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Everybody's diving bell

Saturday, January 26, 2008 by Dave Winer.

I met an old friend for coffee in San Francisco yesterday afternoon, and had a few hours to kill before stopping in at the Wired reunion party. I didn't want to drive back to Berkeley because the weather was so crummy, and I was just across the street from a movie theater and was just in time for the start of a movie that lots of people had been telling me to see. So I went. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named butterfly.jpgThe movie -- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I had no idea what it was about until the movie started, then I remembered hearing a Fresh Air show about it and finding it too painful to listen to. Now here I was in the theater, not just being asked to listen to it, but being asked to live it. Through some very wonderful film-making, you feel as if what is happening to the main character is happening to you. Or more accurately, probably, you get the slightest hint of what it's like to be this person. My immediate impulse, one which I gave serious consideration to, was to pack up my things and leave. Anything would be better than spending three hours living this guy's life.  Permalink to this paragraph

Two things happen over time: 1. You get over it. 2. They change perspective, and instead of being inside his body, you move outside it.  Permalink to this paragraph

I think those two things are the story we all live as we mature and learn to live inside our own bodies, with their limits. You learn to step outside and see the humor in your predicament. The main character says he lives in a diving bell because it's as hard for him to communicate with other people as it would be at the bottom of the ocean inside a diving bell. The movie teaches that it's not much easier for the rest of us, even though we can manipulate symbols better. On the other hand, of course it is.  Permalink to this paragraph

The film develops a relationship between the hero and his father, between the hero and his own children, his ex-wife, his lover. Each of them reflects off some part of his struggle, and each of them has to learn a new language to communicate not only with the man in the diving bell, but to communicate through their own diving bells. All the acting is great, esp Max von Sydow who plays the hero's 92-year-old father. Permalink to this paragraph

We strive for deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. But it may be ridiculously easy to find the only meaning that exists, without language, without intellect, by just being. Permalink to this paragraph

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly should probably be the picture of the year for 2007, it's that good. But like all great art it shows you something truthful about yourself, and you may or may not want to see it. Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Jim Forbes on life after a strokePermalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

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"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

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