~ ITEM: Avatar Plot Fail or Observation Win?
~ ITEM: This film was not made by folks who live in a giant tree; “Avatar,” a sanctimonious thud of a movie; and Reality Check: ‘Jurassic Park’ More Convincing Than ‘Avatar’
~ ITEM: Blood-Thirsty Killer Marine Official Slams ‘Avatar’: ‘Disservice to our Corps’
~ ITEM: Avatar Director James Cameron Curses Out Fan
Dreams In Blue: An Avatar Review
~ WE ARE KNOWN by the stories we tell: what we see and our blind-spots; what we long for, and what we think we want.
The fundamental questions and motifs of the West are (1) pilgrimage, and (2) mediation.
- Thus, where were we? Where are we? Where are we headed?
- Plus– how do we relate to reality? To each other? To ultimate things? By what means?
Even if we are post-modern and clever and agnostic, these are The Big Questions, because those are the foundations, no matter if we fundamentally reject them or wish them replaced with some nitwitted utopian thingy.
James Cameron’s Avatar has the usual Marxist anti-Western politics and alleged loss of faith in capitalism, the military, the West; and direct criticism of Evil America in Iraq & Afghanistan & Vietnam and the whole post-Korean War modern era. Ho-hum.
In the film, ex-Marine Jake Scully electronically takes on a cloned ‘Avatar’ body of one of the local natives.. thereby becoming a mediator and saviour of the natives against the mostly evil and cruel ‘Sky People’– or humans. Even here, echoes of Christian theology (The Word made flesh, incarnate saviour) cannot be entirely erased, though all the sin and badness and misunderstanding is externalized to ‘the other’ in a typically absolute tribal/ Marxist mode. A demonized They™ are always a handy straw-man to distract us from looking inwards, wot?
The Shadows Of Reality
Yet interwoven with this usual stew is a huge amount of longing/ nostalgia for a society based on fundamentally agreed principles; for a real spiritual connection with divinity & and real interconnection with one another; for a form of paradise untainted by sin– even if the depicted ‘sins’ in question are cartoonishly reduced to those of white capitalist Westerners. We suck, and should wish to live in paridisal and imaginary pre-western North America, where sin and warfare and hate and genocide and non-recycling never existed, er.. except where they did.
The Crusading Left
The empty spots in our public and private lives reserved for sin and repentance, for wondering what’s good and true, for asking not if we can do something, but whether we should do something– these are the spots now occupied by the semi-religious perfectionist Left– seeking new categories of good and evil even while strangling the old Greco-Romano-Judaeo-Christian consensus and replace it with flavour of the month speech-codes, moral busybodying, and ever more rules.
That is: we long to belong, but know not to what, since we both want AND don’t want God and Church, or even a strong society which might infringe our all-holy rights. Reality is messy– an admixture of good and evil which exists in the world, each society, and each soul.
We long for earthly and interior simplicity, while living in a rich and glutting society; the blue Avatar natives are held up as a kind of Adam & Eve example.. ironically enough via a mass-marketed computer-driven $500 million technological marvel (plus techy-toys) which demonstrates the amazing possibility of Western civilization and technology.. even while taking a moral stand against such obvious exploitative and overweening creatures as we and our technical powers.
Western man once knew himself to be born of God and his creation, journeying through this imperfect and imperfectable veil of tears on a pilgrim’s road to the heavenly Jerusalem, and final union with God and his people in an eternal city. So outwardly, a good number of men and women would journey on physical pilgrimages to a variety of shrines, or do the same through faithfulness in local worship and good works and the holy ordinary. Inwardly, poems like Dante’s Divine Comedy depict the voyage of the soul towards God, through many temptations, sins, toils and traps.
Of course we can’t merely re-imagine ourselves as medieval people– theirs was their own time, imagination and dreams, troubles, sins and opportunities. We can and should sympathetically understand our forefathers and their many gifts to us, and so better know ourselves– because it’s all about The Pilgrimage™.
“Pilgrimage – pilgrimage to glory, pilgrimage to liberty – is the life of all creation, and the meaning of all natural and human history.”
For we cannot truly satisfy ourselves with false dreams, utopiae, literal paths to nowhere in the soul or in the world (for that is what the word u-topia means: no place). Contrary to the modern radical anti-Christian assertions, it’s actually the earthly-minded who are often not much earthly– or heavenly– good.
We must remember ourselves, set aside our overweening pride, and humbly re-learn our own full Western heritage– and our status as fallen yet redeemed and redeeming creatures. Sons and daughters of the Almighty Father, via our mediator and redeemer and brother, Jesus the Son.
End Of The Whirled
Perhaps that’s what lies behind the spate of dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, movies, video-games, and the like. Maybe, once we’re brutally humbled by our own technology, and reduced to survivors and scavengers amidst the ruins, maybe then we won’t have to think, to wrestle to repent, understand, and redeem the particular mess of the moment– or so we imagine.
After all, the mis-named Dark Ages were just such a messy time, when a previous world-spanning civilization was collapsing (in Western Europe, at least), barbarians ran amok, and yet new kings and kingdoms arose, building on the ruins a vibrant new civilization– The Christian West. The Church became the de facto rulers amidst much of the ruins, teaching, healing, remembering, administrating justice, and creatively responding to the challenges of their times by such works, by the rise of monasteries as outposts of faith and civilization, by evangelists going to the pagan tribes and giving them the faith and hence the intellectual and spiritual tools to be builders and redeemers– and so co-workers and co-authors with God of what might be and what arose over the next 1000 years.
Finally, And In Conclusion
Anyway, I liked this movie a lot. Eight-point-five elf-hats out of ten.
Even outwardly simplistic morality tales like Smurfahontas James Cameron’s Avatar can point us to the bigger and abiding issues which each soul and each society must answer– and which do not go away, be we ever so politically, environmentally or multiculturally correct.
If we think that such utopian dreams are the answer, then we’re more blind than the corporate bad-guy humans in this flick, and not even as enlightened as the tribal blue people. Duh. Heaven save us from being born dreaming to die still dreaming, never having woken up.
Oh, and the special effects are really, really, really eye-poppingly special, even more so in 3-D as Teh Binks saw it. You forget you’re watching digital actors, and an imaginary world.
Wow, with bells on. ~