Episode 481: Hyrule… My Own Head… Hyrule… My Own Head…

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle the cheery subject of pain, aging, the and whether you are the self you know yourself to be.

Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather have a wide-ranging discussion on the cheery subject of pain and aging. Pete has had dental surgery, Matt is meditating to accept the inevitable march of time, and neither of them believes that you are the self you think you are.

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6 Comments on “Episode 481: Hyrule… My Own Head… Hyrule… My Own Head…”

  1. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I’m going to quote the Ashton Kutcher / Kevin Costner movie, The Guardian (2006), which I love for some reason.

    Ben Randall: When the heck did we get old?
    Maggie McGlone: Hell, I’ve always been old Ben. Ya’ know what though, I don’t mind. I mean if my muscles ache, it’s because I’ve used ’em. It’s hard for me to walk up them steps now, its ‘cuz I walked up ’em every night to lay next to a man who loved me. I got a few wrinkles here and there, but I’ve layed under thousands of skies with sunny days. I look and feel this way, well cuz I drank and I smoked. I lived and I loved, danced, sang, sweat and screwed my way thorough a pretty damn good life if you ask me. Getting old ain’t bad Ben. Getting old, that’s earned.


  2. Margo #

    “It’s perhaps better to learn how to use myself usefully.”

    Have you considered writing a self-help book?

    This podcast resonated with me as I hurt my back somehow and I should really skip Karate tonight, and this makes me sad.

    Last time I had teeth pulled I got Fentanyl and something that caused amnesia.

    It’s hard to tease out the difference between age and decline in physical abilities. They are related but not always correlated. Especially in an environment where a lot of decrepitude is caused by lack of exercise and other socio-economic factors rather than ageing in and of itself. Thus the famous study where in an elderly Norwegian could kick a young Canadian’s butt.


  3. Stokes OTI Staff #

    So if stories are either good at being stories, or good at depicting pain, where do you put the following:

    • Die Hard
    • The crucifixion bit in Conan the Barbarian
    • The Wrestler and/or Black Swan
    • Rocky IV
    • 50 Shades of Grey

    I feel like there are actually a lot of stories out there that are — at least for scenes/chapters at a time — primarily about pain. What they seem to be about, though, is a heightened, spectacular representation of what it’s like to be in pain rather than a sober, psychologically honest account of what it’s like to deal with pain (which is more what Click is about, to hear Pete tell it).

    Maybe the real key text here ought to be The Passion of the Christ. Like, I think of Ignatius Loyola, where you’re supposed to sit there and meditate on what it feels like to be tortured in hell, to feel anguish with Christ in anguish, and so on. You’re not meant to think about how Christ processed his suffering, you’re meant to stare at his pain-wracked abs and fantasize about the sensation. Something broadly similar is going on in Conan and Rocky and Die Hard.


    • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

      Yeah, I think what I’m trying to say is that the sensation of pain when it is fairly brief or minor and the experience of pain when it is longer or more intense are different, because sustained pain affects your other perception in a profound way that brief or superficial pain does not.

      I haven’t seen 50 Shades yet, so I’m not sure about that.

      But for the others, I think it’s notable that they’re all stories about the other things people do when they are also in pain.

      Rock isn’t “about” pain. Rocky experiences pain. But Rocky is “about” triumph, pride, loss, disadvantage, love, being non-neurotypical in 70s urban America, and determination. Pain, physical pain, is an alternative – something the story could be about, but the story shows it to you (to conjure the sensation), then turns you away from it.

      What I’m really trying to capture here is this sense that making something “about” pain is sort of like painting the sun. The reality is that you usually end up suggesting the sun and then skipping it and instead depicting everything else.

      Rocky is about pain in a similar way to how Pirates of the Caribbean is about the British Navy in the 18th century. Yeah, they’re in a lot of the movie. But they’re not to be taken seriously, they’re not important, they’re not accurate as much as they suggest a related trope, and they’re not in the center.


      • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

        I would even add that maybe it is this phenomenon of pain where it warps our perception that makes scenes like the Conan scene especially attractive on a sensory level. Because even if you have been hurt really bad, you don’t get hurt like Conan. You don’t necessarily feel that sensation of pain in a discrete, comprehensible, sensual way.

        Like a paper-cut has a _feeling_ associated with it. And Conan’s pain is kind of fantasizing that worse pain is like more intense papercuts with longer duration. “Carve his heart out with a spoon… so it’ll hurt more,” kind of stuff.

        It’s kind of a fantasy of being able to feel more deeply and more specifically about this mysterious thing than we do, because the experience of it when it becomes significant pressures us to look away from it or not handle all of it at once.


      • Stokes OTI Staff #

        But isn’t that true for any physical sensation? There are no movies “about” softness, but there are many movies where someone flops down on a bed for a second or two. There are no movies “about” coldness, but at least several movies about people doing things (i.e. climbing mountains, researching penguins) while cold.

        I haven’t seen Click, but it seems like even that is not so much about pain as it is about maladaptive strategies for coping with pain — which are things that one does while in pain, just like boxing.


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