September 21, 2012
Mike, what a delight to see you writing on this. I enjoyed the pilot, though honestly felt the same as you about the pacing, which I thought was far stronger in Abram's last, cancelled, series Alcatraz. What fascinates me about the anachronism you point out in electrical failure leading to pre-industrial apocalypse, is that it actually overstates the premise of electricity's failure. It overstates, bluntly, the human dependence on specific systems, neglecting the historical truth that large-scale political and social entities have persisted in history despite a total absence of electrical power. So the series has the usual Zeitgeist of political cynicism nestled into it, precluded by actual historical record, which suggests that if our systems fail "all hell breaks loose" and we devolve into strong-man city states in which "might makes right." No doubt electrical failure would be a catastrophe, but in overstating its failure I think this series plays its apocalyptic cards too pessimistically, and so demeans the history of human political and social ingenuity.
Next up will you over Falling Skies?
Thank you, Rob. The distinction between modern technology and modern "systems" was brought home to me by Charles C. Mann's 1493, which notes that we had a more-or-less fully globalized economy within 100 years of Columbus landing in the Americas, powered by sail, horse, and musket. The overstatement of our reliance on electricity reminds me of some other sci-fi films (like Bruce Willis' Surrogates) that assume that everyone everywhere lives like an upper middle-class New Yorker, and technological changes would affect them all in the same ways. I hope the show takes more time to explore the technological changes.
Also, Mike, I think a communitarian would take issue with the premise of all these apocalyptic plots and their anthropological insights. Could it not be said, after all, that our work, our families, our relationships, our systems and how we sustain and organize them is *part* of what justifiably defines us. To strip us of them is not as though to enter some apocalyptic veil of ignorance and finally discover our true identity, it is to destroy and remake us. Removing our social trapping may not finally show us who we "really" are, but fundamentally change us. Would you agree there is some atomism and individualism latent in the so-called "human" revelations of these apocalyptic stories?
Mike, you wrote, "Ideally, once my imagination is engaged, the rest of my body and mind will follow, helping me be a better steward of Godâ€™s world and a better neighbor to Godâ€™s people."
I heartily agree. Think about the parables that Jesus tells or the words/living examples of the prophets. These stories and teachings are vivid invitations to change, and the same is true of apocalyptic/post apocalyptic works of fiction. Each uses our imagination to get at our hearts.
I'm drawn to such stories because of the social commentary they offer about the present state of humanity. More than predictions of what's to come, they offer challenges and insight into human nature and underscore the choices we have about how we will live. "Blindness" by Jose Saramago comes to mind... (now also a major motion picture.)
I am also a fan of post-apocalytic stories. I like what PastorChelsey said about human nature. Stories in which the trappings and props are stripped away and social expectations cease to apply reveal the truth that "wherever you go, there you are." Most of these stories involve overcoming personal barriers that are often far larger obstacles to the journey required than those created by the apocalypse itself.
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