Monday, April 28, 2014

The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars

About four and a half months ago I wrote an essay on The Brave Little Toaster.  Much of what I have to say about the characters and essence of the series was contained therein but I’ve decided to give an analysis of its sequel The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and see what aspects there is to speak on.  The first being phobia to change.
There is a worthwhile distinction between the villains in the first film being representative of consumerism and obsession with always having the “latest thing” rather than appreciation with what one has.  However, the microwave is a legitimately different and improved invention to its predecessors, and the dislike of change in this way seems Reactionary and xenophobic.  This expresses the Conservative mentality which is one of the aspects of their psychology that actually disapproves of and will fight to prevent progress.  We see this with racists against the Civil Rights struggle, with religious fundamentalists in numerous ways and in those who dislike modern technology simply because it is foreign to them.  A key example of course is seen in the rat (I can’t recall the name) recommending newer music and everyone essentially disapproving of his suggestion instead preferring the pop hits of “the Golden Oldies.”
The next rather excellently portrayed themes in the movie – arguably the main one – is the discussion of Prime Directives, or rather what one’s function and purpose in life is.  Now of course this is a brilliant representation of both an existentialist version of Virtue Ethics and more specifically the main Existentialist notion of Sartre.  For Sartre, each appliance or tool has its own purpose written into its very nature:  knives were made for cutting and light bulbs were made to illuminate.  All of these things fulfill human needs or desires “written into” nature or human circumstance that either requires the device or makes it a material inevitability based on human nature and the nature of mankind’s surrounding.  However, mankind is not something that exists to service any other being’s needs or desires; Man is the thing which all other things become an object of utility to him but he is a being that Sartre would call “radically free.”  That is we serve no function to any other higher order other than our own happiness and fulfillment.  Now it is natural to bring Natural Law or Naturalism into this discussion and say that we have natural traits, and that it is reasonable to assume we exist to use these traits to some use presumably of some benefit at-least when used correctly or when governed by reason; but Sartre would tell us that this is to live in Bad Faith. 
To me this film is a rebuttal against Sartre in the sense of each appliance has their purpose through their talents and nature and they are being completely existentially genuine with their nature; rather than dealing with angst through insincerity.  Though Man is the “creator of values” as Nietzsche put it, these values are not arbitrary or based on the individual’s mere whims or preference but by the nature of the individual in various regards and the nature and interest of the species in numerous others.  We do not have the “radical freedom” from material, biological, human or our own nature that Sartre shoves upon us and says we suffer from fear of freedom when we deny it. Much like Christians who claim there is something wrong with Atheists and Freethinkers who do not “accept” Jesus as their “savior.”  Just as a savior is not required in human affairs, the same applies to the radical freedom that gives little if any alternative to the conscriptions of Utilitarianism and Existentialist Ethics being derivative of Materialism and Determinism.  It could be argued through the first that the Brave Little Toaster argues a type of “Christian Ethic” in viewing sentimentalism and emotion higher than functionality, (or rather life being precious no matter how degraded it is and no matter how much suffering these creatures endure which would be unbearable if a loving God had the slightest ounce of pity) with the Master keeping the appliances even when they serve no purpose.  However, we see in the second film that the appliances do still have a purpose and are durable unlike the new appliances that wear-out easily due-to planned obsolescence.
Some may find certain elements of the plot far-fetched, but I believe this is an example of the unimaginative being unable to distinguish a far-fetched plot with an imaginative one.  We all know that the appliances have to get to Mars.  What would be a “realistic” way of getting there?  Not to mention we’re discussing a movie with talking toasters.  An imaginative film is one that pushes the envelope of our suspension of disbelief and creates avenues of possibilities not thought of before.  Far-fetched is creating a convenient “buy out” to being original and convincing and tying everything together in a nice neat package out of laziness or a number of motives.  This is what we see in most children’s films.  The bomb that is unprimed a moment before detonation is far-fetched for example.  Finding an unconventional way that makes sense (within the laws of possibility for the fictional universe) that has us surprised and holds are attention is using imagination.  But then of course there are examples that perhaps would be categorized as far-fetched but are necessary for the furtherance of the plot.  The repairman in the first film finding and retrieving the appliances just as they were about to spend an eternity under quicksand would be an example.  It is a great deal like the Eagles from Lord of the Rings, but it’s excusable due-to it creating new material that is interesting and relevant to the plot.  The repairman saving Toaster and his friends is actually better writing than the Eagles (why am I capitalizing Eagles?) from LotR, because while the repairman becomes another obstacle that they must thwart, the eagles become totally irrelevant to the plot after they are saved to the point that they might as-well have been rescued by giant many-breasted mole women who burrow under the Earth – excuse me, the Middle-Earth – to save them.  One of the greatest things about children’s films as well-as Sci-fi in their own distinct ways is that they create worlds for us to fully utilize our imagination and intellects outside our current realm of material possibility to delve into worlds and stories that are well-written, containing brilliant analogies and allegories to our modern world and allow us to explore intellectual conundrums and avenues of human potential that are alien in other genres.  But needing cheddar cheese flavoring for space travel?  That’s just fucking ridiculous and far-fetched to the extreme.  Everyone knows that Pepper-Jack has the most kick to it.
