Movie Review

Infinitely Polar Bear: Decidedly Luke-Warm ‘Till the End  Author of The Search for the Beloved

“The movie Infinitely Polar Bear is a script-rewrite of the past with acts of emancipation!” – Sarah West, review

Movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana
Movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana

I’m writing in my underwear drawer. What once was my underwear drawer. Its one of those old dressers with a first drawer that is not a drawer but whose face unhinges laying flat to provide a writing desk. It has cubbyholes I imagine for tiny letters, stamps, petite envelops and type A, blank cards for the very well organized and for one who has not much to do otherwise. Can you imagine? A desk covering all your needs that has a depth just over that of your laptop and cubbies for everything available from the 19th century? No space for 12 external hard drives. No card readers. No myriad USB cables…

But I digress.

I am here to talk about a movie.

I just saw Infinitely Polar Bear – I must admit, the title captured me. I have a thing for Polar Bears – no need to go into it now – well, just a hint: I like white a lot and I LOVE animals. Its about a “bi-polar”/depressed/manic polar bear. Well, actually, its about a man, Cam, played by Mark Ruffalo, who calls himself a polar bear to his kids. That’s how Cam names his mental illness. Infinitely Polar Bear is a great storyline, brilliant concept, in fact – on the lines of Running With Scissors, I’d say. Running is utterly riveting and compact with ripe emotional and genius psychological content, Polar Bear not so much. I’m reminded of Michael Keaten’s Birdman but Ruffalo carries none of the striking conviction and weighty understanding that Keaten unequivocally carries in his Oscar winning, emotionally captivating and transformative, transcendent film.

Something’s redeeming about Polar Bear, though, and here’s why:

Its the 70’s and mental illness was as common as in any era and still misunderstood – like now – and, the main character, Cam, is a classic white, “blue-blood”, Harvard-expelled husband to a beautiful black wife played by the exquisite Zoe Saldana. The only thing is, the best actors, for the most part, are their two beautiful children in the film. They are as natural as natural can be. Potent in the right moments and easy to forget you’re watching a movie in others. Graceful and unaffected. The two leads on the other hand… I’ll pick up that theme in a bit.

Mental illness is a complicated thing and living with a mentally ill person is just as complicated. In this production, all the elements are there for a great movie except the element of emotional torment.

You see the time-stamp of 60’s and 70’s style 8mm scratchy, orange-hued film interspersed for character and a jumpy style camera capturing the era’s vibe. Unforgettable is the finest in vintage cars including a just gorgeous china blue Bentley from some bygone era gifted to the male lead from his certifiably looney grand-mah whose illness includes stereotypical blue-blood, tight-wadding turned control freak psychopath. You just get a taste of her enough to clearly spell out the source of things or at least that long line of cogs in a discrepant wheel, that distorted bead on the chain of fore-bearering tyrannical / victim swingers.

Mental illness is hereditary and denial of love is more the cause, in truth, but the psychiatrists have never been great lovers, perhaps, and that’s why they write all the books on the matter and name all the illnesses and never find a cure to boot leaving the “cure” to megalomaniacal pharmaceutical oligarchs.

For me, the movie fails in so many ways but then wins in the end. Can i say my ending review at the beginning – I’ve added to this so we’re maybe in the middle? I feel a little jumpy in the head and insecure. Not that I already wasn’t to some degree, after watching an actor attempt to be bi-polar, I’m enjoying acting out, too. Hopefully, I’ll have something worthy of your time and energy even in my state of slight taking-on-of-the-protagonist along with my lack of an editor – my grammar not so perfect. I do like typing though.

Living with some level of mentally ill family members and the coping mechanisms that all develop in order to survive is something a high percentage of people have in common though many never talk about – “high” is just a guess, an assumption, an experiential, scientific observation. I wear the glasses I put on, ay?

