State of constant wonder

"I think the brain is afraid of being in a state of constant wonder […] I think we should reinstate wonder, banish expectations." - Rectify

I have been watching the show Rectify on Netflix this summer.

It is about a man named Daniel who was put into prison (on death row) at the age of 18 for the death and rape of his girlfriend.

It's not really a who-done-it, although there are elements of that. Instead, the show is more focused on the inner and outer lives (and where the lines gets blurry in between) of people going through something unimaginable.

Twenty years later, DNA brings doubt to his guilt (despite a guilty plea, which may or may not have been coerced).

He is released into the world of his loving and supportive family, which seems great, except after years of being warped by solitary confinement, it is not as straight forward as it sounds.

The show depicts the first couple of weeks of freedom. A word which I have italicised because the meaning of true freedom is an ongoing theme throughout the show.

The show does not reveal if he is truly guilty or not, it keeps that question unanswered and proceeds to ask a set of other equally important questions.

What does freedom mean? Many of the characters are trapped in narrow lives and although they have not physically lived in a jail, they have not lived full lives (have any of us?) either, especially since for many of them, they have been singularly consumed with freeing Daniel.

Daniel's freedom is also cast into question. The conditions that he has lived under on death row, often in solitary confinement, have significantly changed his demeanour, his speech pattern, his grip on reality and he is re-entering the world as an adult, that he last occupied as a teenager, all of which have left indelible marks.

In one moving scene, Daniel is played music to by the prison chaplain the first time in a very long time in solitary confinement, and it becomes all too clear the depth of his deprivation.

It also asks about our ability or inability to behold wonder. Daniel's reaction to even the simplest things like a grocery store, an inflatable man in front of a store and cell phones, made me take stock of how much my brain has become accustomed to everyday objects and has almost ceased to see things for the first time. As a result, my expectations of what I think I see and know threaten to crush me at times.

I urge you to watch it. It is beautifully filmed and the story is told from surprising angles from which I had not thought to look before. After watching one of the most recent episodes, I had very vivid dreams of drippy cherry blossoms mingled with dark black tornado clouds. The cinematography tapped right down into my psyche somehow. It's not everyday that that happens.


  1. hmm. might try that... your label is 'being awake'... which is something. i might need to watch someone else struggle with wonder, yah? as always, spot of glistening writing here.


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