046 📻 The beginning and end, thereby the middle.

🚨 Assume there are spoilers everywhere. 🚨

These days, my fiction stories are in the process of being translated into German. And the amusing thing with translations is that, recurring appearances of particular ideas through particular words, which you might not have noticed in the source language, become more prominent in the target language. And in this case, the idea which kept recurring over and over again in these stories was the one of room temperature or, in general, what I sometimes call something along the lines of “the middle state.”

The middle state. I guess I really like this concept. And I like it, not as a thing to be always maintained, but actually, quite the opposite. I like the middle of two extremes. Unless there are extremes, there is no middle. If there is just one dot without a line that the dot is part of, then there is no… there is no reference point other than this one point itself.

Somewhat related to this, I was thinking about the concept of the point the other day, in the mathematical sense. I know… nothing about math, pretty much, but there are some concepts that are just… beautiful. Some math concepts that I probably don’t understand fully are quite beautiful. But then, I don’t need to understand the night sky fully—whatever that word “fully” means—in order to find beauty in it.

From the beloved Wikipedia which keeps things so simple, under the entry for point (geometry), quote, “a point is a primitive notion that models an exact location in space, and has no length, width, or thickness.” End quote. I find this quite poetic. In the 3D world, we draw a point and clearly, it has some sort of length and width. Perhaps it even has thickness, if you’re putting a ball-shaped object of some sort in space, to represent a point. But mathematically, concept-wise, the thing isn’t supposed to have length, width, or thickness. All it can have is the meaning of being an exact location in space. So, after thinking about this for a while, I was going around and seeing various dot shapes everywhere and thinking, “Imagine that thing didn’t have length, width, or thickness.”

Anyway. The mathematical definition of point aside, back to the middle state. I guess I have been really liking this concept for quite some time, since it appears over and over again and it’s so much more noticeable because it is being translated into another language.

For example, ”It was an autumn day, pleasantly chilly for the healthy younger ones, less so for me, but nevertheless preferable to the sweltering heat of summer or the freezing blizzard of winter. Autumn, the middle state, the season in which even the rooms without air conditioning meander around that all too elusive thing called room temperature—that was when we met.”

Or, “It was the end of summer, the beginning of autumn—those few cherished weeks in which Seoulites joked that they were neither living inside a steam cooker nor inside a freezer.”

And I guess I’m really into this… atmospheric feel of the middle state? This… basically, basically weather. Yes, I’m definitely fond of weather conditions. It kinda sounds weird when it’s stated thusly, but nothing conveys the feel of an event better than the amount of moisture in the air. Truly. You can smell the moisture in the air, and the way you breathe is different depending on the amount of moisture in the air, and the way the atmosphere touches your skin feels different.

It’s like, if you were a fish, you can either swim in thick water or thin water, and as humans, we can do something similar: we can move around in thick air or thin air, and when we recall memories from the past or imagine future scenes or pay attention to what’s happening in the present moment, one of the things that anchor us to a particular coordinate in spacetime is moisture in the air. And moisture in the air is greatly influenced by the seasons and the weather in general.

And, the middle state can only be experienced through the existence of two extremes. Or two or more extremes. It doesn’t have to be a linear spectrum type of situation. We can experience orange because there is blue but there is also green and yellow and red. Orange can be obtained by mixing yellow and red, but they aren’t the only extremes that exist; there are many other colors. If there were nothing but orange, orange could not be seen as the middle state of anything. The world would be orange and nothing but orange and therefore we wouldn’t see orange as orange at all. There probably would not be the concept of orange. Because that which is the only thing cannot be experienced, in this avatar world.

Anyway, so, I was contemplating this middle-ness when I watched a movie titled “Halley.” From the MUBI site, where I watched the movie, the story goes like this. Quote, ”Alberto’s days are numbered. He has been dead for years but can no longer hide the fact. Perfume and make-up don’t help to mask his physical decline, so this silent zombie decides to withdraw from life. His manager Luly, however, takes an interest in him and an unusual friendship develops.” End quote.

Within the movie, Alberto goes by the name Beto. So I will call him Beto. And “Halley” is a zombie movie in that Beto is a zombie, but it doesn’t feel like a typical zombie movie in that he is the only zombie. So, it’s not like an army of undeads is filling the screen as they’re trying to tear the living into pieces. Actually, the movie is quite soothing. And one of the reasons, I believe, is because it captures the middle state so well.