The level of mental illness here in this movie is, I’d say, on the medium level (whatever that means. I’m only trying to clarify the content not be an “expert”. Working with my clumsy access to words). He’s not violent to the degree of actually hurting them. Cam just acts out a certain level of severity with disjointed emotions, words, screaming, doing destructive things, etc. – if you look at just story-line – just the script so to speak – and, compare it to the experience of the movie, of the action, the emotional content isn’t there, its in the story-line and the visuals but not embodied in the acting. This is what I miss.

Such serious manifestations such as in this movie, really, would incite terror, deep grief, profound confusion, outright unhealthy detachment to life itself, and others, and a pressure-cooker rage all utterly untouched in this film by, especially, the main two actors, Saldana and Ruffalo.

The beginning of the film’s scenes are filled with explicitly distraught scenes but the actors barely scratch the surface of the fear and rage and sheer hopelessness that these would incite. Zoe’s character, the mom (I can’t remember her name – Maggie. I looked it up), is trying to get away from Cam to keep her and two young children, about 8 and 12, because he’s expressing a frightening episode. They’re in the car rushing to drive away. You think she wants to get away for good. As they’re about to back out out of the driveway, Cam comes running from behind them dressed only in the reddest of tighty-whities or cheapest of Speedo knock-off’s, screaming not to go and promising he’ll get better. As she puts the car in reverse, he grips the hood forcing it open and smashes about with his bare hands in the engine compartment to pull out anything that will come with his force (think The Hulk. I know, but I couldn’t help it), closing off their escape hatch, he brings his arm out in defiance and victory showing her his miniature, medusa’s head of mangled, tangled engine hoses and wires.

She’s frozen. Then, we see her in the back seat with her kids just holding on, trusting the locked doors hoping they’ll survive his insane possession. Now, this is just the opening scene. You’d think you’d be gripped with terror. I wasn’t. I should have been. All I did was let my mind wander to when my own brothers did similar things – different but similar, some much scarier. There was no emotional charge in witnessing this scene. Either I’ve been healed by some miraculous therapy and detached from the insanity of humanity and can observe now without emotion or, the actors failed to feel. The fourth wall was broken throughout the film. The realm of being lost in the movie took more than half-way through to get me there. It was a lonnnng and superficial foreplay.

As great as Ruffalo is hailed to be, he failed in this one, pretty much for the whole movie. He’s a cute drunk and quirky quack who rages at times but my skin never bristles. Not even once! when he raises his voice as he hits his emotional wall. This should be an emotional roller-coaster ride for everybody who’s in their seats and on the screen in the scene! But, its not. Its flat. Even keeled, almost, with plenty of color and that scratchy vintage film surface to convince you where they want you to be.

All the set decorations are there. The scenes with the crazy rearranging of furniture, of anything and everything for that matter. His disrobing the 1970’s dial telephone for no apparent reason except being compelled to unravel things. Unscrew every box, detach every wire in the phone ‘till its a-jumble, again, like the neurons in his head. He wants the world to mimic his chaotic mind, his lost synaptic groove. He’s more comfortable in disorder. Like attracts like. He’s ungrounded, untethered and unspoken interspersed by seemingly perfect, content moments of domestic cooking-bliss except for the clean-up.

The family lineage of pain wreaks havoc and he’s the bearer of the good / bad news: The final expose of truth, hidden no longer. This should be astounding to witness – a revelation as we go along about humanity’s fragility in the face of cold, fierce, manipulative uncaring witches and warlords to say the least. In his continuation of episodic fits into the middle of the movie, we go deeper. He returns to dismantling everything he can get his hands on: the bicycle comes apart even the spokes of the wheels are splayed in a frenzy worthy of high art Duchamp would most certainly appreciate and both he and Warhol would put a high price on.

At different moments, you see the hoarding factor of his illness. Boxes upon boxes frantically piled up filled with discombobulated items mirroring more of his mania for mangling. Electronics of all sorts packed like sardines anywhere and everywhere. Unlivable disorder. Keeping the crazy going: projects he can toy with, tinker with. Fix. Unfix. Maybe one day he can sort out all these things and he’ll sort out all the craziness of his family-upbringing along with it.

