Su Wu's interview with Jaden Smith and Willow Smith in The New York Times goes to some heady places. Like the final 30 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, it requires patience, an open mind, and a willingness to enter a new plane of reality.
This alternate universe is where Jaden and Willow live, and it's why they do not talk or act like most teenagers. Read the full interview here.........and now let's talk about some of the concepts they dig into.
The Flower of Life
Jaden says he's reading "The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life" along with other "ancient texts." That book concerns Drunvalo Melchizedek's theory that a group of circles, when overlaid on one another, form a pretty looking "flower" that somehow describes humanity's spiritual journey since the beginning of time. Here's a quote from the description of the book on Amazon.com:
Sacred Geometry is the form beneath our being and points to a divine order in our reality. We can follow that order from the invisible atom to the infinite stars, finding ourselves at each step. The information here is one path, but between the lines and drawings lie the feminine gems of intuitive understanding.
So, yeah, Jaden's reading a bunch of New Age mumbo jumbo. Here's an image of the Flower of Life.
Geometry is fun. Yay.
This isn't as New Age-y. It's real science theory from a real scientist.
Quantum physicist Julian Barbour has long theorized that time, as we perceive it, doesn't really exist. He argues that individual moments, which he calls Nows, exist, and changes in the Nows create the illusion of time.
It's unclear whether or not this is the same concept that Willow and Jaden discuss in their interview. Here's Willow: "I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist."
And Jaden: "It’s proven that how time moves for you depends on where you are in the universe. It’s relative to beings and other places. But on the level of being here on earth, if you are aware in a moment, one second can last a year. And if you are unaware, your whole childhood, your whole life can pass by in six seconds."
Willow says she's been reading a lot of quantum physics, so it's possible that Barbour's work has been included in that. She's also been reading from the Indian mystic Osho, who talks about the difference between the physical body and the mystical body.
The Holographic Universe
Here's more real theoretical physics.
Willow is asked about the themes that appear in her music, and she says the following:
"...the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made."
This presumably refers to the idea that, much like time, the universe itself doesn't really exist, that we are all either a holographic project or pieces of a computer program. The evidence is that particles on the subatomic level seem to have a connection independent of space and time, that they can even "communicate" across the time/space barrier established by Einstein.
If, indeed, these laws of space and time as we know them don't exist, then the entire fabric that governs our universe is suspect. None of it may exist.
Prana is a vague spiritual energy that comes out of the sun and connects everything together. It's kind of like "The Force" in Star Wars in that you can't see it and it doesn't really exist. (In fact, Prana means "life force" in Sanskrit.)
Jaden and WIllow use it to discuss the way babies breathe "through their stomach," which might be part of this New Age idea that humans are breathing all wrong.
This is all nonsense. The sun gives us light and heat, and babies' stomachs move when they breathe, but the air still goes to their lungs.
Solipsism in Art
Jaden says he doesn't like "a lot of the music out there," and that he and Willow don't listen to music by any other artist. Willow likes to read only her own novels:
There’re no novels that I like to read so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it’s the best thing.
That's right. Willow Smith doesn't like any novels, so she writes her own and then re-reads them. There doesn't even appear to be a philosophical concept to describe only absorbing one's own art. The idea of solipsism has existed for several millennia, and it supposes that one cannot know the true existence of anything except oneself.
Willow and Jaden's assertions seem to take this idea to an extreme, that only one's own art is worth experiencing. It appears to be less philosophical in the interview, and more a response of almost unfathomable narcissism.
Clearly, Jaden and Willow are not your typical teenagers. This is more than a situation of "kids say the darndest things," though. These two are interested in existence in a way most of us weren't in high school.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that neither of them are in high school! Their experiences are far different than most of ours, so I suppose we shouldn't jump down their throats just for expressing what really is on their minds.
That being said, I would highly encourage them to at least try reading a book or listening to an album by someone other than Jaden and Willow Smith. They can start within the family if they like — Independence Day, for example.
Sure, the universe might not really exist, but we're stuck in it, so an isolationist vision of art and mind might not be the best way for them to make friends once they get to fake-college.