Lancaster Dodd from The Master—he says to Quill, “you’ll be the first, if you figures out how to live without a master”—
Dodd’s master? Perhaps, his work, his life work. It is what brings people to him, which he lives off of, and it is what un-moors him, when it is questioned. He is a slave to the work that makes him a master, a slave to his words and to job of living off them. He also is a slave to himself, just like Freddie, and this is where the true bond between the two exists. It is their slavery to themselves, to their own will, that makes them alike, and at the same time very different.
Freddie is violent, he is drunk, he is obsessed with sex, but at the same time, Dodd’s words feel good in a different way, they are inviting and accepting and they are self-affirming, not destroying. It is on this dichotomy, between Freddie’s hedonistic slavery to himself and his slavery to the Master, that the entire movie seems hinged on. Freddie has to chose between a Master that gives him a family, that surely tells him lies, tells him what he has to hear, but also gives him a role to fulfill, and love to share in, or the unforgiving sea of his desires. His choice to ultimately pursue his own desire says less about Freddie as an individual than it does about post-war American individualism: he chooses no master over a master he doesn’t believe in. He doesn’t give a shit about the master’s words, not unless they are directed at him, not unless he is the subject. At the same time, Dodd feeds off Freddie’s crazy, Dodd loves Freddie for the challenge of breaking him, and the fact that Dodd and the Cause fail Freddie ultimately exposes why American society rejects cults and their leaders: we covet freedom, which means we really covet autonomy of self.
"Put it back in, it fell out"
“My melancholy wants to rest in the hiding places and abysses of perfection.
This is why I need music.”- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
Motion sickness doesn’t just happen when you are sitting
in a car or standing weak kneed on the deck of a boat—
no, sometimes it’s what is around you that makes you dizzy.
Sometimes the distance between morning and evening,
sometimes the rhythm of a week, the tide of a month
are all it takes to remind you that you are just biology—
a child wet with the fear of your next real loss.
Nervous (the net will never even out), you put your ear
to the ground near the reservoir, because before you
knew what loss was you’d learned how to feel it there,
like a mirror feels your face or a shadow, your shape;
you learned from others who came, marveled by their
own biologies, holding their own grudges with the earth.
You came and heard them, watched them, and sometimes
made to join them; something about how the light
danced on the water’s surface had you singing along,
moving your body honest and without wanting. But
you know you can’t sing, and even if you can, you’d say
that at the reservoir you were not you but someone else,
and you’d be right. Because after all you were sick then,
worn weak by the cycle of your own poverty. Whatever
poverty that might have been. Whatever it may still be.