He is good at fixing things on the flip side. He can flip. He can bring order. He can be mechanically inclined not just to leave something unusable and whacked. He can cook, too. That’s his main gift. Back to fixing the mechanicals, for instance, he puts a solid dead-bolt lock on the apartment door to keep his kids safe while he goes out on one of his rampages leaving them terrified and alone. The thin, gold colored sliding chain just doesn’t cut it when he arrives home one night from an binger, alcoholic and all, to find himself locked out, again, by his own kids too scared to let dad in in that state. Rightly so. The first time he came home like that he was kind about asking them to open the sliding latch manipulating them with apparent kindness. The next time not so nice destroying the chain’s existence with one heavy shoulder shove into the door.

He’s sorry as many times as he’s episodic. An addict is an addict is an addict. Though the kind of mental illnesses many suffer from from, most addicts can recover with an intervention and perpetual persistence. This level of mental illness is mostly a mystery to this day (I have my suggestions. Stay tuned and see my website: and often is left untreated to the core and simply masked by something to be addicted to – some medications quell the seemingly untamable fierce dragon. At one point Cam is asked by his wife if he’s been taking his meds. He replies, paraphrasing, ‘You know, Lithium has not been confirmed to work,’ gazing into the 3 quite large, translucent capsules he’s poured from the large, bulky bottle he keeps in the medicine cabinet.

Are the size of those tablets and bottle a metaphor for something? They both just looked monstrously large to me – Just saying.

“What works?” we might ask ourselves in the quiet of the night when we have time to ponder the things in the day – and the night that haunt us. What does work? Certainly not this movie. Till the very end. The culmination leaves you feeling complete, resolved, happy even. That’s quite a pill after all I’ve said. Quite an accomplishment. Some kind of healing happened here. Through a perseverance shown but not felt in the movie till the very, very end.

This movie is disney-fied version of something very deep and a story so needed to be told and felt in our era – in every era. Its definitely worth-while and for some, possibly quite satiating, I think, if you’ve never lived through it and know better.

We need to see the roots of insanity and we need to see those who survive and how. I say roots because even these children raised by the insane will have something to tackle. As healthy as they are portrayed in this movie, I’d say it would be a rare child not scared out of their wits and retreating to the closet, under the bed and anywhere else for that matter by this whole scenario or, the opposite of acting out through violence and dominance to compensate for the uncontrolable by trying to control the situation, themselves and outsiders. Though the eldest girl (I can’t remember her name, either, or, the other one for that matter. It just didn’t stick. I don’t even recall hearing it. What does that say? Names aren’t important anyway) is shown with her hair moving toward a fine, respectable bird’s nest, there’s no emotional equivalent in her character for this physical manifestation of distortion / suffering at the hand of a somewhat severely unstable father and often absent mother.

She, actually, is the most confident and outspoken and sane one of the bunch, well, the younger girl is very confident as well and equally sane though more quiet. No child would have this kind of confidence growing up in this environment. I get it that confidence can be a coping mechanism masking the fear of vulnerability and the need to organize the unorganized. Parent the parent which is what they are doing – something of which I know all too well. But, still, there is no real tugging hint of either child’s severe pain only mild annoyances to barely bared frustrations.

The thing they did, the writer’s, is trace a potent, authentic story-line and add a visual which cues in all the depth and on top, light it with strings of resolutions and stances of power that we all wish we had the state-of-mind to say way back when when we were in these hell-filled, demonic scenarios.

The film is really a healing in that way and that’s why it resolves neatly. Finally, someone, everyone, a few, speak up. Stand their ground. Say their truth – even with their fear nipping quite strongly at more than their toes.

Mental illness is rampant, takes many insidious forms and infects our lives on a daily basis. Maybe its our boss. Maybe its our co-worker. Maybe its our underling. Maybe its ourselves. Maybe its all of us. Or, some of us. Politics. Racism. Rape. Pedophilia. Slavery. Trafficking. Poverty. Starvation. War. All the variations on the insanity theme often condoned by the dominant force.