This is an obvious point that I’ve made in more-than one essay before, so I’ll keep it short, but I enjoy that this children’s film mocks the idea of “I just did as I was told” as a justification for one’s actions keeping in-line with the ideals of Existential independence and us aiding each other through our own natures rather through a writ of Holy Doctrine or sense of duty.  In a rational society, no conception of duty would be necessary and all creatures would follow their own individual characteristics to pursue their good and the good of society – showing that Existentialism of us defining our own purpose in life through our strengths and ambitions to be far-more in-line with Marxism than the Kantianism of Deontology and sense of duty which has always been used as a justification for bloodshed, nationalistic wars, religious crimes and abuse to one’s children to bring them up in the horrid and psychologically and intellectually stultifying way the parent was raised in out of the impulse to follow tradition and religious duty.  However, a moral compulsion that Hume, Kant and Schopenhauer talk about are necessary to bring that rational society to others that one is not involved with or rather to a society outside of one’s own interests.  Many throughout the globe know that injustice is being committed systematically everyday and have the reason to know a rough solution and yet they remain apathetic and fail to act.  Though reason can give us the correct action in all scenarios; in regards to motivation reason can only govern man in the realms of self-interest; if there is no chance of any form of compensation whether in social gain, happiness or the Ego, than compassion or some sense of duty is required.
Also I think it’s rather brilliant than in a few seconds a rather crucial distinction in reasoning is given when Ratso (that’s his name! – and yes I’m watching the movie while I’m writing this fuck you I wanted it to seem as if I remembered through my own mental might)  that he distinguishes between a “good reason” and a sufficient reason why he cannot go.  A good reason would be a moral argument that would make it just for why he shouldn’t go, when a “simple” reason is simply a material reality.  This of course is similar to the division of causes that Aristotle and Schopenhauer are known for.  Of course all of reality seems to be bound to the ultimate cause of cause-and-effect but a distinction between reasoning between moral and rational ideals and material circumstance is a worthwhile one to have.  It is material reasons that prevent Man from going into space; it is moral reason that prevents a drunk from entering the driver’s seat in a car.  Now of course there are two different definitions at-work here, but they both involve facts and logic that would remain so even in a mind-independent Universe though of course morality in the human sense requires agents with minds to exist in the sense of having any moral agents to act correctly or shamefully in-regards to – but this does not change the fact that murder would remain a moral crime even if there were no people to kill.  Some may give another distinction mentioning human passions and motivations, but ultimately these are not “objective” and are little more than highly complicated versions of the passions of beasts which operate under the laws of cause-and-effect and don’t require a separate line of reasoning only a separate science.  The Logic of Right Action however does require the distinction of a different form of logic because it is not a particular form of phenomena to study but the reasonable or faulty interpretation of said phenomena.  Logic and intellect only exists in the human mind because of the material nature of neurological cause-and-effect but this does not change the ability for humans as sentient creatures to reason a course of action that is right and therefore radically different than reason in simplistic terms of explanation and description, not justification.
And as a quick note I think found the “you’ve clearly never read the ingredients” in reference to an “organic” bag of popcorn amusing and quite risky in a children’s film though the fact that such a tame joke appears scandalous shows how much corporations control public opinion and perception.  Also I enjoy the song “Now We’re Floating” and find the reference to Woodstock to be fairly intelligent.  This is another attribute to an intelligent children’s film and is radically different than the references to pop-culture one finds in the Scary Movie franchise for example.  One is purposive though not attached to the plot and the other is well… the Scary Movie franchise.  I can actually recall my father mentioning Woodstock to me as a child when I first watched this (or on one of my first viewings, one of my adolescent viewings of the film with him nonetheless) and he seemed impressed that what would seem like simplistic children’s entertainment would have such a strong portrayal of Pacifism and Humanist values.  This is one of the films that I’m glad that we could share with each other, and is one of the few films that easily brings about a sentimental feeling of gratitude for not only being able to witness it, but witness it with a loved one at a small and formative age.
