January 19, 2014

Cold Critical Thinking

Posted in critical thinking, film, songs at 6:33 pm by Jerry

While watching Frozen, the latest Disney movie Emma is obsessed over, I’ve been thinking about the not-so-warm and fuzzy-feelin’ connotations attributed to ‘critical thinking’. I’ve even made a connection between the two. I know, I’m weird that way. (I don’t actually think there was any intention to portray a view of critical thinking in this movie, but I’ve used it as such.) 🙂

Frozen is about Elsa, a princess with a power inside of her so overwhelming the power is feared more for it’s destructive abilities than for it’s ability to make things of beauty. Which is why she is encouraged to keep the power hidden from others and herself. The fear of her power is so great that Elsa is lead to believe that hiding the power can only be accomplished if she isolates herself from others, even her younger sister Anna, who wants nothing more than the warmth of a loving relationship with her older sister. Eventually, Elsa’s responsibilities to care for others, especially her throw-caution-into-the-wind sister Anna, make it impossible to hide who she is, to hide the power within her.

Elsa’s power is the power of cold. And I see her power as a metaphor for an exceptional power to reason, or better yet, an exceptional and passionate power to think critically. And even though Anna doesn’t have any super powers, I look at her as a representation of the oldest power known to humanity itself, the power of attachments, the power of love (awwww).

A song that really stands out in this movie is Let It Go. It’s a great part of the movie. Finally, Elsa got out of her own prison to find a safe place to completely be herself, discovering her creative potential and exercising her poetic ingenuity. As sad as it is to trade one form of isolation for another (because everyone needs companionship of some sort), this latter form of isolation provided the greatest freedom she’s ever had.

But, eventually (spoiler alert), we learn that Elsa and Anna should have never been separated in the first place. In hindsight, we see that Elsa without Anna is far more susceptible to hurting someone with her power, and Anna without Elsa is far more susceptible to trust unwittingly in people or situations that are unreliable.

Elsa is the reasoning potential within us to think critically, the part of us that hungers for any knowledge that will clarify our understanding of things. But, critical thinking also has the power to take apart well-meaning, thoughtful constructs that we grow attached to. It doesn’t make you feel safe and secure. At least, not in the beginning. Critical thinking can challenge the strength of our relationships, testing us to see if we really know what we love, revealing overlooked knowledge that may change our feelings for what we are deeply attached to. Admittedly, safety is tentative in the critical thinker’s world. But future respites of safety may be stronger, built on higher probabilities, even more secure than what we’ve relied on in the past.

Anna is the part of us open to experiences of love and all the different feelings that come with personal attachments. But, the power of love can overlook any short-comings to the point that there is no resemblance of clear thinking, only the desire to remain attached, remain committed, to trust, to have faith, to be certain of feeling secure and safe whether you are or not. Admittedly, without the power of critical thinking, one’s safety or security can be over-estimated, even delusional, yet unwavering. But, if the power of love would combine itself with the power of critical thinking, hope would be more than just sentimental. Hope would become a realistic driving force in the pursuit of our goals, our dreams.

I apologize if I’ve ruined the movie for anyone who has beared with me on this daydreaming venture. Chances are, I’ve created a false dichotomy here and maybe should’ve left it alone instead of dissecting a children’s movie. On the other hand, I’ve followed one of the many meanderings in my mind and decided that my blog is a safe place to just let it go.

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