Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"That's One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap From Mankind"

"Moon" (2009) - Directed by Duncan Jones

Braving the elements, I decided to catch an early dinner/film with Matt & Sonya at the Harvard Theater last night. In spite of my actor-man-crush on Sam Rockwell (this generation's Jack Nicholson), I felt drawn to this film due to its captivating trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIexG8179K8) and the theme of loneliness through vast amounts of time and space. The basic plot synopsis breaks down to this: Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is finishing up his 3-year long duty as maintenance/observer of a mining station based on the dark side of the moon (all you Floyd-heads can now tune out). An accident has destroyed a telecommunication device, only enabling Sam to communicate with earth (i.e. his employers and his wife) via message packets (i.e. recordings) that take several months to send/decode. The only interactions he can have in "real-time" are with an automated computer assistant called "GERDY," voiced by Kevin Spacey (A distant relative to "HAL-9000"... Perhaps?) As he arrives within 2 weeks of his departure, he begins to display the expected signs of cabin-fever: witnessing ghostly apparitions, talking to one's self, etc.. The protagonist then experiences an accident that sets forth a series of events full of discovery and an interesting ethical look on capitalism, human rights, etc. (Just go see the film, already!)

I'll try to keep my reflection short: When man separates himself from humanity... he is lost. We need the presence of the other to remain sane and in each other is our only communion with God. For comprehending God is the only understanding one could hope to ever achieve in life -- everything else is irrelevant. After 3 long years of isolation, Sam Bell's emotional and intellectual stability breaks down with spats of anger and sorrow; however, solitude and loneliness much akin to that represented in this film is entirely plausible within the planet's most condense cities.

I can only relate to this material with the anecdotal evidence of my separation from friends and family this previous winter. I went for several weeks only wanting isolation, and my only companion being Clementine (a 2 year old Boston-Terrier/Jack Russell mix). It was a strictly conscious decision to experience loneliness and how it would shape/mold my well-being... an experiment illustrating how I would react to 2 months being alone on the road. It did not go well. I became annoyed with the slightest things... specifically any human interactions I had to deal with. I did not enjoy the person it subsequently made of me. I had been cautioned by Ashley May of the dangerous repercussions of this decision and I wish I had taken her warnings far more seriously. It was actually very difficult to break out of the temporary shell I had created and begin to be more sociable and caring to others...

Friedrich Nietzsche once called for the creation of the "Übermensch," a man divorced from society and coveted by individualism. Individualism is not plausible. It is my belief that we've been created in the same likeness, and all these attempts of breaking away by creating one's own "identity" that is, some how, better than the rest -- this is just a vein desire that will inevitably lead to loneliness and isolation (for a better example of the downfalls of Nietzchean philosophy, see P.T. Anderson's 2007 epic "There Will Be Blood"). I've witnessed this self-destructive ideology in some of my closest friends, family, strangers, and my self. It goes against what we're programmed to do -- to love one's neighbor as oneself.

With the advantage of hindsight, I must remember to make the most out of my interactions with people along my journey. A simple dinner discussion with a family in Salina, Kansas, or an interaction with a gas station teller in Pinedale, Wyoming, or a leisurely ride alongside my good friend Jonathan through Kentucky... I must make the most of these interactions. They will keep me grounded. They will keep me sane.


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