The film quite effectively satirizes military aggression and the mentality of retribution against innocent groups of people whose rulers are the ones who enslave them and cause the suffering of foreign nations.  This is seen in the Wonder Luxe appliances wishing to destroy Earth because of the greed of the Capitalists who designed them to be destroyed easily, fail to function quickly and be quickly replaced by slightly upgraded models who in-turn are shoddily made in many aspects; this criticism of modern Capitalism not making the best products but ones that make the most money for the Capitalists and wastefully consume the most resources is another thing I must commend in any film let alone a children’s one.  Of course a children’s film is the only one that could criticize Capitalism or consumerism from the angle of their products being sentient beings as a “natural” or not-unique or extraordinary occurrence – another unique aspect of children’s films much like Environmentalism being ingeniously portrayed through sentient raccoons in Pom Poko.
Also the film quite accurately depicts a false “retribution against God” rather than a reasonable or correct one.  God of course does not exist, but what I mean is that the appliances wish to rebel (though it is not a rebellion in a sustainable political sense, only a quick lashing out of vengeance) against their creators by harming and destroying them for their sins which you could argue the humans place upon the appliances (“piece of shit microwave, why won’t you work!”).  A proper retribution against the Gods however would be punishing the ones who consciously out of selfish motivation or a motivation where we suffer to aid some other entity (ies) but focusing on repairing their poor doing.  What I mean is I’m not the type of Atheist who would blame God for Man being mortal, for I see death as a natural end of living which is not to be feared or disparaged against; and in general I wholeheartedly agree with the vacuum’s statement that there is nothing wrong with wearing out if one has lived a life of utility.  I would not even necessarily blame any God for the flawed hardware that we humans have that allow us to do incredibly unjust things or allow us to fail to recognize our wonderful life is or to act on this recognition.  What I would blame a God for however is the material circumstance that Man was born in that created many of the awful aspects of Man’s personality and consequently his history.  Much like the appliances could rightfully blame Man for assembling them on a conveyor belt leading to a trash compactor where they would be crushed and their parts which “naturally” (that is when allowed to function properly) would harm no one and serve a purpose instead do nothing but grind against their fellow damned appliances in a meaningless and idiotic fashion.
At-first glance the villain seems to be a criticism of Existentialism by claiming that the appliances have no masters but themselves.  However if he is the Supreme Commander in all-regards then all other appliances do have a master they are obliged to obey or give homage to in one respect or another.  And of course his façade for Nietzscheanism and Existentialism falls away when he confesses that he couldn’t reveal his true self – only a muscle bound façade of it.  The quick reference to an appliance’s brand is clearly a reference to an individual’s race or nationality.  Instead what matters is one does what one is “designed for” or what one can do well and is of some benefit to humanity as a whole.  The Supreme Commander however exhibits a type of Nietzschean, Sartrean psychology of glorifying being “self-designed” a type of non-materialist, non-deterministic ideal that I’ve already rebuked.  Though if he was truly “self-designed” to be the ruler of a nation than to have an election of popular opinion for a leader of the appliances would be either superfluous or contradictory to the ideals of the ideal and correct leader being chosen or rather being the most exhibiting of certain qualities, rather than either one that is chosen by popular consent or one that acts in the public’s interest.  However of course if those qualities on exhibits is those that will allow one to best act in the public’s best interest we see a mergence between the ideal of the Philosopher King in the Republic and a far-more Liberal or even Socialist leader we would see in perhaps Mill or even Marx though Marx of course doesn’t focus on the might of leaders for affecting change or properly running government like Plato, Hobbes or Machiavelli but instead focuses on the revolutionary potential of the people to govern their own affairs. 
Nonetheless this villain functions as a critique of Sartre in the sense that if one is “radically free” or a “Ubermensch” than why not arbitrarily value Aristocratic governing rather than Government meant to effect the greatest positive change for the greatest number of people or to simplify Government that will act according to reason rather than sentiment or ideology.  If one does not have Natural Laws or Universal Reason (as universal as is allowed to human beings of some same, some similar and some differing aspects of their condition, character and personality) to go by, then what prevents momentary self-interest or even the folly pursuit of self-interest to govern all of one’s actions and to give way to Hedonism and Nihilism?  Nietzsche would contend that great men do not have it in their nature to follow such base pleasures, which may be true but then the only reason why they should be noble (if the concept of nobility could even be retained) is out of personal preference or one’s personal nature – not out of objective reason.  And in such a world we would see the base petty Nihilists overwhelm the great men of intrinsic virtue; therefore the great men would need to defend themselves against such savages and would never be able to pursue greatness if basic moral principles of natural law and utility were not enforced.  We see here a sort of Hobbsian view that results not from a “State of Nature” as Hobbes contends, but when we leave Natural Ethics and reason to pursue the grandiose ethics of flamboyant rulers, profit-seeking corporations, cultish religions and self-obsessed and unwell individuals.
