Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Bridge

There is a film going around about suicide and the Golden Gate bridge. A documentary producer went to the city of San Francisco and got a permit to film the bridge. What they didn't know was that the producer was going to point a camera at the bridge and sort through the coverage for people jumping to their deaths. The film, called "The Bridge" has some people wondering what this producer is trying to accomplish.

Although I haven't seen it, I am very interested in the concept. You know that over 40 people a year jump off the bridge. You point a camera to capture the last moments of a persons life then you go find out about that person. I suppose you could just look up suicides in the city coroners office but the bridge is special. People come from all over the country, to jump to their deaths from the bridge. Why such a lonely pilgrimage. Is there something they are trying to gain by associating their death with the bridge? Do they feel a kinship to the others who have taken the same route? Does it give them strength? There is something to learn here.

We are interested in gaining understanding into how the human mind works. Mostly however, we are interested in studying how people study things. The makers of "The Bridge" pointed a camera at the bridge and waited. That was the start. What if medical researchers had such a start? We know certain people are predisposed to cancers. Why can't we watch their cells? Why can't we desing methods to identify cells who are ready to jump off "The Bridge"? One way of telling if a cell has lost it's will to live is through aneuploidy. If the number of chromosomes is not complete, then you may be looking at the origin of cancer. It's just a thought. It is unfortunate that most scientists these days observe nature second hand from lab techs.

All of this brings me to an observation I made while watching two college professors discuss whether or not the situation in Iraq could be called a civil war or not. Both men were arrogant old white scholars whose expertise was political science and historical conflicts. Of course they were not willing to call the situation in Iraq a civil war. A reporter who has been there off and on for three years had a different take on the situation. "If this isn't a civil war, I'd hate to be here when one finally breaks out." The reporter laid out some criteria and explained how all of this was taking place. But professors who works in offices thousands of miles away from the sights and sounds of war do not see it the same way. Why believe the guy who isn't there? There is a struggle involving life and death taking place. The best way to understand it is to observe what is happening. Ask the people what they saw. Find out why the thing happened. We're not going to learn anything about this mess listening to politicians and college professors. They talk pretty, but that is what they have learned through observations. They mimic the tones and repeat what they've heard. But they have never been to the bridges where stories begin. Where are the ones who have sat by and watched a story begin, end or just take place for awhile? Why listen to people who are never there?

No comments: