Thursday, 18 February 2010

Daisy, Daisy, Me donne votre réponse fait...

Today I witnessed the scariest thing I will probably ever see with my human eyes. Something that will probably scare me for the rest of my life. This is the Obelisk, from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. More specifically, the music in the picture, which is terrifying, harrowing, and beautiful all at the same time. Whether this music was intended to be of any particular orchestral concordance with any existing music, or if it was intended to be of a completely singular nature something that could only be answered by Kubrick himself, but I'd prefer to believe the latter, especially considering the circumstances of the message of the movie, which seems to be that all we are right now is a stepping stone. The particular feeling I got from this message was mostly one of a morbid regret, although there was a good deal of irrational fear in there too. This fear harks back to my point about the seeming safety and peace of minds that comes from religion.

If we think about our ancestors, not the apes, or the Homo Erectus but the Greek and Roman empires, or the people in B.C who were learned enough to have civilizations. I'm not very clued up on history. So anyway, you can see why these particular people would take solace in religion rather than trying to comprehend the vast magnitude of the history of the human race.

However, whilst the fear of the music and comprehension of insignificance is still fresh, the movie throws us a curveball in the form of the HAL 9000. The film really shines here by showing us about three different forms of terror at once, and combining them to make you metaphorically shit your pants with fear. I think I'm going to separate these into different examples so that everybody, even the stupidest of Gods creatures.

The First Kind...

The terror of the H.A.L 9000.

Not just as an unstoppable machine thing, but as the complete conglomerate of all human knowledge. The fact that when all human knowledge is combined, the only logical option is the destruction of the human race is a truly horrible thing, but it is especially bad when a creepy robot saying "I cant let you do that Dave" is enough to give you the willies.

The Second Kind...

Mans battle against space.

The movie sets in early on how un-designed for space humans really are, with ridiculous contraptions made for helping us all to survive the vacuum of space, and with every slightest little thing, even walking, being a gigantic problem, but the best representation of this is the spacewalk. This scene shows the two crew members dave is with die horribly by suffocation, which as horrible as it is, when described as a "necessary action" by a machine that contains human logic is even worse.

The very first scene of space travel shows the most poignant image of this, with the stewardess of a commercial space flight struggling to walk without the aid of special velcro shoes. However, it also shows how humans have adapted, perhaps calling back to the very start of the movie with the Homo-Erectus using tools. When the Homo-Erectus discovered it could use the bone to its advantage, or more specifically, to beat the shit out of things, it discovered technology. The technology is all around them in the spacecraft showing how the technology is becoming insignificant, or rather that we as a race have evolved as far as we can.

The Third Kind...

Overcoming humanity.

The third kind of fear ironically also features HAL. The penultimate scene, where our intrepid hero Dave has to destroy the HAL 9000 computer, for fear that it will kill him is more of a commentary on how we must overcome humanity in order to evolve. Coincidentally, Dave evolves after this into the "Star Child", and not the KISS version. Because that would be weird. The scene juxtaposes HAL's attempt at reasoning with the heavy worried breathing of Dave, showing how truly vulnerable Dave is to the cold, calculating logic of HAL. And also space. When HAL is destroyed, he is de-evolved almost exactly. He first becomes defensive, then frightened, the reasons more, claiming he's "better now". After this comes the song, which HAL sings, with an increasingly lower voice, his tone shifting from the cold monotone educated, to the almost grunt-like Charlie Brown teacher voice. This could perhaps be construed as a representation of true de-evolution in the last throes of HAL's life, with the low-tone grunts being sort of like the grunts of the pre-Homo-Sapien life forms at the start of the movie.

I just got chills...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Do it right in Heuston

Music is a funny thing. In actual fact, its a very funny thing. I can probably say with almost half percent certainty that no other single thing has made as much of an impression of humanity ever. Except for Religion. Or Philosophy. Or Politics. Okay, so there are many other things that cause more of an impression. But music pretty much covers every one of these strange life changing things, and in turn, it can be pretty life changing itself.
My relationship with music has been a pretty tumultuous one, and despite the fact that I am still only 19 years old, I have already developed certain tastes and preferences. For example, I learnt from a young age that I was not a fan of modern or current music. "Oh Shit" I thought, as I suddenly realized that my life in secondary school would be plagued by mockery from my peers. I wasn't a fan of the high pace yammering to "low" and "phat" beats. What would I do? What could I do? The answer lay with my father.

