Seeing with Samson and Delilah

I think it was Dr Johnson who said ‘nobody but a fool ever wrote for anything but money’. A chance quip doesn’t make the philosophy of a man, but perhaps that makes everyone at Phoenix Ark, and the 17 million daily word-processing WordPressers too, fools! Perhaps they should see it in ‘holy fool’ terms, like Dostoyevsky’s Idiot, or what Jung said of how we lose the wonder of being alive by not just leaning forward in a train and expressing what a beautiful day it is. In fact, whether lay person or professional author, the key is connection, and even having one engaged response to what you do can be hugely rewarding. It also gives you a chance to express without any wider intention, or need, and perhaps see in a different way.

Seeing, and the story of Samson and Delilah were and are a central theme in the unpublished Scream of the White Bear. A story about belief, the word, and the blinding loss of the redemptive feminine to the male psyche, inside and out. It was wonderful then to see Warwick Thornton’s spare little masterpiece Samson and Delilah. Set among Australian aboriginals, and a teenage love story, it is brutal and ultimately beautiful, stressing above all how so many lives are not lived in words at all, especially at a particular age, and in different cultures. The ‘religious’ themes, the supporting metaphor of story, are only glanced at, with mourning and the tradition of hair cutting reflecting Samson’s loss of power, and a rape and a haze of petrol sniffing, blocked opportunities and a poverty of connection, there to reflect the biblical blinding, the loss of hope.

This Samson is just a kid, trying to find a way, love too, and decidedly unheroic, except for his first tilt at a girl. His Delilah, who he loses sight of in his loss of power, is the heroine who turns everything around. Thornton is aboriginal, and says he hardly learnt to write at all, and the script is virtually non-existent. Instead we have a very raw reality, and the final redemption, the final understanding of what love might really be made of, is one of the most eloquent things I’ve seen. Though raising money was no problem, Thornton did not want the vast ‘circus’ of big budget film making and it is the integrity of the story, its truth, that inspires and wins the day. Perhaps where the heroine suddenly gets a gun from to hunt Kangaroo, in a story that is also partly about brutal economics, is glossed over, but it’s great, and hard to put into words. Thornton is also passionate and moving about the lack of chances and support given to kids, by whites and aboriginals alike. DCD

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