I’ve heard of those who tell tale of their beautiful lives, their happy, unscathed childhoods filled with happy birthdays, meaningful “I love you’s” and supportive words who’s energy would fuel New York City. But, for the rest of us, we are remnants, shards of our real selves and we have to re-collect ourselves back into a semblance of wholeness that will never look like those that were never torn in the first place. We’re patchwork Sally’s and coat-of-many colored Bob’s at best, and worn eyeless, nose-buttonedless, unstuffed animals left by children who are left themselves. We pick ourselves up and sew ourselves back together with a thread and needle in one crippled hand, maybe even a sewing machine with a peddle to boot, if we’re lucky and uber blessed, and weave our tapestry back together better, richer than before, we hope, we pray, we do.

That’s what this screenwriter does. She wove a true tale back into life. Retelling the horrors of her family’s upbringing while she sprinkled it with liberating, healing counter offers. Ones she never could say when she was young. But, hey, we create our reality, right? And, we embody what we obsess over so why not recreate the past? Use our obsessiveness to unshackle ourselves? Polar Bear is a reenactment, a script-rewrite of the past with acts of emancipation!

I guess he’s not that severe. He’s not that severely ill. All his acting-out seems pretty crazy-making but, again, there’s so much niceness, sweetness, happy-go-lucky, candy feeling to this whole film coating the set-dressing of the crazy-lives-here house that I just don’t get it. I’m confused but decide to go along with the disney-esqueness and just be happy. The foreplay was long and oddly shallow and though the finale was short, it still feels good.

© 2015 Sarah West  •  2015-08-01

Movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana
Movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana
Book Review, Reviews

To Kill A Watchman, Author of “The Search for the Beloved”
“Shutting away of a story because of not wanting a character to change and become seen in a very, very human light (funny antonym) with the flaws they most fear is a true denial from which this whole problem of racism is born.” – Sarah West, review

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Originally published July 7th, 2015 a few days before the book release.

My commentary on the buzz of Harper Lee’s new soon–to–be released book Go Set A Watchman

To Kill a Watchman or Not To Kill A Watchman. This is the question!

I love how direct a commentator is discussing one of the Great Controversies of 2015 over Harper Lee’s new book Go Set A Watchman set to be released globally this Tuesday, July 14. The strictest security has been in place to preserve secrecy till then. Passions, still, are mounting with polarization abounding having not even read the book! Defendants of the one–and–only To Kill A Mockingbird are a plenty with many a viewpoints lashing about online with every reader chomping at the bit to commit murder themselves on this very new, old book of Lee’s, her original story Go Set A Watchmen – the parent to To Kill a Mockingbird!

Some already have at once closed the book forever before even before opening it simply by reading the opinion of the New York Times front page online review by Michiko Kakutani.  One commentator unabashedly acclaims they will never, ever read Watchman. Another exalts defiantly their clinging to the “old” Atticus and nothing will tarnish his godly perfection.

Is a hero ever perfect? What hero was ever perfect? I guess Atticus was – at least in their minds –  these barnacles of idealism. What world do they live in? The infamous “they”?

But, how deeply do these idealists read Harper Lee’s second generation uber revised, utterly altered expression:  her second book, To Kill A Mockingbird? First published but second creation. First child to survive birth with many operations. But, who was this child before its ginormous make–over rivaling those plastic surgeries in Hollywood today? Made archetypal, sculpted into an epic tale, stripped of its complex humanity and messy real opinions. Smoothed like a well–oiled machine. A perfect story. Not like a perfect storm. Not like an imperfect humanity: messy, coiled and rampant with contradiction.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, published in 1960, her one and only until now, where she does more than hint at the deep seeded inconsistencies of character of our so–called hero? Is a hero a hero when one is simply, he says, “doing what’s right” by the way? Colored by prejudices so rampant in the human mind. What are the underlying motivations? But, I digress. That’s a whole other question…!

I believe – and I LOVE how this new release is building all of these opinions from every direction and pointing out the amazing diversity in human opinion! Reading the New York Times “review” – its waaaaayyyy too revealing by the way – a major spoiler alert it is.

SUGGESTION: Go straight to the comments if you like, and read the review part after you read Watchman.

