Interstellar : An Observation of the Film

7 April 2015. Filed under category Film, General Philosophy.

I saw the movie “Interstellar” at the weekend and decided it was worth writing about because some of the concepts come very close to Monsterworks’ philosophy which makes its way onto the albums, particularly the last three: Universe, Overhaul and The Existential Codex; and indeed, the next one to be recorded this year.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
I would suggest you see the movie before reading the below…or maybe through reading on you will be inspired to see it. Who knows. Either way, the movie has 8.8 on IMDB which I think it is worth. It is not perfect of course but it is thought provoking (thought provoking enough to write this!).

A very rough synopsis, pillaged from aforementioned IMDB:interstellar
In the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.

The filmmakers force the audience play catch up as to the exact details/timeframe of the devastation of the Earth because society (at least as far as in the USA) still seems to function, e.g. it has a school system and basic services. This is not a Mad Max style post-apocalyptic film. I don’t think I even saw a gun. Anyway, to cut a long story short and to SPOIL the plot completely if you haven’t seen it already, it turns out the mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is placed there by the descendants of the human race which now operate in higher dimensional space. All along the storyline alluded to friendly aliens that placed a wormhole by Saturn in order for mankind to find its way out of a tough spot but the truth is revealed toward the end.

It would be wrong to call the writing lazy because it is central to the plot and I still enjoyed the movie, however, the explanation of “we put it there” is the ultimate deus ex machina*. It is also a huge paradox in that humanity saves itself by placing the means of salvation within reach. I guess that is ok, I was just pleased to see a movie which generally runs with Asimov’s “The Last Question” framework where mankind eventually transcends time and space. Not only that but the links between the characters, across space and time, are justified by a bond which is hard to explain solely by science, namely “love”. There are a few cool matter-of-fact lines by Matthew McConaughey about how love does have an evolutionary basis because it makes you protect your children etc, but there is the suggestion that it is something greater. It also deals with self-sacrifice which is always good fodder.

This kind of philosophical pondering is right up my street; basically because it fits in with Asimov and also a great quote by Carl Sagan “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love” which still puts a lump in my throat every time I read it. …but not right now, because I am too busy cutting and pasting.

Central to the last few Monsterworks albums is that humankind will, assuming it is not destroyed (which is what the follow-up to The Existential Codex is about), eventually supersede itself in some way to become an enlightened super-intelligence. I ‘believe’ in this possibility simply because of the maths involved, i.e. the thought experiment just seems to make sense to me. We took, say, three billion years to evolve to where we are now physically, yet our knowledge and capacity to solve proplems seems to have gone ballistic in the last three hundred years. Therefore, it is an inevitability that in another three hundred years our technology will be beyond anything we can imagine right now. Or we’ll be dead.

I choose to be optimistic and that we won’t self-immolate but I grant it is simply a choice and I might be wrong. However, we kind of have to live for something otherwise what’s the point? “Get busy living or get busy dying. That’s goddamn right.” A wise man once said.

This whole idea has the fragments of some traditional religious stories about creation and an all-caring deity but I think it is better because it is theoretically achievable without relying on miracles. Also, it explains why God lets bad things happen, which a lot of religious people struggle with when they really think about it. Priests explain it with “these are lessons to test you” but I reckon it’s just because we have not evolved into God yet. And when we do we won’t be obsessed with being worshipped by lesser beings because that attitude is just not cool bro.

Of course, “Interstellar” as a film does not become what I would call pseudo-religious which is a trap I have a habit of falling into; but the parallels are there if you look.

So. What is the point of this? Give me $100 million and I will make a cool movie too I suppose.

In the meantime you, dear reader, will have to be content with a peculiar heavy metal beat combo releasing insightful albums of which the wider world is oblivious. But, no worries.

 

*a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.

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