"There are two sorts of curiosity - the momentary and the permanent. The momentary is concerned with the odd appearance on the surface of things. The permanent is attracted by the amazing and consecutive life that flows on beneath the surface of things."
Debased-Level okay guys, for your consideration of course. :-)
On the broadside (and read into that also, what you will) we have: Narnia, Oz, et-al; Buddhism, Christianity and a degree of religious supernaturalism/iconography in-general; referenced literature; redemption, rebirth, near-atonement and deliverance; sentimentality. (In-fact, wouldn't sentimentality have sufficed just there?)
I am absolutely in-love with the reverberant level of surprising discourse to be singularly found in this one thread. (Where do you guys find the time?) Corresponding with this and everything expressed above is my infatuation with Romanticism, need I say more?
On the unfashionable (I prefer impertinent, raffish, proficient, even professional) side, we have: Metaphysics, transpersonal-experience, NDE; anesthetic-agents; applied-psychology and scientific-discipline etc. Granted, the lines do become blurred at times and sometimes I agree that "there is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."
If I said the shoes I had on about ten-minutes ago cost more than the apparatus I'm using to transmit my thoughts to you, one, you probably wouldn't believe me, and two, it would undoubtedly contradict my qualification that I fall into the more unfashionable category amongst the (tempted to say: free-) thinkers here. (Okay, they didn't cost that much!)
I watch the news and I see babies with their faces melted-off. I see relatively innocent people have their lives destroyed by terrible accidents, natural disaster, warfare and malevolence. Death. I am well-versed in history therefore know this isn't anything revolutionary. I also see disease, frailty, and people subject to such hardships that it makes me feel physically sick.
Attuned (to my love for my shoes and) to my compunction regarding such an amount of money being spent on something altogether so trivial yet, in most cases, an amount that could do far greater things for so many if I deposited it in the S.C.I.A.F. box I have here at home, is my love for Tony Soprano.
I don't need to remind anyone what this man is capable of and can say with magisterial conviction that when that fat-bastard dies, if there is anything out there, if right and wrong truly matter in this world, then he isn't going somewhere the likes of Adolf Hitler didn't go to!
The unmodified notion that any divine force is truly guiding Tony Soprano (other than David Chase vis-a-vis Tony himself) is frankly, verging on the sacrilegious.
I could wholeheartedly understand if this was any show other than The Sopranos.
Big Pussy in the mirror; Paulie and his idiosyncratic dabbling with intermediary charlatans - surplus comic-relief; literal visual representation that Tony et-al are indeed 'dragging around a bunch of ghouls' - not ulterior-motive or insignia that Chase can and will address the question of: 'how did that guy know about Paulie's victims?' or 'why did we see Big Puss that time in the mirror?'
With Paulie and Puss, it was unretentive in-that - it worked for effect only, and had nothing to do with anything ever again.
If anything, it was fun to watch and (with Puss) added a little more indelible melancholy to that episode in-particular.
(Although, I did want the clock-face in T's room to read '3 o'clock' (it was 3 o'clock wasn't it?) as Paulie ran out, not half-two or whatever it was.)
Chris (as with Tony) was subject to narcotics and returned from his NDE relatively unscathed. Carmela directly asked her God to intervene yet Chris (granted, an entirely antithetical superego and peripheral character but much younger and with many years ahead to undergo amelioration), didn't change at-all. Chris went on to cause much suffering to many and became a high-ranking Mafia lieutenant (or was proposed for that slot) almost directly after his shooting and subsequent NDE.
The only thing Chris seemed to get out of his remotion was the supposition that, for him, Hell was his achievability, not that he could forestall this through any form of repentance.
He still to this day concedes that his soul will perish in Hell.
It begs the question: where was God that night?
This is where you say: 'He works in mysterious ways', right?
You could argue that Chris has much maturing left to do before he becomes susceptible to the objectification that the life he's led wasn't concordant with God's preference. You could also say that if any other (Mafia) character on the show needed God's participation just as much as Tony, then by his suggestible nature (relatively young; ponders a life outside the confines of the Mafia; ready to serve with wholehearted conviction if he truly believes in something - ie Tony), Chris would be a more suited candidate for intervention.
The show belongs to Tony and the journey Chase takes us on has chiefly been about Tony as quintessential exponent for experience and inwardness. In other words: human-nature, mortality, etc.
If Chase was setting some kind of precedent here with Chris, then he didn't follow-through. If he was acknowledging the presence of a higher power (in Tony's case), then he didn't think or feel that way back then. When Chris was at his most vulnerable, the perfect opportunity for God to communicate with him, you could argue Chase and God seemed to abandon him.
