Avatar – the movie. A few thoughts.

by Ken on January 24, 2010

We saw Avatar twice – both in 3-D.  It is a visually stunning  work of art. It is a creative triumph for James Cameron and his team of  amazing craftsmen. Our second time was at an IMAX 3-D in Orlando – even more stunning.  I recommend this movie to anyone. images

The setting is a forested world with trees the size of New York skyscrapers. The lushness, the green, and the creatures are riveting. It’s a two and half hour flick – but  Kim and I barely noticed the passage of time. And our  second viewing passed as quickly as the first.

The movie takes over and delights the aesthetic senses. It is mesmerizing  and worth the viewing for that alone.

The story, however, is the ne plus ultra of a common Hollywood mindset that we see over and over again. If one ever wonders just what it is that so many of these folks believe is the perfect world, I believe, this movie reveals a hint. To a generalized Hollywood, I say, as was said in the movie, “I see you!”

This movie, the setting, the people, the premise, the solutions all point to an underlying  “truth” that I believe is  shared by many in the Hollywood industry :

  • Man, to them, is the villain of existence, so we see here a  rendition of a “perfect” world where the planet itself has a conscience. She has perfect insight into what “balance” is and enforces it upon all the creatures – including the most sentient – the Na’vi. No group can take dominance over any other – the planet is the ultimate referee of life.
  • The Na’vi, the sentient beings which inhabit this world called Pandora, are communal. This aligns with a perfect order that many in Hollywood believe should be. These beings live together in groups (or clans) of only about 4 or 5 on the planet (the planet, actually, is a moon of a gas giant). These people sleep in hammocks that are spread among the trees and seem to own nothing but their loin cloth and spears. But they are happy in the “balance” of their existence.
  • Their truth, revealed in this setting, is that the “energy” of life is only barrowed from the planet – not owned. The beings, and all the creatures, bring it into themselves, use it (in balance of course) and then give it back to the all-knowing planet, upon demise.
  • The contest of existence, right down to the killing of an animal for food, ends with a chant and prayer of appreciation of the balance of “all”. One fights and kills animals while simultaneously knowing and seeing their viewpoints. They see all viewpoints.
  • We never really get to see what the Na’vi common men and women do. Mostly we see them standing around adulating the leaders and the new comers. Most appear to be spectators – though this is not clear. They appear to politely stand, as a group, and are told what to do and what to think. Again, this is not clear but appears to be the gist.
  • The people all look alike; all dress alike (accept for the leaders). There is no individual expression extant. Their loins are the same, the spears are the same. Though the planet’s forest and floating mountains are majestic by Earth standards (and interesting) it is all the same. There is little variety and almost no mark of Na’vi individuality upon the world.

Man, with his creative impulse and tendency to act for his own benefit, is naughty. His works and his creations mainly denude the good and decent of any world he inhabits. He has ruined Earth; he is out to blindly spread his wickedness elsewhere.

I admit that laying these idealistic whims upon all of Hollywood is a crass generalization. I could not speak of all of the Hollywood Elite nor do many individuals fully embrace this ideal. But collect and combined the conclusions and integrate them over the collective group – and I am likely not far off in my assessment.

Insanity could be summarized as the inability to distinguish. All is equal to all in the eyes of the not-so-sane. This “thinking” (call it mindset) tends to call for collectivism, for an allness, for the idea that truths are derived by large groups and even, as in Pandora, reside in the ultimate of allness – the physical universe. Lost is the concept that only individuals can know; can act; can create or can differentiate this from that. Only the individual can see and appreciate the beauty of anything. The waterfall only exists as a waterfall – without appreciation for itself. It is only the individual, the life unit, that can say, “Wow!”

I believe that a more workable truth is that:

  • It is through individual action that accomplishments are made. Little to nothing is accomplished by collectives. Even Cameron, himself, is an individual who expressed an artistic vision – brilliantly. As an individual, with help of other individuals, of course, he created and oversaw the formation of a moving work of art. What he did would be impossible in the world that he foresaw there on Pandora. I saw little or no art in Na’vi land.
  • Physical things do not know. Things do not guide or change conditions for the better. This is done by individual life units, be they in human form or other forms. Good (and bad) comes from and is judged from the viewpoint of individuals and is not contained in the molecules of a rock or a physical object such as a planet. “Mother Earth” is only a mother as we recognize her to be. Without such recognition, she remains a devoid rock with no conscience, no desire, no admiration or appreciation. This is a point of hot debate among some. The latest fad of this planet is that all is derived from the material universe – even life itself. We won’t debate that. I offer, only, that I know otherwise in my own heart.
  • Sane individuals operate and cooperate, as individuals, to form families and group units..
  • Sane individuals grow to understand that we are species and to exist as a species we must take actions, as individuals, to promote the survival of our own species.
  • Sane individuals understand that we survive only as well as we maintain balance with our fellow life creatures in this world.
  • Sane individuals realize that the physical universe is where we play and what we mold from that universe, what life has molded from the universe, is maintained or ignored by our own will. If we value it, it is worth maintaining.
  • Sane individuals “feel” the life force within and act to pursue aesthetics, greater sanity and personal well being and work so that others may have similar rights..

As an adding machine with a secretly “held-down” key would give only false answers, individuals tend to have “held-down” keys within their minds which can cause them act in less than sane ways. Read the book Dianetics by Ron Hubbard to achieve some familiarity with this concept. It is fascinating.

We need individuals who have cleared these ‘held-down” buttons. Then they tend to act wisely and create the ideal world that most of us seek.

But though the world, today, is made of partially broken beings, most of these  individuals, still, are sane enough to act well and have created the good that we see in the world today. There is much good to see if one looks sincerely.

This includes the artists -the dreamers of a future. The creators of a better world toward which we may strive.

This includes James Cameron.

Though I marvel at his artistry, at the product of this individual, as well as his use of that man-made tool called a corporation which acted to funnel this life energy, I shun his poorly considered idea of the perfect world. I don’t believe he has embraced the real truth behind even his own creative efforts.

For in the perfect world he envisions,  he and his works could not exist.

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