Academic journal article Shofar

Spin Explained: On Fallen Angels, Free Will, and Fixing the World

Academic journal article Shofar

Spin Explained: On Fallen Angels, Free Will, and Fixing the World

Article excerpt

Spin is a short film (7 minutes) that portrays a supernatural DJ who "falls" to earth and attempts to bring harmony to a complex city scene. He does so by modifying nature in modest but mystical ways through manipulations of his turntables and mixer. The identity of the DJ is only hinted at through various symbols which can be interpreted to indicate that he is none other than one of the fallen angels mentioned in various mystical texts. However, though the film revolves around the DJ and is seen through his eyes, the film is not about the DJ but rather it is about the human condition. It is about the nature of creation and man's interactions therein. It is about the interplay between free will and providence.

On Spin

After winning 35 film festival awatds within two years of its release, the short film entitled Spin has achieved what might rightly be termed "classic" status.1 Such accolades draw our attention and raise the question: why? It is the contention of this paper that the film has garnered such commendation due to the depth of its message expressed in both a pithy and hip way within a very "pedestrian" context, and thus one which all can easily identify with.

We begin to decode the short from its most telling title, "Spin," which can be understood to have a numbet of connotations. The first and most obvious is that of the "spin" that the DJ applies to his turntables. Like terrestrial DJs who altet an actual recording into a new creation, so too does the film's supernatural DJ. Another prominent "spin" in the film is that of the basketball which is the source of all unexpected activity in the clip. By his spin, both on the turntable and on the basketball, the film's DJ gives a new "spin" to a singular scene, changing people's perceptions of the very same issue.2

Regarding "spins" and personal perceptions of a particular object or issue, nothing is more open to interpretation than a piece of art, be it in the form of painting prose, film, or other media. What rules the day is not the artist's original intention but the viewer's perception.3 That being said, an interpretation must substantiate its claims to obtain legitimacy. Thus it is the objective of this essay to explain the film convincingly from the perspective of Jewish philosophy. The intent here is not to explain the film per se, but rather to utilize its astounding power to explain Jewish philosophy. In this sense the film serves as an articulation of Jewish philosophy, which might otherwise be difficult to assimilate.

Fallen Angels

The film opens in an alleyway made up of the backsides of buildings, trash dumpsters lined up periodically against the walls. In the center of the alley is a circle of light made by what appears to a strong beam coming from above. A rushing sound is heard and the figure of a man clothed in black falls from above, within the beam, directly unto the center of the circle of light on the alleyway floor. He slowly looks back, up from whence he fell, only to quickly grab his head in an attempt to take cover as two large equipment trunks coming crashing to the ground, with the same great rushing sound, almost hitting him.

Slowly at first, but then purposefully, the man gets up, head raised, undaunted by what must be presumed to have been an unwanted experience. His face is now for the first time completely visible in the strong light of the beam; a distinct full-lip-kiss lipstick imprint on his right cheek is momentarily, but nevertheless blatantly, noticeable.

This individual goes on to play out his role in trying to alter the interactions of various unrelated people in a busy town square toward a harmonious accord. He does this in the capacity of a supernatural DJ who can modify nature in modest ways through manipulations of his turntables and mixer.

Putting these pieces together, the character assembled can be described as a "fallen angel." The Zohar4 elaborates on the circumstances behind the anomalous phenomenon of fallen angels:

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him! …

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