'Bad-storytelling' as Chase once put it? A change in beliefs perhaps? Maybe Chase had a profound, spiritual-experience and this is why he's (arguably) taking the story in this direction, I don't know. What I do know is that continuity on the show is subject to much debate. (If something like this did happen to Chase, then I can only PRAY (for the sake of the culmination of The Sopranos) that he avoids all interest in UFOs and suchlike)...:-)
Religion (specifically Catholicism) has always bestraddled The Sopranos. For Chase to egress so suddenly (and yet so late-in-the-day) and imply that this man will ultimately have the opportunity to effect change in his life (whatever that may be) through any type of spiritual intervention, to me seems highly repugnant. I'm not saying it's not possible, but the show HAS been anchored in harsh reality since it's conception.
Melfi couldn't help him, his wife couldn't make him see the light (as if she'd know), and he couldn't get up off his own ass and do it for himself. What, now it's time for God to have a crack? Why would God 'even bother?'...
In a perfect universe, God would intervene. God would stop-the-rot and become hands-on.
I would LOVE to believe that in the face of (in-particular) the obliteration of Iraq's estimation of the West, the devastation and death apportioned by the American-Military upon blameless women and children, boys, men, innocents, in said country...911, Afghanistan and the war-cloud over Iran; Katrina; TWO more years with Bush at the helm...well, I'd Love to believe that as a direct response to this and much more, Chase was allowing the current zeitgeist to somewhat influence his purpose for the show and culminate events in an altogether upbeat 'God IS alive and well' type of way. Whatever happens to Tony now is irrelevant. If God did indeed 'step-in' then Chase would have already made his opinions clear. (911 didn't directly contravene the thematics of the show, did it?)
But why now? The struggle (Tony's) has always been about good and evil? No it hasn't. I don't see it like that at-least.
Tony was a success as a youngster in many ways. Whatever happened to him at the point of adolescence is left to our imagination.
Through AJ and Chris, we can in-part estimate the effect Tony's upbringing environment had on him.
We know Tony had many friends back then (therefore 'examples') who went on to legitimate success.
Tony 'took the easy way out.' A conscious choice. He knew right from wrong and without any help from the Devil if you like, this man made a decision on his own to do wrong. If we as viewers noticed penitence in Tony every time he whacked somebody (and I say penitence not in the sense that 'he was my cousin; my best-friend' etc., but as deep regret over taking a life in-general), how much of that would take away from the equivocalness we (most of us I'm sure) associate with our feelings regarding him and The Sopranos? The struggle has always been about evil and how much of that evil Tony would take to work with him that day.
He has nobody to blame but himself.
Okay. My own thinking changes here just about every-day but I'm convinced the emphasis, Tony's entire journey over the rainbow etc. has to do with Tony and his relationship/feelings for his wife. That covers many different aspects of the man's psyche of course but for now I'd like to concentrate on the rootage of Tony's whole dilemma/whatever...
Tony, quite literally, turns his back on his own identity (his wallet; his briefcase.) He tries to communicate with his family - they're not there. He leaves a message ("I'm here") on the VM informing his family he's reached a destination where he assumes they knew he was heading for. Wherever Tony's psyche is at this juncture, he/it still thinks/feels his family (coma/reality) want/need to know he's arrived and intact. Is it important that he can't seem to reach them at this point? I think so.
Assume he's still Tony Soprano at the moment. Assume the change/switch (whatever) of the IDs is NOT happening right now as he's leaving this message. Tony feels his family are existing, going about their business as usual elsewhere, probably at the expense of his own toil (she stays at home with the kids etc. I think one of the significant aspects of the age of his children here (ie younger) is that he still feels they need much looking after, he doesn't feel/see them as adults yet) and he feels confident (as Tony Soprano, albeit in denial of the True Tony) that in their mother's care, they'll be looked after. As Tony Soprano, he feels he affords his family a comfortable lifestyle as a result of his being away on business and that he's happy for his wife to be there at home with the kids as he does so. We do not hear his wife's (coma-wife) voice at this point, only the kids. If we do hear the slightest hint of her presence there, I'm convinced the (sinister?) laugh as the VM intro fades must be hers.
Tony will make direct contact with his family fairly soon, but only after he realises he cannot ply his trade as Tony Soprano.
Look at it as though he has no issues to address at the moment. He accepts that where he awakens is where he should be etc.
