I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Wirth through a mutual friend. Some people strike you deeply, if such a thing is possible, not with their prestige or accolades but with their unassuming nature. You know of them beforehand and are aware of their significant accomplishments, and upon finally meeting are most impressed by the fact of their warmth and humanity being the dominant element of their personhood. Where their CV isn't the crowning definition of their identity so much as, quite simply, their kindness. Their humanness. People like to hide behind accomplishments. I'm more impressed when someone prioritizes not their resume but goodness, putting people first. The present life, the art of living in it. It's so easy to get caught up in what we do; but what about who we are? This blurb of his (prodigious) accomplishments reads a bit like a more impressive version of my own bio, which I joke reveals almost nothing about me:
"Dr. Wirth, PhD, is an American philosopher and professor of philosophy at Seattle University. He was the Theiline Pigott McCone Chair in Humanities from 2014 to 2016, and his books include Commiserating with Devastated Things: Milan Kundera and the Entitlements of Thinking, Schelling’s Practice of the Wild, and, most recently, Nietzsche and Other Buddhas: Philosophy After Comparative Philosophy."
All that is true, and those are indeed excellent works he's written. But my desire to share his words on my film with you stem from a broader, deeper appreciation of mine for his personhood. Where the books are merely an extension of his being. I aspire for something like that, and hope this film I've made might aspire toward something like his books: a gift you give to the world, with love. The film is an amalgamation of things I've reflected upon while in the presence of giants. Here are further musings on those reflections, by one I'm lucky to have met.
Reflections on Men I Trust
I have long thought that in the face of death, especially the death of another, we all become, at least for a few minutes, philosophers. Given that philosophy opens the possibility that we might speak to death and face it directly, we typically turn away, revealing our philosophy to be merely the kinds of self-deceptions that had already governed our living.
This deeply moving film, free of all sentimentality and, for that reason, all the more moving, derives its power by standing in the white heat of this moment as death exposes human living as without “why” and cancels for the dying all of the scientific “hows.” Just as life does not need to be filled with the extraordinary and the spectacular to be precious and intrinsically good, so this film concentrates on the supposedly ordinary, which, cast against the background of its loss, reappears as sufficient in themselves and boundlessly precious.
Without retreating into the abstract, this is also a film about time—yes, death proves time. As such, however, it is allows the power of the moment to appear: not how something is, or why it is (as if explaining death either justifies it or renders it more palatable), but rather the infinite preciousness—and fragility and impermanence—that it is. Mahayana Buddhists call this suchness, things just as they are—fleeting, impermanent, and yes, enough. It is enough that they are simply what they are. They did not have to be more to be worthy of cherishment.
Technically, the editing is also a marvel as it layers and juxtaposes moments of time, each moment suddenly appearing precious: drinking water at the bar, dancing with your sister, speaking French, discussing whether to have children (and the problem of legacy as if we can cheat death by leaving something behind). Even walking in the forest to scatter ashes. Despite our ecological rapacity, there are still sword ferns and western red cedars and western hemlocks and Douglas firs, and their power remains in this moment irrefutable: that they are there.
I loved this film. It is beautiful and honest and it moved me to my core.
Read other reviews of my film here. Learn more about the film at its official page, or check out the trailer below.