Monday, February 16, 2015

The Imitation Game: life imitating death ~

I don't know loners (caveat somewhere below). But I've read about them, seen them in films - misfits, restless geniuses - hated, ostracized, obsessed. Invariably, disliked. And achievers. The art world lends itself well to this creature. The lonely unrecognized unsung auteur working selflessly at his art and craft. They are fascinating because they defy the normal rules of working in teams, putting others before self, etc etc. 

Two of my favorite fictional heroes - Howard Roark and Lisbeth Salander - were both loners. And they were hit badly by the world. And it was only by the sheer skin of their prodigious talent that they survived. 

Alan Turing is one of them.And a real life one. Awkward, inwardly tortured because of a disastrous truth, he is completely incapable of working with others, or show finesse in his dealings with people. But he is also one of the greatest mathematicians of the time. And he is itching to crack the ultimate puzzle - that of coded Nazi war messages. But it is no mean task. As he has a team but he doesn't know how to use them. And he makes enemies very quickly. Until the ultimate truth dawns - he himself is his own first and foremost enemy. 

The battle then is severe - he has to fight himself first before Hitler can be defeated. It's truly an inside job. 

Now the caveat. There was a period, in high school, when I was discovering interests which none of my friends shared. Haunting art galleries, learning to dance kathak, taking workshops in theatre, reading in public gardens and parks, sitting inside churches. I was a loner. Alone. Friendless. But - I did what I wanted. I went where I wanted. It was scary - and liberating. No one to answer to, free. But I was also socially awkward, could write well, but went tongue tied when asked to speak. And when with my brother, who was charming, magnetic and fun, I invariably was gauche, silent and continuously putting my foot as soon as I opened my mouth. So it was torturous too. 

So it was a strange mixed time of my life. But progressively I reconciled with the fact that I walked to a different drumbeat - and I could silently ask those who commented about my obsessive need to be alone, to stuff it. 

I changed. Adjusted. Found a mean. Alan Turing is not able to. And he survives with great discomfort and pain. And it's a visual and dramatic treat to see the finely layered film span out in three time zones laying out what made the man what he was. And what made him. 

And unmade him. 

He committed suicide at the age of 41. 

Thank god, I learnt to love my aloneness less and my friends more. 

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