We see Tony leave the bar, interacting with reality (helicopter/doctor) and heading for the hotel. We then jump straight to Tony in the car, going to the conference. I would say that from the point we see Tony awake at the beginning of Join the Club (enter comatoseness - 1st night in coma) until the moment he pulls his tubes out and regains consciousness (2nd night in coma), that Tony actually did things in coma-state we weren't granted access to. Chris confirms the time-scale when he remarks to Carmela she needs a break after spending two nights at the hospital. If this is in-fact a visual-representation of Tony's subconscious, then it's structure doesn't matter. It's obviously not a continuous dream as the elements suggest, so I have to assume Tony has thoughts and feelings throughout yet (as TV permits) we as viewers are only given significant access to them.
Back now and Tony discovers he's lost his ID/briefcase. The ensuant conversation between Tony & wife appears to commence 'halfway in' (when we first hear her voice, she already knows about the ID/case situation) and this indicates to me that this may indeed be the first communication (from his coma) that Tony has with her. She could have called Tony that morning or whatever, but we don't get to see this. The fact that the conversation begins with salutations aside, says to me that his wife here could be speaking to him for the first time in his altered state.
He has a meagre amount of cash to his name (because he's lost his cards - representative of income held for him elsewhere etc.) and his wife sounds different. He can't get to the money, whatever, until he retrieves his ID etc. He doesn't make note that this isn't Carmela's voice because 1.) (subconsciously) he cannot equate Carmela being with him if he literally only has '87 bucks in his pocket' etc. and 2.) as this whole scenario as defense-mechanism is (to me) part allegory, simultaneously, part EXCUSE or agent for him to avoid his true identity (he can't escape the name, he's still Tony Soprano), as with his own voice/attitude/you name it, things have changed. And for the better.
I think the differentiation regarding every voice concerned is wholly unrelated and acutely separate from each other.
Everything Tony's mind conjures up serves to prevent him from the true Tony Soprano directly. His mind/body/soul know he's dying. Tony has never been more susceptible to unrepressed, raw emotion; since his very conception and subsequent years as an infant, right up until adolescence - Tony has never been more vulnerable until now.
His mind expels or camouflages it's darkest secrets, his body is shutting-down and his defences kick-in. I think anyone remotely aware of right and wrong who still (for whatever reason) went on to commit crimes such as his, would go insane if it didn't.
If this is a true representation of Tony's subconscious, if Tony can indeed (on the surface) see what's happening to him (like in dreams - 'I know I'm dreaming, douchebag!'), then whatever is evident at the forefront of what he perceives to be what must surely be regarded as a 'very realistic dream' ('who am I?', 'where am I going?' - he (in spirit) is aware this is happening), is being projected in an almost diluted form in-order for his mind (soul even) to become fully aware and accepting of the harshest truths of all.
I think deep down he accepts or feels that Carmela returned (or let him return) only for his money (her new project.) He doesn't know if she'd love him in the same way if he wasn't the man he was. This is manifesting as a voice (coma-wife) that we and Tony (the real Tony) don't recognise. Tony might never raise this concern on the surface, but this is his subconscious remember.
He never says: 'you don't sound like my wife/kids/even me'. His subconscious has to have a narrative, it has to represent what is true to itself (ie why is he called Tony Soprano? Why does he have a wife/2 kids, hail from NJ? etc.) - but it has to foreshorten it's own, thus Tony's, purest psychological features as part of it's defense.
Yes, she sounds different, so do his children. But more than that, they sound much younger.
The voice on the phone is that of a woman who could be around Carm's age - not evidently younger.
The distinction must then be addressed. I've explained why I think here he accepts the voices of his children in this way, the voice of his wife, and his own voice must surely bar years of slang (and profanities yet not irreverence - he still (arguably) commits blasphemy, and doesn't once correct others for this) growing up in the way he did in NJ.
Coma-Carm (I prefer Openly-Indifferent-Coma-Carm - listen to that tone) questions him (she mostly always questions him here - though indirectly; never face-to-face, obviously - sounds like someone we know :-) about the loss of his briefcase etc. At this point, this is the first interaction Tony has with a supposed family-member back-home.
The change (ie Finnerty) has taken place and now he can make contact with his wife. He has very little money and his wife is still there. She listens, she tries to make-sense of the situation, she tells him everything will be okay. His psyche is forming an excuse; his subconsciousness cannot let him enter the conference because there, he wouldn't be able to function. His mind cannot go there. (notice how not once does he ever profess any knowledge of his new occupation and how he almost seems to avoid talking about it (with Lee etc.) by using his wife as an excuse and even runs off to call home at that moment.)