There are various ways to represent the structure of a story’s plot. One of the most common shapes seems to be the linear, upward-pointing shape. You know, kind of like the graph of a particular stock that keeps rising in price. There are little ups and downs in the graph, but overall, the graph points upward. And over time, seen from a distance, it looks linear. This is the typical growth story of the hero who faces obstacles and overcomes them.

There is also the shape of a circle that starts from the outside and goes round and round, toward the center. A mystery story might be represented in this way, geometrically. A detective finds a body. The detective stands on the periphery of the answer to the case. She moves inward and inward, toward the answer, toward the center of the circle.

And then there is a movie like Halley, and I felt… it felt like an uncommon type of structure. I would describe this as the tent format. So, imagine a straight line with a beginning and end. And with your fingers, you’re pinching the middle. And you’re pulling it up. The beginning and end remain hanging down on the floor, but the middle, it gets pulled up by your fingers. Thereby, you form a sort of triangle, but not with rigid edges. Rather, like the tent of a circus troupe, the two slanted sides form elegant curves. The tent shape. This story has a tent shape.

And the main reason I interpreted this story in this way is, I am guessing, because I am me, by which I mean, it’s entirely possible that someone else will watch the story and see it as a downward slope or a flat line. I am just one person who is watching this movie and, for everything that I sponge for this podcast, all I have is my own interpretation. Even if I were to try to get a bunch of different opinions on a work of art, such opinions would still be filtered through me. So it’s quite possible that others would watch this movie and don’t think the shape of the story is a tent, at all. But because I am me, I saw this, and in the middle of the movie, there is a character who is so perfectly the middle-state—and that character isn’t Beto. Beto is a constant in the movie, in that he is in pretty much every scene. He is everywhere and everywhen, within the movie. Whereas, this other character who only appears around the middle of the movie—he isn’t a constant. He makes an appearance in the middle, then disappears, after having defined the middle state. And this middle state guy—this guy of the middle state—the way he was represented was so… it was so pleasant. It felt like “Autumn, the middle state, the season in which even the rooms without air conditioning meander around that all too elusive thing called room temperature.” It felt like being neither inside a steam cooker nor inside a freezer.

And so… for many other stories, I either remember the beginning or the end vividly. I remember the beginning of the story when it starts really exciting but I don’t remember the ending at all, most frequently because there is no fucking ending, such as with a disturbing number of American TV shows that randomly get or don’t get new seasons, leaving the story hanging in the middle of nowhere. And I remember the end of a story when it’s, you know, a good, solid, ending. It doesn’t need to be a happy ending, it could be a tragic ending, but everything gets resolved and it is the end, it’s solid, it’s done.

But this movie, “Halley,” what I remember the most vividly, and what I want to remember most vividly, is the middle of the story. And this, not in a… not in a “snippets here and there way.” You know? When there are great memorable quotes here and there, you might remember random points of a story. But “Halley” wasn’t that way. This movie, “Halley,” really, it has a tent shape and I remember the tip of the tent ceiling.

As previously mentioned: the middle state is only the middle thanks to two or more ends that aren’t the middle. Therefore, I will talk about the non-middle parts of the movie first—in other words, the beginning and end of the movie. More specifically, we can think of this movie as consisting of four parts. The first part, the middle part, the final part, and the really-final part. And this really-final part is very short, like an epilogue. So, mainly three parts, but with a fourth part that is very short, to wrap everything up.


The beginning of the movie. The first part. This part is very soothing. So slow in a pleasant lullaby way. Things that move slowly are portrayed at normal tempo, while things that move quickly, such as people doing aerobic workouts, tend to be portrayed in slow-motion. Our protagonist Beto works at a gym, which is why we the viewers keep being shown all these people in intense exercise motion.

And perhaps because of the situation Beto is in, which is that he is a zombie who isn’t alive anymore, other people, who lift weights and perform various activities that are supposed to keep them healthy, look very sad as they do so in slow-motion. We see everything through Beto’s lens. There’s a sense of forlornness. What’s the point? What’s the point of all that workout, if one random day, you could become like Beto? The story keeps the reasons for his zombieness unaddressed, so we don’t know why he became what he became. He just is. And that adds to the forlornness.

Sometimes, quick movements, such as TV advertisements, are kept in their original tempo. That makes them look desperate and thereby more depressing than the slowest movements in slow-motion, or the naturally-slow movements of Beto. He moves very slowly. He doesn’t have energy anymore.

And the movie is super quiet. Hence the lullaby feel. Beto owns many plates, glasses, and other tableware made of glass, porcelain, and silver, which adds to the need to move slowly. He is surrounded by fragile things and he himself is fragile. He polishes the objects he owns while his own body is rotting. When he gargles, there is blood.

