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A Koan called “The Black Swan”


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I remember watching the movie “The black swan”. I remember coming out of the theater, sitting in the car and driving away, And for days I remember remembering the face of Natalie Portman in the end when she declares “Nothing is wrong, Everything is just perfect” as she collapses.

When you read a koan, typically you don’t understand what you don’t understand. Somewhere there is a hidden paradox, that, like a snake eating its own tail, makes any further analytical processing impossible. The moment you see the paradox, you find peace.

That’s why the movie “The black swan” qualifies as a koan. At the core of the movie there is a paradox, which I knew, but just recently I was able to verbalize it.

In the movie, there is a perfectionist ballet dancer selected to portray a fictional character that has two shades of personality. A white side, a positive benevolent side and a black one, a dark unsupressed side. She can identify herself with the white side, but struggles expressing the dark side of the character, Because her motivation to portray the dark side is commanded by her own white side, the perfectionist, goal oriented side of her personality.

This is the paradox. She is portraying an uncontrolled nature by trying her best to control her ability of portraying. So in short, she is trying to control something that is by definition uncontrollable.

Ultimately she figures out the paradox.

That’s why I find the movie enlightening. Because behind every mental struggle, there is an ungrasped paradox.

One Response

  1. This qualifies as an insight of a genius! I saw the movie too, enjoyed the great last scene, but never knew why it is a great piece of drama.

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