by Hugh Mungus

Faith is to the human what sand is to the ostrich.

- Lenny Bruce

In the end of the movie Papillon, are you Steve McQueen's character or Dustin Hoffman's? Do you jump, in order to be "free," or remain imprisoned on Devil's Island?

Until you critically consider this sequence, you may simply cry as you watch it, being touched by the emotions it evokes. Let's logically review this portion of the flick, though:

Papillon is a film allegedly based around the imprisonment of actual French citizens - Henri "Papillon" Charriere and Louie Dega.

Charriere was convicted of murder, and Dega of counterfeiting and fraud. After both meet in prison, and form an unlikely alliance, they become friends. Following several foiled attempts to escape, the men are sentenced to the infamous Devil's Island - which, in the 1930s and '40s, was a remote detention facility categorized as "inescapable," due to being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

In the end of the movie - having plotted his prison break - Charriere leaps off a cliff into the treacherous sea below. After determining every seventh wave washes out to the open water, but all six prior smash violently against the rocks, McQueen's character times his "liberation" meticulously. Amidst the tide, he swims toward, and climbs atop, a makeshift raft he'd constructed from coconuts and roughhewn sacks.

Originally intended to be an escape for two, at the Eleventh Hour, Dega elects not to follow his companion off the cliff, asserting, "You'll be killed; you know that?" to which Henri responds, "Maybe."

Hence, Louie is left to languish the rest of his days on Devil's Island, as Charriere floats into calm waters, eventually reaching Venezuela. It's here Henri is released from prison, after one more year of incarceration.

Simply by jumping, you've displayed who you are. Whether you survive or not is of no consequence. Drowning will probably hurt more than watching Suze Orman orally service cattle for a contiguous 24 hour period. Even so, you've exhibited the substance of your soul; you reject enslavement at all costs.

As Steve McQueen floats away on his ad hoc boat, the narrator interjects:

Papillon made it to freedom, and for the remaining years of his life, he lived a free man.

Well, that's a load of shit the size of Rheasilvia - the tallest known mountain in the Solar System. Papillon may have escaped Devil's Island, but no human on this planet is free. We're all slaves to this system, and thus incarcerated.

The original Papillon movie poster reads:

For Papillon, survival was not enough...

He had to be free.

Unfortunately for Henri Charriere, he never was free, and never would be until his dying day. Again, you can escape places like Devil's Island, but you're doomed to return to incarceration on a larger scale by the oppressive force of "authority"; i.e. government, money, religion, etc. Here again, you'll be coerced to pay, in order to survive. Thus, your freedom will be nothing more than an illusion.

You'll most likely be forced to enslave yourself at a "job" you despise, in order to pay "taxes" - nothing more than extortion - and "bills" - no more than threats - so you don't find yourself homeless and starving.

Furthermore, can we - as a species - escape Earth, if we needed to? Not en masse, nor for a protracted period of time. Hence, we're all inmates on this planet; and, as you know, inmates aren't free.

As in many prisons, some of the prisoners exist in more luxuriant incarceration, while others agonize perpetually, but a captive is a captive, and none are emancipated.

Did you get the sense Dega was happy Papillon wasn't crushed against the rocks...or sad? When he saw McQueen's character escape, was he pissed he himself hadn't jumped? Did Louie secretly wish Papillon would have been killed, so he wouldn't be reminded, for the remainder of his days, he also may have escaped Devil's Island?Just a commentary on how vindictive our species has become toward one another, since most of us don't comprehend we're literally all one.

I was standing beside my boss - my most immediate captor - at this subjugation the ignorant refer to as a "job," and I realized this person has no idea he's a slave. This entity has been incarcerated for 50-plus years, and hasn't once comprehended he's imprisoned! Even though everything he experiences belies such, he still somehow believes he's free! No matter what definitive proof I show him, no matter how hard I try, this person will either never understand they're a slave, or never acknowledge it.

"How does something like this happen?" I cogitated, as I stocked beer and cut garnishes. "Why am I forced to engage in meaningless conversation about things that don't exist - i.e. "America," the economy, Jesus Christ, etc. - when I can't stop thinking about how asinine these people are, or how badly I want our species to reclaim its freedom?

As I boil simple syrup, I realize, "Of course this person adjacent me - rambling about Donald Trump's travel ban being a travesty - doesn't want to be free. This douche bag is so brainwashed, he'd murder his own kind to protect his captors, so he himself could remain a slave.

To quote Jeanne Manning, from Jonathan Eisen's book Suppressed Inventions & Other Discoveries, in which she encapsulates one of Wilhelm Reich's personal epiphanies: "he noticed that fear of freedom lead people to cling to authority figures who promised a better life."

Donald Trump - another impediment to the survival of humanity on Earth - shouted something useless from the TV over the bar. People actually stopped and listened.

I couldn't believe I was incarcerated in this madness. How the fuck did I get here? Moreover, where the fuck was "here?!" The person beside me didn't care...but I did. It was all I could think about; all any logical being should be thinking about. But this person wasn't logical. Hence, the truth was the one thing he'd never, in his entire existence on this - one of innumerable mental institutions of the cosmos - consider.

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