Friday, February 9, 2018

SPIRITUAL SMACK: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

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S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |  C A L L   M E   B Y   Y O U R   N A M E
On the mystery of love, lust of a young heart, and why Call Me by Your Name resonates so deeply . . .


s the film drew its final scene, a woman in her 80s sitting next to me clutched her heart. Despite the difference of decades in age, we were there in the same retrospective suspension, a reverberation of first love and its loss. 

And that mystery of love, like and as the song, repeatedly manifests itself by many ways in its simultaneous grand and diminutive state. It's captured in the climactic moment of the film in a single track shot. As the young Elio avows his love for Oliver—albeit in an unnervingly vague yet poetic way—he maturely confesses that he knows "very little about things that matter." At the prime of pubescence when we think we know it all—from books to looks—Elio portrays how it's the peculiar ways we each fall in love that we can never learn or emulate. He says this as a war memorial stands as a great divide between them, a war in which many young men like themselves lost their lives. 

Love, as a result, simultaneously becomes larger and smaller than: larger than our minds yet smaller than life. All the knowledge we, like Elio, can acquire from books can only go so far in impressing another because love is idiosyncratic. It doesn't follow a game book of memory and spouting of information; it's felt. Despite this profundity of love and often eventual loss of it, though, it bears no comparison to the loss of young lives.  

Yet, we feel it the same, baffled as we may be like Oliver interjecting "Why are you telling me this?" which translates into the universal reaction of "Why am I feeling this?" . . . Because Elio "wanted [him] to know" as in, we nevertheless persist in experiencing those feelings. 

We persist as Elio and, as Sufjan ghost-narrates & sings, as Gideon did. To fall in love is a akin to facing the clichéd battle that Gideon had to face as called by G-d in his visions. Gideon was a young, doubtful Jewish man, just as Elio was, though questioning very different matters. Yet, just as Gideon worships G-d, so does Elio his lover. And, in relation we do with our own new love. We become enamored with our love climaxing to the point of becoming one, in all of its meanings—physically, emotionally, and identically. Call Me By Your Name and I'll call you by mine . . . The version of ourselves we once knew become like past visions—who were we? So does the surreality of love we experience—is this truly happening and how? "Is it a video?"; something we can only seemingly envision happens to us with love. We see without our eyes.

We persist through and with the turn of the seasons from balmy day-glo visions of a picturesque Italian summer and love into loss. It sweeps in like a Winter wind, from the forgotten door in our memories of past heartache or the shutting of a door upon having opened it for the first time. Young love . . .

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And as we experience it, as we feast upon it like a ripe peach, the world continues on. Just as the seemingly irrelevant shots of the housekeepers portray, of catching a fish, preparing meals, setting the table. And as Elio sits in the foreground before a fire, metaphorically in the dying embers of his love, dinner is carelessly being set up in the background. Just as we experience in our heartache moving through the world; viewing others move on with their days, ways, and plans through the blurred vision of our loss. A love presented, feasted on, and cleaned to the bone. Yet, as the night passes into day, so does old love into depths of our heart-memory and new love into our horizon. A newly-ripened peach for the picking. And we find ourselves back, as Elio does by finally being called by his own name, only knowing that we'll find ourselves another name again . . .

"Call Me By Your Name" was originally published as a book, which you can purchase here.
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Film photos courtesy of Call Me By Your Name