But if I hadn’t read the synopsis first, I wouldn’t have thought that he was dead or a zombie. It’s clear he is sick but unclear what kind of sickness it is, for quite a while. That’s part of the reason why it’s so soothing. This isn’t a gory kind of… gore zombie story.

Only after a while do we see that he tries to use tape to force his gaping wounds together, and even then, it’s clear that he doesn’t feel active pain, so it’s not like… The goal of the story isn’t to shock.

About 30 minutes into the movie, the nature of his sickness becomes clearer. He uses tweezers to fish out maggots from his own body. So, yeah. At that point, we can see. Oh. He is a walking dead body. And still, I didn’t find it shocking, because… the care he puts into these maggots is similar to the care he puts into polishing his fragile silverware and glassware and porcelainware. The maggots aren’t exactly attractive, but them in their constant wriggling movements are, because the early part of this movie is so quiet and lullaby-like, soothing in a way that they wouldn’t have been in a different story.

In this early part of the movie, Beto tells his boss that he wants to quit working at the gym. She tells him, she needs him to work another week. But before the week is over, he tells her he really can’t keep working anymore. It’s unclear if this is because he cannot bear to look at all those exercising bodies in motion, or if this is because he thinks he will fully die soon. I mean, it’s like… technically, he is already dead. That’s what a walking dead is. That’s what a zombie is. It’s a being that is moving despite already being dead. And so, theoretically, there is no end to the existence of a zombie, no? I guess it depends on the story. In some stories you shoot the zombie in the head and it dies a second time, more fully. But in “Halley,” it’s not clear if that’s what’s possible. The main thing that implies that there could be an end to Beto is that his body is falling apart. But even that may not be a full death, for reasons that I will mention later.

For now: more on the quietness of the movie, in large part due to Beto’s silence.

There are very few lines spoken by Beto throughout the whole movie. And the forlornness intensifies because it seems so clear that nobody is gonna listen to him anyway.

Nobody helps him. Whether he speaks up or not is irrelevant, because visually, it is so evident that this man has no energy, and still, no one helps him. Perhaps the story emphasizes that to highlight the uselessness of all these supposedly healthy bodies. All these living, healthy, moving bodies do nothing to help this guy who is literally collapsing in the middle of a subway station. The subway station is neither too crowded nor too deserted, so Beto can be seen very clearly without hindrance, by a sufficient number of people. And yet, those people don’t help him. Those people probably don’t even help themselves, they’re that useless.

And after someone does report him to the police or hospital or whichever authorities, he is taken to the morgue, not to a facility for the living.

This is where the middle state begins.

In order to make the middle state feel more like the middle, I will put the final part of the movie in the middle of this episode. The final part of the movie is the other extreme that provides contrast to the first part of the movie, in that the final part is so chatty, so loud.

To be more specific, in the first part of the movie, people couldn’t even notice Beto even as he was collapsing in the middle of the subway station. In the final part, suddenly, everyone is nosy and wants to talk to Beto. For example, in a changing room, a nosy guy pushes his nose literally into Beto’s face, even though Beto turns away slightly. And then the nosy guy says, “Cheer up, my friend.” What the hell. What is wrong with this nosy guy? Beto wasn’t exposing his wounds in front of the people in the changing room. Beto was dressed. So, the nosy guy knows pretty much nothing about Beto, other than that Beto moves slowly. So, Nosy Guy sees a stranger who moves slowly in a changing room, and he literally pushes his nose into the stranger’s face and tells the guy to Cheer up? Live your life, for gods’ sake. Go get a life. Go live your own life cheerfully. So annoying.

Just… really annoying people keep appearing in the final part of the movie. The boss too. I’m not sure why the synopsis of the movie talks about “an unusual friendship.” This isn’t a friendship, this thing going on between the boss and Beto. It’s not even a bad friendship. It’s not a friendship at all, just as the relationship between Beto and the nosy guy isn’t a friendship.

It’s like this.

It’s the last day for Beto at work. And Beto already told her that he is sick. And despite that, this boss figure demands that he eat a meal with her, not once, not twice, but three times or more. He says no and she keeps demanding. What is wrong with her? What if he is really sick? He isn’t obliged to tell her what kind of sickness he has. He told her he is sick, especially in this work context. That should be enough to make her shut up and let him go rest.

