Saturday, February 7, 2009

Disney's Solace

My mother is old and very ill in Brazil. When we manage to talk on the phone, all she wants to talk to me about is Walt Disney. When I was there and took her to a doctor, she wanted to see pictures I have of Walt, while in the waiting room. She has now been drifting in and out of consciousness, but at moments, she comes out with insights of an otherworldly wisdom. Last time we talked, I tried to find some remarkable episode of Walt’s life to tell her. Something short, that did not require a lot of description. I remembered the contract Disney signed with Powers, so he could get Cinephone in California. Then I related to her, as told by Neal Gabler in his biography of Walt, Roy’s indignation when he read the onerous contract, and the following dialogue between the two brothers:“Did you read this?” He (Roy) shouted when Walt returned to California later that month. “Of course I didn’t,” Walt responded. “What the hell, I wanted the equipment!”
At hearing this, my mother said: “Oh, how beautiful! It takes immense purity to act like that!” I thought she was right, but because I love hearing her, I pressed further: “Why do you think so?” and she answered: “ Because he had so much faith that he couldn’t think of anything other than what his heart was focused on. He was single-minded. It is courage and purity in one”.
Perhaps, that is what faith is, after all, courage and purity in one. It made me think, again, of Kierkegaard’s assertion: “Purity of heart is to will one thing”.
And I remembered all the times Mom asserted, as if she’d known Walt personally, that he had no contradictions, that he didn’t hesitate. Only integrity can account for the synchrony he had with life. Only integrity can give one the certainty that the soul does exist.

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