Hey everybody, I thought I’d try something a little different this week.

I’ve been watching Top Gun with a lot of company lately. It’s fun; we talk, we comment on the movie, we laugh together, we cry together. And every time I watch, I keep a notebook handy to write down any new observations about the film.

Today, I realized that all the talking and laughing and jotting is stopping me from taking in the entirety of Top Gun. Those few seconds I look down to take notes means I’m not watching the screen. Sure, if you add up all the times I’ve watched it, I’ve seen the whole thing. But have I really seen it?

So, for this viewing, I put away all the notes, locked out the world, and kept my eyes on the screen the entire time. I also tried to empty my thoughts and become one with the movie. Fully centered (whatever that means), I began.

Wait, there’s seriously a book about the Zen of TOPGUN? That I’ll have to read… fuck.

My journey began on the 12th of January, in the year 2012, at 11:30am Eastern Standard Time, if one believes that time actually exists. I was in a place of comfort and familiarity, my apartment in Portland, ME, attempting to make a connection with my Vizio 32″ LED HDTV. I was alone on this quest, but was I truly alone? Was I not accompanied by the entire cast and crew involved in creating this film? Or did the film create them?

Thoughts entered my head as I watched, like seeking out other films starring the same actors, but in this moment, these films were not important. It was almost as though they did not exist, but simultaneously, they did. Was Tim Robbins also arguing with a large duck on another plane of reality? Was Tom Cruise also threatening to anally fist Steve Coogan? Could  the actions of one Val Kilmer affect the life of another Val Kilmer? Is Michael Ironside an actual person?

One new revelation came to me; the dorky guy at the graduation at the end with the champagne and the bowl cut who says “hey, Mav” is in the first scene at Miramar. I had always felt him to be out of place, but with my mind open and relaxed, he came to me in another scene. What is this character’s name? Or the actor’s name? Are these labels necessary? Would this man appear in other scenes?

Too Zen for screenshots.

I noticed… I mean, sensed that on the marker board behind Viper, there was a pilot-and-RIO team never addressed by name in the film: Psycho and Bubba. Is the Bowl Cut Man one of these people? Was an entire subplot dropped? Is there a universe where Psycho and Bubba are the main characters?

Toward the end of the film, I began to reflect on the nature of love and hatred as two different colors of the same emotion. My hatred of Top Gun flows from its lack of quality, but this viewing enlightened me; so does my love for it. My Padawan Philip was amazed that I could claim to have even a small amount of love for such a bad movie, but that love comes from everything it does wrong. I enjoy watching a film be this pandering and patriotic and full of forced lines of dialogue; it is a source of affection to be embraced. It is simply interwoven into a weak story that should be made to live in the forest without hunting tools for 52 weeks. Is that Chinese or Native American? I dunno. Both spiritual. Whatever. Or maybe… whatnever.

Perhaps the duality of love and hate is easier to appreciate with a single viewing. There is but a small difference between one and zero, and that difference is also one. Add fifty-one, and the duality breaks, filling the movie with nothing but hate.

To find that balance after walking the path around the sun, one must be of two minds. And that second mind must be contained… imprisoned… captured… for the world to observe, and to ultimately choose its own way through Top Gun.

A notebook would probably work. Or a website. I mean, the Dalai Lama’s got one, so that oughtta do in a pinch.