How many times have we been inspired by a movie to really improve ourselves? Kids do it transparently—they see a hero-type film and when they come home they’re jumping from couch to railing. Yor-Yor! He’s a man! Cricken Bridges was a constantly inspired happy-energy humorist. I loved that Yor-Yor! That was probably the happiest night of my life.
I saw Rocky. And I thought,
Low people can become great.
Then it wasn’t long before I came to,
If I want to become great, I have to embrace the hurt of effort.
So I ran to the car. I jumped in place. The training montage in Rocky is the most inspiring piece of cinema in American self-help history. Nothing is more inspiring than that. The span from hitting head on library to the flirting game theory realization in the pub to the snow-fall study fest in Beautiful Mind is another great one. But my favorite of all time was the burst of energy lifestyle montage in Cronenberg’s glorious ultra-masterpiece The Fly. That and Naked Lunch and Gothic are my favorite movies. And The Exorcist, of course, which was my gate-way drug into drugs. Where by “drugs” I mean what William Hurt was doing in Altered States, and what Crowley claimed to have done. Access the really existing plane where emotions are solid and magick is real.
Oh—the realization. It is not just that I can reach MY goals but the deeper, Gandalf-level realization that I am responsible for my happiness and goal achievement.
Rocky could have quit. That is WHY he’s a hero.
Oh—the realization. After seeing Rocky, the child knows that he can do it but, most importantly, that the one who will bring him there must be himself as a solitary infinitesimal monad of pure effort. The monad that is wafted into the White House by parents, marketing, and luck is different from the one that went to Harvard on full scholarship, hit the books, and school his personality into utter, terrifying refinement and self-mastery.
The realization is that responsibly is bottomless and bootstrapping and that—the fact that magick is an ontological basic—is the realization that makes the post-Rocky-viewing kid jump on the couch and do pushups.
That’s the good part—consciousness getting high in the face of the Existentialist Revelation. Ten minutes later, comfort seeking reptile-anus returns.
So, the problem—and what Colin Wilson called the only problem worth caring about—is how to put your human self for as long as possible into that combination of enthusiasm and acceptance of the pains of responsibility and effort (which have the same denotation, I just realized). How can you stay in that realm?
Oh—the realization. That state that the sprinting parking lot kid is in. How did it get there? Not from a recommendation or lecture or declaration. Not from an observation or an act of studying. It was from sitting through a two-hour story telling thing. It was from constructing the story, generating it—from the effort of making that allowed a single self to follow it INTO its status as an imperative.
One hour of therapy. Result: same.
Two hours of Rocky. Result: hyper, confident, earnest, responsible, and clear-seeing for 10 minutes.
That 10 minutes is the result of a two-hour workout. It did not come freely, by grace.
This is the one place where Law of Attraction stuff is true. The only place, really. You are responsible for your acts of constructing meaning.
The original point:
How to stay in the Rocky state and divert that energy into actual goal achievement?
The reason the reptile resurges is lack of Vipassana. Pain is the behavior-maker. Without external forces pushing you there, you will require a Rocky-like grit. Grit. Grit is English shorthand for facility with Vipassana. Horrors arise—the bad feeling of going to the gym when you don’t want to.
Just ask: What would Rocky do? Fucking run up those steps. There is joy prior to the end. Pre-accomplishment joy that carries people through. What is its nature?
Faith. It is faith. The faith that Rocky had in his faith.
That bottomless bootstrap of responsibility is answered by faith in faith. Hope is irrational. Faith and fear of the resentment of failure were why Rocky kept sweating, climbing, pushing, running, punching when he could have quit.
He had faith that if he had faith in his faith, he would succeed.