Monday, November 10, 2014

INTERSTELLAR: The Stars and Our Selves

Went to see Interstellar last night, in glorious 70mm IMAX (2-D!) format.

Huge. Still digesting...

This film paints on a VAST canvas. It involves some PROFOUND reflections on high astrophysics, consciousness, ethics and Love. Right away, you can see the potential conflict here: How do you tell a story on such a scale, and not lose the humanity that must comprise its narrative core.

Answer: Like this.

The great achievement of Interstellar is that it folds the humanity of its characters (and its characters as avatars of Humanity) into the very quantum foam of its storytelling.

They are one and the same.

There is an intimacy to the thing that resounds in even the most sweeping of establishing shots, the most mind-bending of theoretical constructs. This is accomplished in subtle ways, like the POV, "rocket-cam" nature of most of the spacecraft sequences (this is happening to You, not to Them). There are really very few of the standard distant, 3rd-person-observer tableaux which are so ubiquitous in spaceborne cinematic SF (though the few that do appear are simply breathtaking!).

The objective here is not to point out how puny we are compared to All Of It. It is to establish that, puny as we surely are, we are still the heroes (and villains) of ANY story that involves us. Our hope and dread and resolve and Connection and Love are what propel us into the Big Black (or what SHOULD, so long as we 'do not go gentle into that good night,' so long as we do not succumb to complacency and despair, so long as we preserve and nurture our Explorer's Heart, our Will to survive). We bring the good and evil and valor and cowardice and nobility and cravenness with us, no matter how immense the journey.

"No matter where you go.....there you are."

And, in the end, in the funny things that happen to spacetime when its physics are pushed to their breaking point, we find that the nature of our consciousness, the purity (or putridity) of our intentions and motivations become (or, rather, reveal themselves to have always been) PART of the equation.

The most important part, really.

For the particles that form us still swarm in their entangled dance, indifferent to distance, be it a micron or a mile. Or a million-million light years.

We are, each of us, a world unto ourselves, and yet our trajectories through the N-Dimensional topographies we traverse are perturbed (and --if we are VERY lucky-- defined) by the gravitational forces that bind us to the Other(s) who travel with us.....even if they are separated by blood-freezing distances and durations.

It is LOVE --variously defined-- that sculpts space and makes a tinker-toy of time.

I suppose I could quibble about such unsplit hairs as coriolis forces in spin-simulated gravity if too short a moment-arm is utilized, I could bellyache about the VICIOUS radiation environment around a black hole with a luminous accretion disk, about the orbital dynamics that would have to pertain, in order for certain time-dilation ratios to apply, could grouse about a few overly-chatty scenes and a smattering of instances of strained dialog.....but all of that would miss the point by such a wide margin that the point would not be a naked-eye visible object from such a course.

And that Point is embodied in the gentle Hope that permeates even the darkest moments of despair in this film. It lives in the bitter tears that fall from the eyes of frustrated Love, in the serene but steely resolve that shines from those eyes at the chance to be of Service to that Love....even if the fruits of that Service might never be seen.

For if each of us is a world.....then our world is each of us.

And so long as the Blights that might afflict its soil are allowed to settle, uncontested, on the surfaces of our souls...that world begins to die, and inexorably to bury us in that very soil, while we watch in numb helplessness.

But so long as we rage against the dying of the light, remember who we are and to whom we are bound in Love, then that light may yet coalesce into luminous spherical portals, which resolve into the eyes of those whom we carry with  us.....wherever we go.

And that is a very encouraging thought.