The Death of Meaning

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Chaos                       -                    Order
Nature                      -                    Culture


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For someone who knows how to give meaning to life, every instant is like an arrow flying toward its target. Not to know how to give meaning to life leads to discouragement and a sense of futility that may even lead to the ultimate failure, suicide.

Mathieu Ricard
The Monk and the Philosopher, p. 348


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The Road (2009)

The Road shows a world in which most structures of meaning have broken down; in which those ideas that make us human - morals, ethics, love, compassion - have been thrown out the window in favour of a single imperative: to survive.

We see humanity in the process of losing its "humanity," people becoming animals. Animals have no meanings, they do not imagine themselves to be something; they cannot craft themselves into one image or another, a saint or a sinner. They do what they must, to survive.

The Father's meanings have shrunk down to one: "Keep the boy alive," and in this sense he is not far from becoming animal. His vision is centred on the boy, and he does not see anyone else. It is his job to care for the boy, and it is left to the boy to care both for his father and for the Other (to keep alive the idea of relatedness, of the Whole). He may be his father's keeper, but he is also his brother's.

The boy is left to carry the fire, a flame from which meanings spark and ignite. In a world in which humanity is dying, both in body and in spirit, the boy's capacity to imagine - to give life meaning - keeps him alive, and keeps him human.

The Road shows us how vital it is that we are able to breathe meaning into life, and reminds us that our ability to imagine helps form the bedrock of our humanity.

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