Thursday, April 02, 2009

KNOWING (it isn't going to make any difference, but...)


Knowing is an end-of-the-world flick with a curious mix between science and mysticism. I hesitate to say 'religion', because I don't think it's that.

The ending reminded me of The Quiet Earth—a 1985 New Zealand film. For those who know that movie, it'll be a tantalizing hint.

Despite its grimness I would consider Knowing an optimistic movie. No doubt those believing firmly that science is 'it'—whatever they understand to be 'science'; which they probably don't, even if they are often 'scientists' themselves—will cringe at the contents, but since the debate of 'random' versus 'hidden variables' is unresolved and will forever remain that way (because it's in principle unresolvable!) we'll just have to let them cringe.

What I can talk about without inserting spoilers is that Knowing, more so than other disaster movies, rubs in the notion that you really, really need to get a sense of perspective in your life. Like seriously so.

Or, I sometimes wonder, is it actually asking too much of people; or expecting too much of them? Maybe we're talking about a 'limited capacity' situation here, that applies to most. Or maybe it's actually about what one might called 'education'; the kind that needs to be with us from childhood. But, since our schools are governed and operated by people who don't have a sense of perspective, and since most parents don't have that either, how can anybody expect—except if it happens by shit luck—that kids growing up will be 'educated' into those kinds of 'perspective' kinds of thinking patterns? The blind leading the blind and all that.

What is asking too much? Well, just that people tread the thin line between doing what needs to be done and living their lives, yet not getting carried away, remembering that everybody is just a heartbeat away from extinction—as is the whole damn species and everything else on this planet. We just don't know what's coming. We can plan and scheme and do our best to have those things that we can help along here and there work out as they should, and maybe they will. But there is a mind-numbing multitude of things we'll never control.

I suppose one could argue that this can induce hopelessness or fatalism, and maybe therefore one shouldn't expect of people to pull their heads out of the sand and take a good look around. Denial is so much more comforting, is it not?

And yet, denial in its many forms is probably the greatest common threat to our individual existence, as well as that of the species. Or maybe I should say, the 'consequences of denial' are the actual threat. Denial itself is just a, maybe very human, though immensely stupid and ultimately existentially unforgivable act.

Unforgiven by whom? Actually, it's not 'whom' but 'what'. For we may not have control over the vicissitudes of cosmic contingency or the consequences of human stupidity—the latter, some may argue, being a form of said 'cosmic contingency', because evolution made us what we are, and that's a shitload of 'contingency'!—but if we try to look up and cease denying, we may see how we can deal with a lot of those consequences, for the eventual benefit of ourselves and those who depend on us.

One can dream...

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