But Beto has so little energy that he goes to have that meal with her. And she keeps saying, “Are you having a good time? I want you to have a good time. Let’s enjoy this, let’s have a good time. What do you like? Do you like beer? Have a beer. No? Go on, take a sip from my beer.”

He shakes his head.

“Don’t be boring,” she says, and tries to force him to eat stuff and drink stuff.

The woman works at a gym and she doesn’t understand what sickness is. Maybe this is a representation of how, if you’re only surrounded by supposed health, you don’t know what the opposite extreme is. You don’t know what sickness is. You’re blind to it.

Now, I think the reason Beto doesn’t just leave is that one, he doesn’t know when the next time might be that he will interact with another human, and two, he has no energy to say no. He just silently gets up and leaves to go to the restroom, in which he reaches into his mouth to take out the food that he was just forced to eat.

And then, after the meal, they go to a club. This woman tries to force Beto to dance. And then she tells him, “You smell like an old man.”

Thank you. Thank you for pointing that out.

And then the woman takes him home. He just follows, cause, like, he’s dead. And there, she goes on and on about how she is sooooo unlucky that she always mad bad guys…? But when Beto says, “People suffer in many ways,” she says, “Stop it! Don’t be so bitter. Life is meant to be enjoyed. If not, why bother?”

Oh my gods.

Now, the middle part. Thanks to this middle part, I endured the final part, and got to the epilogue. And I say “endure” not in the sense that the movie was bad—the movie was enjoyable, otherwise I would not have watched it. There is no reason to force-watch a movie you don’t like. But I mean that I “endured” the final part, knowing that the annoyance of the aforementioned boss character exists in order to accentuate the beauty of the middle part that just happened, and also to lead up to the final-final part, which is the epilogue. At least, I “knew” in the way that I absorbed the story. I have no idea what the creators of the movie intended, and no matter how much the creators of any story say what they intended in one way or another, in the grand scheme of things, creative intention doesn’t matter for the recipients, for the audience. Creative intention is for the creator. Any intention is for the intender, not for the intendee. Once a story is out there, it gets absorbed in a million ways by a million people. The more millions absorb it in a million ways, the better for the story. It can never be absorbed in the same way.

Anyway. The beautiful, beautiful middle part. This is after Beto collapses in the subway station and before he is forced to spend time with his boss at the place of employment that he already quit.

Beto is sent to the morgue, instead of a hospital, because he is a zombie. He is already dead. His heart isn’t beating anymore.

Someone washes his body. And this washing of the body… it’s not a very long scene. But it’s so memorable. It is sooooo sooooo soothing.

The morgue worker uses a sponge with soap to wash Beto’s short hair and body. Said body has many wounds—all those gaping wounds that he tried to tape together. And, me, not being a morgue worker, kinda went “Argh, that looks like that would hurt for Beto,” even though I knew that he was a zombie and therefore it didn’t hurt him. Meanwhile, the morgue worker in this movie, he… everything he does is perfectly gentle and perfectly firm. This in and of itself is the middle state. It is magnificent. And… if I had watched just this sequence, without the first and final parts of the movie, I would not have felt this way. But because of the existence of the first and final parts did this middle part become so beautiful. And within the middle part, I could immediately pay attention to how the movements of this morgue worker, who isn’t aware of the first and final parts of the overall movie, are so perfectly in the middle. Not too gentle, not too firm. There is a purpose to these movements, which is to clean Beto’s body. And it is done neither with too much energy nor with too little energy. It’s just right. So, one of the beauties of this middle state is that it is so useful. This morgue guy does his job well.

And, most usefully, the morgue guy isn’t surprised when Beto opens his eyes. Yup, Beto just randomly opens his eyes. And then, in the very next scene, Beto, who looked completely dead only a few seconds ago, is in a seated position. And the morgue guy is still not surprised. In fact, there are other bodies in the morgue—these are the very surely clearly dead bodies—but the morgue guy is perfectly capable of eating… what looks like noodles. The guy can literally stomach anything. He calls the bodies here “good company.” He even has humor.

Morgue Guy asks Beto, “Have you been like this for some time?”

Beto answers, “Yes. It feels like it’s always been like this.”

And the morgue guy laughs. It’s not laughing at Beto, it’s not laughing at himself, it’s not laughing at Beto’s situation—it’s… it feels like the morgue guy is laughing about the marvelousness of the world that makes an existence like Beto possible.

And the weird thing is that… in a situation like this, is it morally wrong to laugh about that? To find Beto marvelous?

