My girlfriend hasn’t seen Jumanji. I can’t remember if it’s a good film, but I was amazed she hadn’t seen it. I immediately felt a desire to share the experience with her, and I could feel already the flood of imagery roaring in: the terrifying jungle board game; the barbigerous, leaf-clad Williams; the weird and creepy pith-helmeted hunter. She asked me if it was worth seeing, and I realised that I had no idea how to answer her. Prompted by this strange reminiscence, I later tried to assemble a list of my favourite films. I was hoping to clutch at certainty and thus restore my sense of what I considered good. Making top ten lists was something I often did as a teenager, but I’ve found that I can’t produce a list as readily as before, and that the list doesn’t seem as important as it once did. Granted, the enjoyment of lists is something I will cling to until death can prise the ken from my brain, but the purpose of the list seems to have just gone.
What is going on? Is this the adult decline of idealism of which I’ve been warned/promised? I don’t feel sure that it is, but then again almost all the experiences I’ve ever been warned of in advance (e.g. love, puberty, various carnal experiences, unemployment, the outcome of article 50), have proved to feel utterly different to how I had envisaged them.
Checking that you have the same set of ideals as you did last year is hard. In fact, introspection of any kind is a bit like whale watching. I have never been whale watching, but I understand that it takes incredible patience, and that you’re waiting a long time to see something huge and bizarre which ordinarily dwells in vast impenetrable depths. The mind is like the sea. A single thought, like a single cupful of seawater, is transparent. The massive collection of seawater, though, is murky, deep and old enough to defy understanding, plus full of unknown life. Sure, we have names for hundreds of thousands of marine flora and fauna. We also have names for myriad thoughts and feelings, neural pathways and ocean currents. The data exist. The problem is seeing it all for what it is. Have just found that Jumanji is on Netflix. Should we watch it? Only God can know.