Monday, November 2, 2015

#306 / The Martian

Anyone who regularly reads my daily postings on this Two Worlds blog knows that I have often been willing to make a comment on a book based on a book "review." In other words, I have been willing to express an opinion, or to make a judgment, without actually knowing, firsthand, what I am talking about.

So many books, so little time!

The same observation can now be made about my willingness to comment on a movie, without having actually seen the movie itself. 

I have not seen The Martian, but I have read a review. According to my family members who have seen The Martian, it's a great movie. I notice that the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website says that most people agree with the judgment of my family members. 93% of those surveyed indicate that they liked The Martian

As I say, I didn't see it. I didn't see Gravity, either, and I didn't see Interstellar.

In fact, I have a kind of bias against movies that depict human efforts to confront the dangers and opportunities of "space." I resent what I think of as a distraction.

There are plenty of dangers and opportunities right here on Planet Earth, and I think we should be telling heroic stories that are firmly placed within our own world - or "two worlds," as I like to say. We have direct responsibility for the human world that we create, and that world is ultimately dependent on the health of the natural environment of Earth. 

Perpetuating the idea that drama and opportunity are elsewhere, somewhere in the cosmos, sends the wrong message.

That's what I think.

At any rate, while I didn't see The Martian, I did read a review by Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes opinion columns for The Washington Post. Commenting on The Martian, Gravity, and Interstellar, Rosenberg said this: 

One of the things that’s striking about “Gravity,” “Interstellar,” and now “The Martian” is that each of the three big space movies to debut in the last three years involves astronauts who are eager, even desperate to get home.

I liked that.

Home is where we belong.

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  1. The cosmos indeed holds great opportunity. Calling fictional dreams of space travel a "distraction" is sycophantic. This movie is speculative fiction today, but within my lifetime there will be a manned mission to Mars. I feel sad that you so dislike technology you can't enjoy the human endeavor of discovery.

    1. for me it is the idea that human life on Earth is hopelessly impossible in the coming era (the "X-Earth Era"?). What I like about the Martian was Damon's determination to survive and his use of basic science (not rocket science) to figure out what he need to do to survive, to prioritize his efforts according to some rationale analysis of resources and options. Using his own shit to fertilize totally inorganic Mars dirt to grow crops was an outstanding example of an ingenious solution that was not "rocket science."

      What I find disturbing now is the willingness of smart people (including Steven Hawkings) to give up on the prospect of our species waking up in time to not destroy the planet's ability to support human life.

      If we devoted the kind of efforts of NASA to go to Mars to the effort of figuring out how to implement the necessary measures to keep Earth habitable, at least for a while. I for one, do not assume Homo sapiens will be here forever, but we have a choice about making it livable for a longer time than now appears probably.. Please see James Hansen's book, Storms of My Grandchildren. tipping points, like stock market crashes, are not easily or confidently predictable using the best available science.

      I work on constructing an approach to sustainability based on the best available science - seriously underfunded science.

      NASA is good, science is good, new knowledge that helps us understand ourselves and our habitat from a new and different perspective is valuable - but its value is not measurable with scientific or economic (so-called social science) methods.


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