It’s been getting a lot of press, Everything Everywhere All at Once has. It’s been winning awards and it demonstrates that absurdism isn’t dead. Absurdism is an essential element of existentialism, the philosophical school with which I most closely identify. I had no idea others found it so appealing. This movie’s difficult to encapsulate—the summary on Wikipedia is actually not bad—but it has to do with human potential when living in a multiverse where every decision splits the ‘verse into new bubbles where your actions play out in all possible ways. And, of course, it’s tax season. There are clearly elements of The Matrix here, as well as Brazil. And it’s distributed by A24. The message is good, as the story plays out. The images are impressive and confusing and will make you think.
From the time I left home I’ve looked for two main elements in movies—they should make me feel and make me think. When they do both they are successful. Everything Everywhere All at Once is successful. It also reminded me of how healing existentialism can be, which is what drew me to it in the first place. Life, or to point a finer point on it, consciousness, is absurd. You can follow the same rules and get different results each time. And you have to live with the consequences. If you think about it too much it leads to despair. I need, and it seems others do as well, to be reminded once in a while that absurdity is endemic in this universe. How else can we explain Trump? Existentialism breaks in on reality and I used to self-medicate with Nietzsche and Kafka and Camus. Lately I’ve been using horror.
The thing about absurdity is that it’s funny. We may not laugh about what the universe hands us as much as we should. Existentialism also holds that darker element called dread. Sometimes that comes to the foreground. In my own life, I guess I thought getting a Ph.D. from a major, internationally renowned, research university might help. I had forgotten the role absurdity plays in all of this. Everything Everywhere All at Once shows the universe, or multiverse, is the ultimate trickster. There are those, serious scientists, some of them, who believe that each decision does split off another universe and that all possibilities play out somewhere in the multiverse. Even if that’s true, we’re stuck in this one. It makes sense, therefore, to laugh at it once in a while.