Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Running Away or Peeking into a Fresh Perspective?

Yes, there are days when I simply want to run away to… someplace where people are empathetic and loving to one another and the air is clean and all the children have good teeth. (Okay, I got the “good teeth” part from an old TV series.) There is no such place, of course, because people are by definition human. Mostly, that means they’re in process. Now and then, as we have recently witnessed here in the USA, it means something disgusting can happen.

Not long ago, I watched the film ARRIVAL with Amy Adams. The screenplay is based on “Story of Your Life,” a sci-fi short tale by Ted Chiang. I loved the film for including even more references to cutting edge science than Chiang had tossed out. I don’t like to write reviews, but I do love stories that take my mind somewhere new and give it meals of fresh perspectives on humans. The film remains largely faithful to the story—with a different political moral thrown in. Aliens arrive in cool spaceships. Scientists worldwide struggle to communicate with them to find out what their purpose is. The story floats in time—which is a big hint about where it’s going.

Without being dreary enough to reveal the essence of the film, I can say I wanted to spend more time with the aliens. (I had the same reaction to Hogwarts, by the way. I embrace novelty.) In another story, Chiang muses on the incongruity of the effort humans expend trying to communicate with aliens (the thrust of the film) while never trying to learn from the sentient beings that live around us—mostly in zoos or stockyards. I like the way Chiang’s mind works. He avoids the pat answers in which we box ourselves and lets himself observe the world we generally take for granted.

ARRIVAL (echoing the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) suggests that we humans are shaped in part by our languages—sentences that often run in a line forward or backward or up and down and contain rules for what words DO when they’re placed in different places (tell us who is doing what with what, for example.) The mechanics of a particular language reveal a great deal about the people who speak that language. English encourages thinking in a line and believing that every question has CORRECT answers—most of which we already know or the question couldn’t have been too important.

I’m allergic to the closed-ness I sometimes feel around me—closed minds, closed logic, closed doors. I wish for aliens or whoever might be willing to play in reality—avoiding ego or tradition. I want to believe humans will finally be open to learning from one another without judgment of who is better. (Some humans are doing that already—but not enough.) I want us to use our interdependence to flourish and enjoy art and music and one another and great healthy food—in clean air, using good teeth. I don’t apologize for being an idealist.

One comment on “Running Away or Peeking into a Fresh Perspective?

  1. Chelo Diaz-Ludden
    August 21, 2017

    The movie sounds interesting. I’m adding it to my nexflix list. Thanks.

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