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For Beatles fans this won't be necessary, but for those who got this far without them, Jai Guru Deva OM is the first line of the captivating refrain to "Across the Universe." Fiona Apple sang a wonderful version of it for the Pleasantville soundtrack. I'll have something to say about that in just a moment. The Beatles came by that particular phrase as a result of their association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an association that made Eastern religion, or pop versions of it, an essential component of the Sixties. It means — more or less — Hail [or praise] to [the] Guru [named] Dev[a], followed by an incantatory . Swami Brahm­ananda Saraswati,
Shankar­acharya of Jyotir­math (Guru Dev) was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's guru. The line that follows it, the one I summed up with "La, la, la, la. La. La la…" (taking Amie's uninhibited lead) is "Nothing's gonna change my world." In fact, the next four lines are "Nothing's gonna change my world," sung like a mantra. One of the great songs of the Twentieth Century.

It's use in Pleasantville, however, points to an inherent flaw. The underlying theme of Pleasantville is the resistance to, yet the inevitability of change. Weaving several symbolic lines into one, the Sixties were confronting and replacing the idyllic Fifties, the predictable was making way for the unexpected, the ordinary for the extraordinary, innocence for experience. So, just as color was on the verge of fanning its peacock wings on television, the citizens of Pleasantville, though not all of them to be sure, were on the verge of blossoming. The last time color and black and white were so cleverly contrasted in a film was when Dorothy woke up in Technicolor Oz. But, "Nothing's gonna change my world" is essentially a statement of resistance, whether directed at the old world or the new. Color was strongly resisted in black and white Pleasantville. The irony to me is that jingle jangling multicolored hippies (my contemporaries) on the road to enlightenment sang or hummed to themselves, "Nothing's gonna change my world," as if holding on to their perceptions and beliefs, as if resisting change with all their might was the lost key to transition and ultimate happiness. Every new belief seems eternal. The lyrics probably should have been, "Everything changes my world" — because nothing happens that does not change everything. Without knowing it, they were ever so happily on a collision course with what they replaced.

So, the use of the song in Pleasantville struck me as ironic. "Change is constant," said Heraclitus. "You cannot step into the same river twice." Therefore…

Ah, yes. Therefore.
 
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