Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Existentialism in Trainspotting
Existentialism in Trainspotting: As a philosophy, existentialism is purposefully ambiguous. It seeks to emphasize the primacy of individual choice, and that, through choice, individuals can either add or subtract meaning in their lives. External forces acting on individuals are important, but an individual's existence ultimately cannot be defined by them. Thus, if individuals are the final determinants of giving their lives meaning, then they ought to scrutinize deeply their choices. Yet there are elements of transience and permanence in existential philosophy that manifest themselves lucidly in the industrialized world. These elements are certainly present in the hobby of trainspotting. For example, when a train passes a trainspotter, there is a unique self-reflective response that occurs in which the trainspotter realizes the transient nature of his existence on Earth. But through the use of a camera, the trainspotter is able to create an aura of permanence from his particular vantage point. So whereas the train represents the impersonal passing of time, the trainspotter signifies the personal supplier of meaning to the event. And at bottom, existential philosophy is only meaningful if one takes it personally.