I don’t think so. Beto himself looks neither flattered nor offended. By this time, he has so little energy, most of the decisions as to what is good or bad are left to the audience. We can interpret freely, as we please. That’s another one of the charms of this movie. I think it’s not “bad,” in air quotes, that the morgue guy finds Beto’s existence marvelous. It’s not like the morgue guy tries to make Beto more into a zombie, or trying to make other people like zombies. No, the morgue guy was simply doing his work like any other day, and here comes Beto, Beto opened his eyes, Beto sat up as if he had never died, and the morgue guy simply sees that in this here and now and he finds it marvelous. I don’t see any wrong in that.

If anything, it would be wrong to say that Beto should be miserable—which does feel like a take that is shown in the movie as well. More specifically, there is a take that implies that people like Beto, people who aren’t normal, in the statistical norm sense of the word, should need something more or something else that normies don’t need. Or they should feel somehow differently. Or some such thing.

There is a scene at the church, where this priest figure stages people with various diseases in front of the congregation and goes on and on about the love of that priest’s god. Now, that is sick. I find it sick, the way I found the boss figure sick. But at least the boss figure, it was just her. She didn’t have this whole show going on for a congregation.

The irony with shows like the one of this priest is that this is a show that function as the external proof of that priest’s god. People like him either need the external proof themselves or they rely on the steady supply of others who need such proof, which is what the congregation is. They are gathered to claim to believe in something but they need proof, even while their own religious doctrines say that one should not need proof.

They have less belief than a gardener who doesn’t make grandiose claims about any gods, and nevertheless, knows that the flower in her garden will bloom. In fact, the gardener believes so firmly that it’s beyond belief. She has knowing. She knows. She doesn’t need proof and she also doesn’t need to scream about beliefs because she knows. Now, that is godly.

Anyway, after and before all the pretension from various people making things about some grand thing, the existence of this morgue guy who can simply look at Beto and delight in Beto’s way of being is refreshing to the maximum. The morgue guy doesn’t pretend to be delighted for Beto, I don’t think. It seems that the morgue guy is simply appreciating the fact that being Beto doesn’t have to be an inherent evil tragedy.

The morgue guy asks if Beto feels hot, if he feels cold. Beto wants to get dressed. On Beto’s toe, there is a tag. The morgue guy reaches for the tag, and that movement, too, is firm but gentle. Using the tag, the morgue guy identifies Beto’s bag and gives him his clothes. And the way he puts the bag on Beto’s lap—that too, it’s gentle and firm. This morgue guy, the tempo at which he moves, feels like room temperature. It is neither too hot nor cold.

Room temperature sounds really obvious—it’s the temperature of room, but like the room tone, we don’t usually call somewhere very hot or cold room temperature. We don’t usually call somewhere very loud or completely and absolutely silent room tone. Room tone is still tone.

Dictionary.com says that room temperature is, quote, “a comfortable temperature range indoors.” End quote. The same website does not have room tone on its list, but Wikipedia says, quote, “In filmmaking and television production, presence, also known as room tone, or simply room sound, is the ‘silence’ recorded at a location or space when no dialogue is spoken.” End quote. And the word “silence” is in extra quotes within the quote. Meaning, it’s actually not real silence. There is no real silence in the everyday world, though we can imagine it as a concept. Every room that seems quiet has sound in it. So, room tone is actually… that’s the middle state. The middle state isn’t a room with moderate noise. The middle state is silence, when you consider that a room can get disco-club loud, but also could get absolutely silent like galactic void.

And the morgue guy, his movement—it’s like room temperature and room tone.

And the guy tells Beto: “I knew this was possible. You’re very lucky.” And unlike the sales pitch delivered at the church, when the morgue guy says that, it doesn’t sound desperate. The morgue guy’s facial expression in that moment looks like that of a person who saw God—not in Beto as a person but in what is possible through Beto’s being—and isn’t surprised, because he actually believed, knew of a divine force.

Then the morgue guy tells Beto, “Hey… Don’t go. Stay a little longer. Something could happen to you out there. You could get hurt. You could be cut to pieces and still exist. You burn, turn to ashes, and… still exist. You could become an eye, and… still exist. An eye.”

Up to this point in the movie, all these things that the morgue guy says might be the single longest uninterrupted line spoken by anybody.

Beto doesn’t interrupt the guy and the guy doesn’t expect responses from Beto. And the guy delivers this particular line about Beto possibly being hurt outside with genuine care. The guy is the room temperature guy. The room tone guy. The just-the-right-tempo, neither-too-fast-nor-too-slow guy. In this entire movie, the morgue guy is the only guy who sees both the marvelousness of Beto’s state as well as the potential danger.