The COMMENTS are extraordinary! I’m telling you. The comments are such an exquisite cross–section of American and some global weigh–ins. You see wondrous intelligence, deep perceptivity and in my humble or arrogant opinion, you see a lot of judgment and radical denial – head–in–the sand at its best.

I have read many people stating, shockingly in my opinion, that they are refusing to read this new release of Lee’s because it destroys the “perfect hero” of their dreams! I’m serious! There are quite a few comments where people flat–out are trashing the book before they even read it just from reading this New York Times Book review set in bold letters on the front page today! Now, THAT’S obscene to me. This kind of shutting away of a story because of not wanting a character to change and become seen in a very, very human light (funny antonym) with the flaws they most fear is a true denial from which this whole problem of racism is born.

There I said it.

I’m scared of the lash–back from saying that but I don’t see any of those kind of blinders on in other comments so I feel safe that all we humans do have an openness in us for hearing and seeing from varying opinions. And, there is safety in numbers…?

I’m tempted to say it’s as if some are burning the great Library of Alexandria all over again!!!

There is more than one opinion in this world and this is the beauty of our existence. Diversity. Its what creates this exceptional ball spinning in space. How enlightening to have a forum where people feel free to comment though. I find people’s opinions/comments as fascinating as the books themselves… I LOVE that we have the opportunity to hear/read the inner workings of others psyches through the miracle of the internet.

For good or for bad, we humans are filled with a great variety, a great complexity that is at the same time a cookie cutter of one another. We’re a funny blend of unique and seemingly unchanged repeating forms… this magnificent mystery of contradiction is only superseded by the profound mystery of our Love.

Capote or Not Capote

To veer off taking a sharp right – or left turn, thank goodness someone has the genius sense to speak up about the authorship controversy over To Kill A Mockingbird!

There have been rumors abounding for decades about how much Truman Capote, Lee’s childhood friend and character in Mockingbird, may have contributed to its final revelation. Some surmise on the extreme, that only through Capote’s efforts did Mockingbird become the masterpiece now voted as the greatest book of the 20th Century.

A commentator who brings to light this issue quotes succinctly about Capote’s well–known character as a braggart to say the least. I never met Capote – do I even need to say? (but how we judge don’t we!) – but, I have listened to him in interviews and through documentaries. Arrogant or not, I think this commentator I’m referring to is quite right that just about anybody would, finally, burst at the seams to report and reveal their contribution to such a liberally acclaimed work of art! And, their description of his character certainly hits this point home through and through.

One thing we do know, Capote had no shame at all about revealing all the secrets of others he knew like those of the high–society folk who saddled up to him after his fame from In Cold Blood. Look for the infamous roman à clef Esquire Magazine article from 1975: “La Côte Basque 1965.”

At rest in his New York Apartment
At rest in his New York Apartment

I don’t believe he could keep a secret of someone else’s though he closeted away many of his own hording more and more, confounding those that dropped away one by one like flies to a foul light more clever than instinct to run from that which can kill leaving those former devotees and prideful clinger–on’ers wondering which secrets were lies and which were truths.

I love, too, that a commentator, honors the truth of Harper Lee’s essential contribution to Truman Capote’s own greatest novel, In Cold Blood. A very real, identifiable, inarguable fact, that it is her research, her personality that so gracefully acclimated to those she interviewed for Capote’s book (those same people who completely rejected Capote on the other hand), etc.  without which, there would be no In Cold Blood as we know it.

And, I must mention, Lee edited In Cold Blood and some say contributed greatly to its writing. So which is it?

Many people are prone to gossip exposing of other’s deep, dark frailties/crimes while they themselves shy away from their fears sealing from sight their own pain. Who wants to look at themselves when they can while away the time being a shill for their own seeming good at the cost of trusting, naïve, arrogant and mournful and not–so–mournful souls. How much did Capote (I just, finally, let myself be conscious of a disturbing similarity of words in his name) create a foil for his own pain with the horrible betrayal of, in–fact, false friends by exposing those deepest held secrets of people who he had let think were his closest friends.

