Philosophizing beyond Interstellar


*Spoiler Alert*

(Preferably read after watching the movie)

A hot and dusty bowl of corn-begetting famers (corn is all that is left in this world of fires and intense cough-inducing dust-laced storms. Okra, wheat…it’s all replaced by the sickly American corn. A safe bet, dying a slow and steady death)- the last generation of humans that our world could sustain after six billion (its seven billion really!) people all wanted the same thing and refused to listen to the bugle of Nature, are on their road to a miserable end.

Adapt! That’s all we can do in the face of the things that can happen. 

In his Southern drawl, Cooper embodies one of mankind’s last explorers- a lost farmer who was supposed to be on NASA missions but failed. He is, quite simply, one of the few remaining people who remember where humans came from. Rising from pools of organic matter coming together in a marriage and giving rise to life which reached out for the stars. Only to give up?

Interstellar raises intense questions about life and the future of earth. We’re on a warpath. It can get as bad as the dystopia that tears through the first minutes of Interstellar, when you feel yourself choking in an AC movie hall with the imagined dust particles filling up your lungs and the heat searing through your skin.

We think of answers that space will bring us. A universe full of planets to explore, some of them with the ability to sustain life the same way that earth does. A barren landscape where we drop a hoard of fertilized human eggs and hope they will grow out of the nothingness. But what will the eat? Where are the genetically modified grain seeds (and is corn the only thing we can bring up?)? Are they expected to raise themselves on their own or with the help of four scientists manning a thousand babies? Don’t they know that diapers and Cerelac isn’t easy, least of all on a harsh alien planet?

What we discount is the human factor. It’s always there, just like Dr. Mann’s slowly crazed, absolutely dingo character proves to us. The crazy bastard with the same objectives as everyone else who is laying his eyes on the first human faces in decades will rather trade his new-found companionship for the lonely vacancy of a spacecraft which he cannot even maneuver well-enough to know the difference between docked and un-docked depressurization.

What I am trying to say is simply this- unguided, unprincipled and catastrophically prone to self-destruction, humans let emotions control them. And emotions have no rationale. Even Amelia Brand concedes that the power of love is a force so overcoming that she would choose to follow it over the odds of scientific probabilities. As it turned out however, following her gut might have been a better idea but a shorter cut-through for the movie. And there would be no ghost, which means there would be no Plan A. So TARS is right in keeping his honesty to 90% with sentient beings. The gist is: our calculations, our science itself will fail because we are broken down by our subjective interpretations, the movies playing inside our heads. The only ways we perceive reality is through a shadow of smoke, a soundtrack underlining every experience. And this is the only way for the universe to be observed. Which means the only way we can participate in anything is through the broken lens of our  mind. Which is one of the least reliable source of information out there.

Perhaps as a team we can have breakthroughs. But the single-handed onus of propagating humanity falls into the hands of the few in power, the few with the means to influence the rest. And the moment that happens, we are governed by experience and evolution alone. We cannot know if we will make it out of this mess alive and for how long.

If we are our own creators, destroyers and saviors, that means we are our own Gods. Perhaps the hastily put together manuscript they call the Bible has some truth to it. Time travel is a favourite science fiction game to play and coming back to resurrect your own self is a twisted retelling of God descending through Jesus to get resurrected. The ultimate survival of the human species can come down to two alphabets (A and B) someday. It would be quite something to see a fable come to life in that manner. In the movie, Cooper becomes his daughter’s doom as well as the reason for the success of Noah’s Ark- the safe swimming upwards of whatever is left of humanity on a dying planet. He is an oddly illogical ghost but like I concluded above- his actions are dictated, at least partly by emotions and that is what makes it so hard for human beings to find a way out. We value ourselves. Even the most selfless of us can only endure so much of one thing before we snap.

With the loop within the loop, Cooper is guided by the odd hands of creatures beyond our imagination who are actually us, way into the future. Through the entangled spaces of a continuum where time is as linear as our coordinates, the practicality of saving your own selves from the future becomes distorted. How can you do that and why would you even need to do that at all?

Icy cold worlds, desert landscapes and oceanic waves- the planets that await us can be alive with the most fascinating and the cruelest truths. As explorers far, far from solving any of the mysteries of the world, we can only imagine and enact role-playing theatrics to keep our heads down and humbled in the face of the vast expanse of a universe where the only help we can expect would be from someone better placed to guide but still NOT God.

Whatever question-answer chase will make these things quantifiable to us, one thing is for certain. Humanity as a species will not go gentle into the good night.

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