Accidental integration: a three case study

On this blog we’ve seen many instances of integration that were proper, in the sense that they did not leave us questioning whether integrations were successful and done by integrators. However, in the first post on new aesthetics we’ve analyzed an integration that was not quite what we’ve encountered before, or one that we might not have expected to have ever existed. This finding caused me to try to explain this phenomenon of integrations that are not made by integrators, thus known as accidental integrations. This discussion could at least help us further develop our understanding of such integrations. So the question that I think may be interesting for those who study integrative philosophy is the following: Can we say what causes accidental integration? I’d like to review the most well-known accidental integrations to date and see if we can find patterns that will help us answer on this question.

Jackson’s ‘ugly duckling’

Many of us know the phenomenon that is The Lord of the Rings. The major novel, a cult classic, was written by a man who revolutionized world culture and even academic practices of literary criticism. This man was J.R.R. Tolkien, categorized as int8. He inspired many artists, writers, videogame designers, musicians, and also, among others, some movie directors. The movie director who successfully applied Tolkien’s masterpiece to screen was Peter Jackson. So the question should arise: is Peter Jackson also an integrator? The answer is no. The movie that Jackson made was supreme in most respects and unprecedented, in a way, in movie history. However, when we look at Jackson’s other works, we grow a little disappointed. Jackson’s early movies are in his favorite genre known as comedy/horror. The quality of his early movies leaves much to be desired. It’s also understandable that, when he visited all the major movie studios with his Tolkien-inspired project (and two years under his belt spent on writing the script), he was quickly rejected because he was nobody[1]. Only the president of New Line Cinema, a small studio less-known at the time, decided to make a gamble with Jackson because they both strongly believed in The Lord of the Rings.

What we know next is some of the highest-grossing films in history, winners of an unprecedented amount of Oscars for a fantasy film[2], an industry-generating classic, all in all, a miracle. How could a movie director with no experience in triple-A movie productions (encompassing a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars) create a film that defined a generation? Of course, he was helped by 250 thousand people, spanning the world, many of whom were extremely talented in their fields of work. But it’s the dedication, the belief, through many sleepless nights, that Jackson clung to when he followed in Tolkien’s footsteps and himself became true to his own idealism when their views diverged. Jackson was also lucky to pull it off. It was indeed a gamble, with a budget of nearly $300 million spent on finishing the first film, with a plan to spend the proceeds on releasing the following films, while all three were still being filmed during a period of 13 months (in a nonlinear order of scenes, too). And you can notice that the films are obviously imperfect. They do not reflect Tolkien in all details, particularly in the ending, in which orcs magically fell through the ground and Shire thrived when the hobbits returned from their 20-year-long journey[3]. Nonetheless, thanks to Jackson’s and his crew’s creativity and originality, and their belief in high ideals, we have a terrific movie trilogy to enjoy. How they had done it, we might never know[4].

The Wachowskis’ coming of age

There is also a duo of eccentric individuals whose beginning was no less unexpected than Jackson’s ‘ugly duckling.’ Warner Brothers Studios decided to give them a go with their Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003). The self-taught Wachowskis, when they were still brothers, didn’t disappoint with their first few projects. However, their natures shifted, and they found themselves different from whom they’ve started. During this period of Wachowskis’ self-identity-shifting Warner Brothers decided to dump them. The movie studio expected them to repeat their success with The Matrix, but instead they’ve received some mediocre and unpopular films. So what happened? Did the Wachowskis get lost? Perhaps they did, but, surprisingly, they’ve also found themselves anew. What we saw with The Matrix (1999) was only their platonic imagination soaked in mythopoeic appearances. They went downhill after that until they found a way to express their femininity and sisterhood. What they came out with next, after Jupiter Ascending (2015), was nothing short of miraculous. Warner Brothers made a mistaken rushed decision because, in the same year, just a couple of months after Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis partnered up with J. Michael Straczynski and convinced Netflix to help sponsor and produce a glorious achievement.


The special Christmas episode of Sense8 was such a wonderful gift to all the fans.

This achievement was so glorious that the Wachowskis were even accepted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, quite a boost to their reputation. Very few, however, know of the Wachowskis’ still ongoing project known as Sense8 (2015-). It’s a series that has already become a cult classic, which has inspired a multitude of fan art and even its own wiki. A true integrative project, no less, and if you watch the series, I’m sure you’d understand this. The series reflects the integrative philosophy beautifully perhaps because of some unpredictable interweaving of the three creators’ idealist philosophies, producing a series more realistic and mystical than anything they’d ever produced. And having even watched the entire, and thoroughly idealist, Babylon 5 (1994-1999) series, created by Straczynski, I still have no clue how the three of them were able to create a series such as Sense8. I am sure many of you will find plenty of heart and brain in this new series, filmed in 8 countries around the globe.


Picture-perfect: a screen captured from a scene in Season 1, Episode 10, of Sense8, one of the few series that has a feel of a painting in nearly every shot. Many of us fans wait for more goodness on May 5, 2017, when the second season becomes available.

Spring: another look

To finish our discussion of fortuitous accidents in works we’ve seen on screen, we should return to the first movie that caused me to wonder whether accidental integrations are possible. A very different duo of aspiring directors created Spring (2014): Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (both mat8). Their previous, and first, film, Resolution (2012), was quite different, with an ending so open-ended that it could have been anything. The philosophy of these directors is like this: we do whatever feels right. Because feelings are momentary, these directors experiment and try different things every time. So if their first movie had an ending that didn’t even make sense to them, their second movie’s ending was perfect. Yes, it’s understandable that, when you dip into chaos, sometimes you can fish out something right by accident. And they did. And so did the other directors whom we’ve reviewed. The only difference is that the first two cases were of idealP and this one is materialist through and through. The seemingly realistic elements in Spring are actually fake, so the whole movie is merely an appearance of integration, made by people who care less about it. Thus, we return, after having studied the cases of accidental integration, to an unsatisfactory conclusion: there is nothing to predict an integration made by non-integrators; it’s simply that — an accident.

[1] Before Jackson, such visionaries as the Beatles also wanted to make the film out of The Lord of the Rings.

[2] The Return of the King (2003) is the only movie that received all of the Academy awards except those given to actors and actresses, even though the film had a critically-acclaimed cast, one of the best casts in movie history, and amazing performances as well.

[3] I could also complain of different kinds of magic used in the films: the Tolkienesque spiritual/thought-force magic seen in the battle between Gandalf and Saruman in the Fellowship and the non-Tolkienesque, elemental magic in the following two films. However, these are trifles, considering that these divergences only reflect Tolkien’s and Jackson’s differing philosophies and are easily ignored by most viewers.

[4] Think of the last ten-day rush of The Return of the King (2003) to theaters, prior to which an overnight edit spree and various bits and pieces of graphics and sounds came together at the last moment, completing the picture without anyone seeing the whole 3+ hour thing straight before its release.


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