I had not at that time even owned a CD, and decided to rustle through my dad's record collection as a source of inspiration, like a salmon swimming up a some way. I stumbled across "Led Zepplin III", and was promptly blown away. I went out to the local record shop and bought my very first CD, "Led Zepplin II". I was shocked. Shocked and amazed. And ever since the music in my life has been focused around listening to the "Classic Rock". Now I realize that most of this music can be considered as terrible, terrible, awful dirge by many, but for some reason I like it. Its like a guilty pleasure that I am able to satisfy all the time. I think I have a problem. I know I have a problem, and I don't care. Who says I have to like current music, follow the charts, or make commentary on what is happening today. The world is, and has always been, a rich tapestry, so why should I focus on only one faucet of musical culture, when I have an entire labyrinth of treats ahead of me. I'm like a child in a sweet shop, and I have become obese on obscure music.

I am as my father and mother have raised me, a temple devoted to the ancient people, some of which still play. My very first concert was when I was 16. And who did I go and see? The Who. That's right ladies and gentlemen, the fucking WHO. For my very first band. That just goes to show how devoted I am to the cause.

My sister once told me, when I was young, that every single song, no matter who wrote it, or how it is sung, is about love. It seems like a ridiculous notion, but if you really think, it is completely true. Every song can be boiled down to love, or lack thereof. The are songs about the love of a woman, or a man, unrequited love, love of a country, love of particular theory or ideal, the lack of love for these things. This may or may not be true, but its a romantic notion nonetheless.

I only know one thing however, and that is my deep and undying love for one thing. And no matter what may come or go, my love will be constant. I am of course talking about The Midnight Special. Goodnight ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Neitzsche, Paradigms, the rise of the Superman, and its terrifying consequences...

Nietzsche. Say that word enough times and it will be irrelevant, much like most of the words in the English/American language. Repetition is the enemy of coherence..except its also it's brother. Its like Cain and Abel. But a little more pathetic.

Its a sad time when you realise how truly insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. With recent discoveries showing that there are collections of galaxies billions of miles away with light that is only just reaching us you can realise how ridiculously small you are in almost every sense of the definition of obsolete. This realisation can be taken in one of two ways, the glass half full way, and the glass fucked up way. The former is the standpoint that your very existence is amazing, that your life, however small it may be is a miracle of random connections of a cosmic chain, that your are a small cog in the universe's machine. The latter is when you believe that whatever you do, your existence is completely and utterly futile. You could kill someone. You could kill yourself. Should you? Well that's a question that concerns morality, and with that comes rules, and what use are rules when everything is insignificant?

Its a rocky road to a grisly end, and with the latter being so depressing, why does the former sound so appealing? Well the simple answer is; religion. Religion is best described in this context as a sort of buffer, a shield between the depressing and the sublime. When man looked up at the stars and saw a creepy and longing blackness stretching for what seemed like forever, they had one of two choices. Apply logic and/or reason to this, or go Batshit insane. religion is a safe place, much like a hammock or cocoon. Its somewhere to crawl away and die knowing that the place you are going is warm and fluffy, just like the hammock.

As with the philosophical theory of Nietzsche, things are constantly changing, and the concept of these so called "paradigm shifts" is something that is fascinating. My favorite example of this phenomena is the Phlogiston Theory. Back in the 1600s, the common theory surrounding combustion was that flame gave off a substance called Phlogiston as it burnt, and that if you were cover a fire up, the reason for the the fire extinguishing was the build up of the substance, and the eventual saturation of the flame. Of course, this seems completely and utterly ridiculous in this day an age, and its the sort of monumental change that causes the thought "How could I have been so monumentally stupid? I must be the stupidest person alive."

This sort of change seems to come around every now and then, and its absolutely terrifying when you consider that we may have another change soon that makes us seem just as stupid. This inevitability seems just as sure as the rise of the supermen.

You see, the superman is a very real danger. Every couple of centuries, there is a person who represents a radical step forward in humanity. In intelligence, or physical ability, or a combination of the two. Alexander the Great was there in 300 BC, Newton was another, as was Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla, despite their constant feud. Wagner and Nietzsche believed that they were part of this club, and they may have indeed been, but the scary thing is that we have not had a Superman in a couple of generations. What is next? A race of supermen? A singular man or woman that can either destroy of unite our already partially shattered world? Someone really, really tall? A really fast runner, or a really, really fast thinker? I am terrified already.

I personally think that a superman is not what the world needs right now. What we need is the power of human will, we need a united front against the horrors of the world. Is the answer to this religion? Atheism? A combination of the two? Something is definitely awry in the world, but if a man were to stand and try to unite everything, we would probably end up nailing him to a cross shaped object, and it would not be a success.