And the best part about the morgue guy is that, right after he asks Beto to stay, Beto is already elsewhere, in the next scene. Meaning, unlike the boss figure who forces Beto everywhere when he doesn’t have the energy to say no, the morgue guy approached Beto with such a perfect middle state, Beto was free to go. This is marvelous.

Then the aforementioned final part with the boss figure happens. That part ends with the boss figure finally exhausting herself to sleep at her own place. And Beto leaves her apartment.

After that comes the final-final part—the epilogue.

And it seems that the whole interaction with the boss figure instilled desperation into Beto. Things go really, really, really south in a very quiet way. 

There is a scene in which Beto masturbates. And, remember that his body is already full of gaping wounds he needed to tape together. Guess what happened in the process of masturbation: he tears out his penis.

This scene, it was like… Beto was forced to move at a very slow tempo, and it seemed that he was adjusting to that tempo, but then after the boss incident, he felt the desperation of needing to do something. The result was him plucking out his penis. And it cannot be attached back with tape.

As I said earlier, it seems that other than the morgue guy, nobody saw the potential upside of Beto’s situation. I mean, it’s more than understandable that Beto finds his sickness terrible. I mean, look what happened to him.

But based on his interaction with his boss, it appears that previous to his sickness, Beto wasn’t living very much either. His demeanor didn’t suddenly change. In fact, he had to go talk to his boss in order for her to notice anything was wrong with him at all. Now, I wouldn’t say she is a very attentive person, but at the same time, she is nosy enough to notice things. If Beto had been an outgoing, very alive guy who suddenly became lethargic, she would have noticed.

But he wasn’t like that. He wasn’t alive even when he wasn’t a zombie. Maybe that is why she keeps asking him what his sickness is. Maybe his demeanor post-zombieness isn’t much different from his demeanor pre-zombieness, so there is no way for her to guess what his new condition is. Maybe, for her, his state isn’t new at all. He was always like this. And, back to the middle state idea: if he was always like this, there is nothing to compare his so-called new condition to. There is nothing new for the boss to notice, or anybody else.

And perhaps even for Beto, there is nothing new to notice, until he plucks out his own penis and finally, finally that is bad enough for him. He looks at himself and perhaps thought, Yup, now I can see, this is bad. This is very bad. Only then does he take dramatic action, it appears.

Thus, in the final part of the final epilogue of the movie, the most refreshing images appear. Beto goes out into the ocean, on a ship. Far far into the ocean, he goes. This is the most active thing he did in the movie. His taking care of his wounds was in reaction to his sickness. Meanwhile, going out to the sea is the most active action he performs. Yes, it’s simultaneously a reaction to what happened during masturbation, but he could have reacted the same way as always: by waiting for his body to slowly disintegrate. Instead, he chose, this time, to go to the ocean.

IMDb says, under the trivia category, that, quote, ”Halley is the first Mexican narrative feature to shoot in the North Pole.” End quote. So, in this ocean sequence, there are rocky iceberg kind of island structures in the ocean. The whole frame is blueish white with little hues of pinkish purple in the sky. I felt like I could smell the saltiness of these… crystalline rocky icy glaciers.

The last shot of the movie is of Beto’s back of the head. He is an upright-standing zombie, instead of one lying dead. Maybe he went there to join the never-dying frozen things. There’s the sound of the wind, which is as soothing as the dishwashing sounds of the first part of the movie.

The morgue guy called Beto’s situation “lucky.” I wouldn’t call it “lucky,” exactly, but if Beto wasn’t living while he wasn’t an undead/dead, then can he be dead when is an undead/dead? Does merely breathing constitute life? Certainly, movement alone doesn’t constitute life, because clearly, Beto is moving as a zombie, and also, throughout the movie, there are so many moving bodies that are supposedly alive, but are they alive? So, what is being alive?

Tentatively, from having watched this movie, I would answer: being alive is experiencing things, whatever that one can experience in one’s own story. Beto may not be able to experience certain things now that he is a zombie, but again, it seems that even when he wasn’t a zombie, he wasn’t experiencing much. In that case, there is nothing stopping him from experiencing more as a zombie, compared to when he was one of the living. In that regard, he could be more alive than ever before. And we, who are presumably non-zombies, still breathing and all, perfectly capable of physically dying, can do the same thing in every single here and now that appears in linear format in front of us, in this avatar world. The linear format truly is very useful. It’s useful for experiencing the beginning and end, and thereby the middle.

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