Out of revenge for feeling used himself by those high–society epps, for feeling like a dog–n–pony show was he motivated? Yet, how did he use them? begs the question.

And, too, I have to ask, how did his psyche fair to bear four years of immersion into the minds and entire lives of two… known, ultimately convicted horrendous murderers? I’m scared just to write that word especially in association with the facts that we know from his book. Can you imagine being him? He who delved so deeply into these two’s lives for the benefit, entertainment, education, demonstration, enlightenment of the public, the curious – ever curious at any cost public – the reader?

He who became so close to these two to have ingested, digested, gestated and birthed this baby of a book – his greatest novel? At what cost to him was this fruit of his loins? This named Frankensteinian by–product? He chose it. And, still, I ask, “At what cost?”

What did he think, decide to do in the aftermath of everything? Of the culmination of witnessing the inhumane murdering of two murderers he had come to know so deeply. Twisted. Intimacy with the devil? All for the good of a great story ever told?

Was this his To Kill A Mockingbird? Was this his version of the tyranny of the Deep South’s patriarchal prejudice? Was he commenting on the horrors of two humans or the society which birthed what they became? Was it satire in the end? Was it all a commentary on the horrors of abandoning children? Of neglect and abuse turning into greater abuse, incomprehensible terminal abuse?

How much could Capote bear? How much could he who suffered ridicule and harsher, still, ostracization?

Was he trying to heal a wound, correct a social imbalance, point out the insane hypocrisy of the ruling class who rule and out–weigh others even in their true minority? Was he trying to balance the scales through opening the secret door to the slave owners’ windowless, lightless basement bed–chamber filled with sharp, metal devises of torture?

Is this what Harper Lee efforted to do in her first novel? What some call a first draft? Is the core of Watchman? A “first draft” or the first and final story? It is the final story now? It is the one we will be left with. Indelibly. Like it or not. Read it or not. Watchman is in the air and in our consciousness, utterly, already. Here to stay it is. She has done her work. Prepared the way. For this time. For this work. For our minds to receive her final mission, her first transmission.

Who is this hero? Who is this bigot? Who is this slave owner? Who is this tyrant? Who is this father? Who is this murderer? Who is this policeman, police state? Who is this protector? Who is this betrayer? Who is this Watchman?

She is the opposite of Truman. She kept all the secrets…. other’s and hers… until now.

And, she has opened her door… after all these years.

We may walk in… or not.

We decide.

PART III:  Hers or Not Hers

PS: I can’t wait to read Go Set A Watchman! I’m just – to quote myself – “bursting at the seams” to read it!

Who will ever know what this book was when she first submitted it and how much of it is revision of hers, suggestion from editors, publishers, etc. and how much of it is those business builders fingers plying at her original creation;  we’ll never, never, ever know.

But, what rings true for me, is this book’s worth on its own along with its inseparable off–spring Mockingbird. And, Watchman may, even – actually, bear the fruit of a deeper, long called for conscious transformation that Mockingbird only hinted at. Who was distracted by that “heroism?”

I say “hinted” because I am talking about the quieter truth in Mockingbird that has not been trampled upon and all but washed out (pun intended –––) in this new release of what’s old and original – the Watchman who observes. She observes. Is the Watchman a judger? Is the Watchman a notator. Is the Watchman a Judas? Is the Watchman a savior? It this Watchman a reporter to offer us the change gazing in the shiny looking glass to see what we will see? Are we the Watchman?


This author is a woman. She is a daughter born in the south in an era wrought with injustice long held strong by the male dominated domain called This World. Bigger, broader than the South but, colloquial or global, tyranny of all sorts breeds its poisons and engenders its mutants – malformed, aberrant to create something new and beneficial or, torturing and evil all depending on that unique thing called free-will and the strength there of.

SHE wrote this book. This pair – two sides of the same coin. SHE wrote this dueling effort that flanks her past and future as she stands in the center gazing from her perspective in adulthood turning back to her fears, confusions and will to survive her own childhood as she saw other humans NOT survive.

