This week I review the new Nicholas Cage movie, Pig, about a truffle hunter in the wilds of Oregon who goes on a quest to find his kidnapped pig. It is the work of first-time filmmaker, Michael Sarnoski.
I am very much an outlier on this movie, which has received rave reviews and a 97% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The rapturous response — The Guardian called a “masterpiece” — gave me pause and made me reconsider a movie that I would have otherwise written off as being shockingly bad.
Upon reflection I realize that Pig is not a bad movie, it may even be a great movie if you like your nihilism served up as ugly as possible.
There is a strain of postmodern (green altitude) identity that sees modern culture as hopelessly corrupt and exhausted, facing an existential meta-crisis. A significant sliver of them, self-described “doomers,” see a world so degenerated that withdrawal is the only moral choice.
This view is defensible, of course, but inadequate. What’s missing is what integral thinking brings to the party: an evolutionary understanding that its meta-crises all the way down.
Most of human history has been a rolling catastrophe. Welcome to evolution! The modern (orange altitude) stage of development, for all its soulless avarice, has been a boon to humans in terms of security and wealth, giving rise to life conditions that can generate a social critique like Pig, which is postmodern deconstruction at its platonic perfection, establishing once and for all that there is nothing good, true, or beautiful to be found.
In the podcast, I draw a distinction between the aesthetics of ugliness and nihilism, both of which can deeply move me. But you have to give me something more than the told-not-shown love of a pig. These days I require my social critiques to have faith in life, movies like Minari, or even Nomadland. I’ll do a review of these soon! Let me know what you think at [email protected].
PS. I love listening to podcasts at fast speed. Last week I learned you can also speed up YouTube videos. It’s great, try it! Just click the gear icon while playing a video and select the “speed” option.