The world is based on causality. We live in a universe based on entropy, on deterministic chaos, i.e. for every action, there is a reaction, the famous ’cause-effect. Each one of us is aware of this, and yet, we tend to forget about it. We are lost in our everyday life, its problems, its emotions. The universe is based on space-time, two sides of the same coin, and we who are within it are affected in turn. The causal events that are created continuously, from the micro to the macro, spread over a certain period, through space-time creating (exponential) effects, the famous butterfly effect. The universe is based on this, and we find ourselves within it. How much does causality influence our becoming and how much does it influence our future? The film Mr. Nobody is a good starting point for trying to make sense of it.
Who is Nemo Nobody? The man who is all men but none at the same time
Mr. Nobody is a 2009 film directed by Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael. The film tells the story of Nemo Nobody. But who is Nemo Nobody? Just by analyzing the name, Nemo literally means “nobody” in Latin, and this is already a clue to our character. Throughout the film’s narrative, we see our protagonist in various guises: an innocent English suburban child, a wealthy entrepreneur dissatisfied with his possessions who has never known love, we find him as a coma patient, as a young man with a menial job looking for his true love, and even as an old man, the last mortal man left on Earth. Nemo Nobody is all of them, and like him, we are all of them. All the stories and spin-offs narrated exist and are valid, a story that to the viewer may seem of minor importance has the same value as what seems to be the main story, it is the viewer himself who determines it. In some way, those who watch the film also determine the various different values, a bit like what happens in reality. All these possible lives and existences of our protagonist, however, refer to a single event (I will not mention the event in question so as not to make a spoiler), everything else is a derivative of randomness, and Nemo is the result of becoming. What do the great philosophical minds tell us about the becoming of man and our film in question?
The event: the birth of randomness and realization of becoming
What is an event? Quoting the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, the event is in its lowest and purest form, something shocking. Something that appears suddenly and interrupts the usual flow of events. It is an apparition without a solid foundation, the effect seems to exceed its causes. From this hypothetical zero point, combined with the time factor, we have a propagation of randomness, more or less intentional, which, expanded in space and time, give life to becoming. The fact is that there is not only one becoming, we all have our own becoming, and sharing the same space, they influence each other. Nietzsche in his doctrine of the will to power, completely cutting off what could have been a possible metaphysics, attributes to each individual his own sphere. The individual spheres of each individual clash, the stronger ones subjugate the weaker ones, giving rise to a relative reality of the individual. There is no absolute truth or reality, only that created by the power of the individual’s will. The man himself shapes and creates himself. Starting with the event of the individual, and expanding its effects into an intertwined system of several individuals, influenced by the individual will, we get a certain cyclicity in the creation of that. As in the film, each cyclicity can give rise to different realities, there is no right or wrong. Each reality is as true and as valuable as the next, everything depends on individual relativity, which in relation to time transports us in our becoming.
In the end, how are we supposed to behave in this strange and crazy world?
I would call this the classic million-dollar question, and as the most classic answer for these kinds of questions, there is no answer. We have said that the event is a shocking, unforeseen phenomenon, which is only given. As in the film, various possibilities are created by it, and the causality that creates these possibilities directly affects us, because in the end, beyond the subconscious, what we manifest in our reality is the result of our actions and experiences that inevitably influence the real. There is a dichotomy between being (us) and the outside world, from here, and from interaction with others, what is our personal reality is created. The individual event is given, it has no meaning, only afterward can it be defined and valued. Our task is not one of passive acceptance of events and their causes, but an affirmation of our own presence within it. Easy to understand, difficult to do. The film Mr. Nobody speaks to us precisely about this, in the multitude of lives that Nemo lives, our protagonist is overwhelmed by events and only realizes this as the years go by, he never affirms himself, even in the life of the rich entrepreneur, because as we know money can make you emotionally sterile too, we live on emotions. So the director asserts his idea, and as was inevitable the answer is always in love. At the end of the day, we are all a little bit romantics, the phenomena of life are uncontrollable, the choices and challenges we face sometimes seem insurmountable, but through love everything else becomes relative.