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The Taboo Against Knowing

Updated on June 5, 2011

This film is about a troubled young man puzzling over a strange state of consciousness, which occurs on a hilltop immediately preceding the opening of the film. Returning to the town below, he attempts to understand and integrate his epiphany, while marvelling, from his new mental vantage, at the behaviour of those around him. He quickly grows isolated and increasingly disturbed by what has been visited upon him, and begins to fear it may return.

The film is inspired by some of my own experiences, and explores the tension between the desire for, and the fear of, enlightenment, with a title culled from The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts. In this book, Watts draws upon Eastern philosophy and Western science to sketch a pantheistic world-view where separateness is an illusion, and each being is an aspect of the one cosmic self. He states in the preface:

This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism.

This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man's natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.

The Taboo Against Knowing is the first and, at present, only dramatic film that I have made. It was shot in a day in and around West Kirby, Wirral, UK, in spring 2009.


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