SHE gazes forward to her future by looking at the man who helped make her:  her father. The man whom she idolized as a god, a man who she feared and loathed as she discovered his fallibility and inability to be the hero of her own dreams. A man whose hand bound others and broke them.

Is the dominator always the one who wins? Can he change? Can he open to humility?

PART IV:  To Grow Up or Not to Grow Up / To Speak or Not To Speak

Reckoning ones own flaws is something we all must do to grow up and move on in life fulfilling the destinies toward which our hearts and souls propel us. As we do this, we inevitably face the perceptions and misperceptions of the humanity of our parents.

Because of their imperfections, we may blame for our own or, we may see them, react and grow with awareness and acceptance using it all for fodder in addition to inspiration for the fulfillment of our own lives. Its up to us from moment to moment.

This, to me, is the purpose of Watchman. Though there are many levels, of course, this is one of them.

And, another, to ultimately – simultaneously – call out the horrors of the inhumanity of humanity. Racism is but one. One that has fueled the greatest of crimes. These crimes honed rich and passed on and on until we cannot live in denial and as a product of the sickness of brainwashing whether our own hand is used or we turn away from the truth.

“Don’t Turn Away” this book says, to me. “Don’t turn away.”

Harper Lee says, “Look, now. Look!”

“Look deeper! Take a second look! I cannot die without this truth of mine that is yours being seen… heard.”


“Listen to me, my story that is YOUR story! This is OUR story!”

“Listen, finally.”

“We must.”

“I cannot die without trying. I cannot die without you listening.”

“Please, listen….”

“Please listen to my story. Please listen to me!”

“Please listen to your story. Please listen to you.”

“Please listen to each of you!”

PART V:  To Save or To Kill

Racism which burns at the very soul of those who suffered for millennia to etch fear into those who remain… to sear powerlessness into the fabric of consciousness like a psychic branding more effective than any chains or iron bars could be.

My prayer is that “Go Set A Watchman” is an ever deeper eye–opener to the truth of our dualistic nature of goodness/greatness/heroism and selfish/small–minded/cruelty/vile violence–beyond–belief that lies in the potential of the human psyche.

What group mentality can engender in those whom we like to see as good. But, turn the corner and what do they do when you are not looking? What power/dominion/dominance/control do “they” still hold over those they see as their progeny?

Is slavery of a race any different from slavery of women? Slavery of children? Slavery of all kinds? Slavery of other? Slavery of ourselves?

Our desperate need to control?

“SPEAK OUT” is what Watchman is SAYING.

Harper Lee is speaking out.

And, THIS is why she was “rejected”. SHE was rejected. HER voice. HER words. HER perspective. HER ORIGINAL STORY was disallowed. HER true story.

I believe Watchman is a true story. It is what she intended to share. It is personal. Deeply personal. It is her perspective on the environment she grew up in. The contradiction of life and of death. The POWER TO SAVE and the POWER TO KILL.

The contradiction of a man saving her life and a man killed out of racism. The contradiction of a man who raised her and a man who dominated others. A contradiction of black and of white. The contradiction of men vs. woman, children vs. adults, humans vs. all others.

Of witnessing the human fight over what is yours and mine. Of what is perceived as pure and impure. Over what is bigotry and hatred, and fear and reprisal, and shame and guilt, and a cycle that cannot free itself without being seen for what it is and then for what it isn’t and then… for what it is again… What it really is… What we all really are….

And this is how the book ends…. opening us, the reader, again, as we were before, but in a new way, to a deeper truth, to look within… to really see. And, hopefully, prayerfully, beggingly and, so too, it is a detached offering, part hopeless, despondent at this point and containing that grain of faith, planting that seed, yet again – This is the hope of all writers, isn’t it? – that, perhaps, we are to really, really change, finally.  We have this opportunity.

What will we choose now?


Sarah West is a composer & presenter of Celestial Mystical Opera and has performed and taught throughout the world for over 15 years. She has 9 CD’s available and numerous transformational books including her newest release, the 15 Year Anniversary Edition of “The Search for the Beloved”.