Saturday, December 1, 2012

Is the Disciplined Life Worth Living? (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai)

79. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Ghost Dog is a man who lives by the text.  One book, Hugakure: The Book of the Samurai, determines his lifestyle, his every move, his passion and his habits.  He is a disciplined man, disciplined by the text.  He is a noble man, made noble by the noble principles which he upholds.  And he is a hit man.  For every man, no matter what their profession, is noble if they embody noble principles.

A man is not simply made by a text, however.  A principled man is made noble by how he applies the principles in a context.  A samurai must obey his master.  Thus, nobility is determined not only by the principles one follows, but by the nobility of one’s master.

The way of the samurai is not just a set of principles, but a way of looking at life as a noble war.  What if life isn’t noble?  A noble man cannot live where nobility is not honored. 

The disciplined life views all through one set of colored glasses.  Perhaps in our post-modern society, a variety of glasses, a variety of perspectives is necessary. Is nobility so great to be held above survival? Perhaps Rashomon is more noble than Hagakure. 

Ghost Dog is a film in a gritty urban criminal context based on two real books and one very cool film.  The film is Le Samourai, which stars Alain Delon as the coolest hit man ever filmed.  The one text is Hagakure, mentioned above, which is a real text and it quoted extensively in the film. To read more quotes, check it out. The final text is Rashomon, a short story by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke was made into a famous movie by Akira Kurosawa.  The story is quite different from the film and you can read it here

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