Later, the bartender will confirm someone relating to the description Tony now has of Finnerty as being present at the bar that night.
I should point out that these people do not exist and are merely stepping-stones if you like, for Tony's cognitive-process in assigning meaning to his unconscious deconstruction. The bartender affords hope in Tony that this was indeed the place where he lost his belongings. Although he makes reference to an uncle later-on, I don't think the Tony we see can remember anything before waking-up in the hotel at the start of Join the Club. He isn't thinking like you and me. The Tony at the hospital is thinking, and what we see is a literal manifestation of his feelings. He can't reason with losing his wallet/case anywhere else.
Notice how just as Tony walks over to the desk at the conference, just before he goes into his pocket or wherever for his wallet, on two separate occasions the screen (our view of Tony) almost becomes black as people walk by. I see these 'dark spots' as something altogether unnatural occuring in Tony's mind; something that couldn't happen in reality. His ID and briefcase have to change here - the significance of the logo on the case seems to say that Tony would have noticed any switch/change at the bar.
Here I think Tony/Tony's-mind conjures up Finnerty in-order or as, a visual-representation (for us/Tony's subc.) of Tony's suppression of regret; his denial to fully accept blame. He never says it was his nor Finnerty's fault this happened, he only hears her tell him not to worry and her prideful, almost hubristic, impertinent tone regarding the loss of a Christmas gift to him from her.
She gave him the case for Christmas and now, through someone's fault, it's lost. If Tony felt the predicament he's now in was due to his own actions (turning his back on his 'life' as he put it and his wallet in a strange locale) he can't/doesn't say it. He has lost something that she gave to him - perhaps the ability to function as a mobster within a family environment? (just like his mother did with his father).
It's not her fault that he lost the case, but her disdain at him not having something he afforded her to give him in the first place, now seems evident. You could reason that if she didn't give this to him (and in such a way - a Christmas gift) then he wouldn't have lost it (something of seeming emotional attachment/importance.)
(His mind) senses her Catholic-hypocrisy here associating the birth of Jesus solely with material gain. 'I gave you that briefcase for Christmas, Tone...' - notice how she doesn't use 'purchased; bought' here...Tony bought it.
It's almost as if through losing the case, finding someone else's ID etc. that Tony can now realise whatever was in his own briefcase was his own property/responsibility yet, was in-part supported by Carmela and upon losing this he becomes aware of her sanctimony regarding it's acquiring and subsequent use thereafter.
Why did she get him something for Christmas that would enable him to function more effectively at work specifically?
Because by acknowledging this as a Christmas gift she is saying that respective of what his job entails, she will ignore it (and on this day in-particular) in-order to finance his further commitment to his work.
If I could just jump ahead here and say:
Carmela arrives in-order to spell Meadow, Barb and her husband. They don't appear to be having much interaction with Tony at this point. Carmela, once-again holding Tony's hand.
Instantly we see Tony, for the second-time, openly admit to a non-family member that he has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He's drinking here and to me seems to be feeling rather sorry for himself. (Sounds like the Tony we know.)
When Tony first entered the Omni, Carmela was holding his hand (see my first post this thread regarding relationships between the clerk at the Omni (Morgan) and hereditary-disorder, ie Alzheimer's).
Directly preceding Tony's Alzheimer's diagnosis is Carmela's declaration of love (no-matter what) and much physical interaction with him. Carmela seems to be holding his hand as he enters the Omni, with him as he gets the diagnosis, and there as he informs the bartender about it. To me, leading him to his ultimate realisation; confirming it; reminding him of it.
The manner in which he's drinking seems appropriate to one who drinks to forget.
Still Ssoooo much to cover here guys and I'm starting to see a somewhat refreshing veer develop amongst this thread now.
I have much to disclose at a later date, especially regarding the calculator and invitation that mysteriously appear in the briefcase; the 'dark' hotel-phone that Tony cannot bring himself to use (at the end of Join the Club) as opposed to the 'light-white' one that's in in his room by the end of Mayham; Monks (Chase THREW me with this one and my initial reaction was that they were USED to contrast the viewer (we see the 'terrorists') and Tony's impressions regarding places in the world that purport to be akin to peace and yet resort to violence when felt 'necessary' - after Mayham I think I'm wrong on this and (thanks mostly to much of the later posts regarding this) I'm still in the process of accommodating the Monks into/with my logic here)...
PLEASE keep up the great work here guys okay.....