All this time as a maturing man . . . my goodness, when can we cut him down and serve him with a bowl of French fries and a glass of chilled champagne in that “night club” of his? Let’s get on with it. We need strength for the journey; we need sustaining for goodness sake even if we are heading for that crest of the wave when maturing slips over into dementing. Or perhaps it’s the same thing: maturing must mean getting old and smelly; dementing means that we are past caring – unaware – unconscious aging. The dictionary suggests that there is no verb to dement, therefore I should not use dementing, it gives the wrong idea, as though I am doing something to myself. But why not? To be is a verb and is not quite a doing word. So is maturing I do something with conscious intention. Not sure – yes and no. I suppose drinking alcohol would be an example of conscious dementing and going to chat to my analyst an example of conscious maturing.
When did Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver come out? Oh yeah, 1976, I checked on Wikipedia. Anyway, the point is I watched it last night having rented the DVD. The fact is I wasn’t sure whether I had actually seen it or whether I only imagined I had seen it because it’s one of those movies that entered what Jung referred to as the collective unconscious (if there is such a thing?). After watching it I’m still not sure whether I saw it in 1976 or 77 but I'm inclined to the view that I didn't see it. Could be I didn’t, because I wasn’t getting to the movies very much as that point in my life. Checking the Scorsese filmography on Wikipedia I noticed Mean Streets which came out a couple of years before Taxi Driver. Perhaps that was the one I saw. So this might be about venturing into the territory, reminding me of Dartmoor once again, of my dementing. But for the moment let’s stay with the movie. Robert de Niro’s Travis is a fascinating creation of a character, coming into America post-Vietnam, an ex-marine, probably traumatised, cannot sleep, finds a job as a taxi driver and occupies a fine line between maturing and dementing. The question that is so gripping is, is he going to make it? Which mainly means, will he survive? But also demands some clarity as to notions of maturing/dementing. He seems to have little in the way of self protective mechanisms operating. Is that another consequence of the PTSD? To what degree does he represent a socially inadequate character irrespective of whatever happened to him in Vietnam. So, yes, the various Jimmy’s and their questioning of what it is to live and survive or not. Travis even has a go at falling in love which doesn’t get far when he takes his dream of woman to a pornographic movie because it is just another film and besides he doesn’t know anything about films. Later, her boss, a presidential hopeful, happens to get into his taxi and Travis makes out he really admires this politician, though he knows nothing about politics, which in turn invites the presidential hopeful to ask him about what he’d like to see happen. Given permission Travis spews out a stream of paranoid stuff about clearing out the filth of the city and then it’s not long before he’s buying guns.
It’s a fine essay on maturing and dementing, the socially isolated and excluded, heading for an explosion of some sort.
I better get along to my analyst.