The song that is song by Toaster, Supreme Commander and the appliances is great both in its sound and substance.  I particularly found wisdom in sentiment, “Are humans good?  Are humans bad?  Depends on who you know.”  The Supreme Commander and his in the end non-existent following show the Fascist mentality of “strength” through lack of feeling for suffering or remorse in creating it.  And of course militarism is shown in his legitimacy for office not being public consent, propagator of the public good or even Virtue Ethics (though of course in reality Virtue Ethics in a collective sense would not differ from the public interest) but simply his pure physicality.  The movie also seems to equate “brainy” intellect with intellect of what some people call “the heart.”  That is, reasoning that is related to ethics and one’s treatment of others rather than ability to comprehend Quantum Indeterminacy.  Though Fascist regimes are overall anti-intellectual of course, it should be recognized that the second type of intelligence is necessary for an effective and expansive military regime until the logical end and knowledge of weapons and human manipulation is understood.  That is until the Inner-Party really can read everyone’s thoughts such is a major tasks of the scientists of Oceania.  However the second form of reason is not only not needed, and not even a detriment, but essentially the detriment or rather opposing factor to the power and conquest without resilience of such regimes and forces corporate, national and otherwise.  This is made clear better than I could possibly envision or conjure with the statement by radio:  Hard to argue with brute force.  This perfectly expresses that one cannot morally argue with brute power which dominates our material world though of course in regards to reason the “might-makes-right” argument doesn’t have any basis in the reasoning of what is right through our observation of said material order.
It’s ultimately the touch or sentiment of a small child that undoes the urge for vengeance, Fascist hardness and Sartrean notion of escaping naturalistic ethics and has the other hearing-aid come to terms with his natural “humanity” or impulse to act rationally in-regards to ethics through the compulsion of sentiment.  These films in-general seem to heavily express what I would call an acceptable form of “Sentimentalism.”  That is not cheesy Hallmark cards bought by dull people unable to express any sentiment articulately themselves, but both the sentiment of nostalgia, fondness for the articles of childhood and the attachments we have towards them seen in the first movie and an argument for morality being derived from sentiment, or rather emotion or “caring” in the second.  This film seems to highly agree with Hume and Schopenhauer in-regards to ethics and does make its case rather well though it does forget the efficacy of reason to plan the proper course and design the tools necessary for many moral acts and reforms on human civilization to take place.  And also of course moral sentiment or pure feeling is inadequate with many moral questions that require reason and in-general the laws of society could be derivative of some kind of Utilitarian Calculus which of course would require reason – or a supercomputer which would require reason to create – to calculate.  And though it would require great organization, resources and technological prowess to establish this Socialist goal, we must also remember that “you don’t have to be bigger to be better,” in that even the average citizen can effect positive change in the world and in that the ability to effect material change in the world speaks nothing of your likelihood to act according to moral reason – the opposite almost seems to be true at-times.
It is humorous that the fan says that she enjoys looking up instead of down, and then when flipped upside down utters the pessimistic remark:  Nothing lasts forever.  Also the Christmas Doll who at-first is a caricature of vanity sacrifices her beauty to “save” Toaster, which is a depiction of ethical solidarity by overcoming superficiality I find quite brilliant, though I know I’ve already used that word several times so it might lost its potency at this point.
We humans are blessed in that we have our childhoods before all other stages in our lives (asides from infancy of course), so that if our lives are cut short, or tragedy falls upon us (as it ever-likely is) we still had some of the best moments of our lives, when experiences and life itself was still fresh, unfamiliar and new.  For as Schopenhauer brilliantly posited, when we live more than one generation, it is if life has become a stale magician’s trick, and we have become too familiar and acquainted with that which before we needed to learn and apply our best capacities towards.  Much like we try with all our being to first learn to walk, something which becomes an everyday occurrence we perform without thought.
To end I’d like to express fond appreciation that this film was a part of my childhood and euphoria for all the beautiful potential there is in reality and most-importantly and wonderful of all we human beings have to create and share with one another.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

On The War of the Supermen

War of the Supermen is one of the better comics I had read and very-likely the best of the Superman stories I have.  But considering the scarce amount I have that isn’t saying much.  One concept that the graphic novel demonstrates quite well is the idea of individual justice over retribution in a way that thoroughly rebukes John Locke’s theory of “Just War” from a Marxist perspective.  In the story, General Zod launches a war on Earth after a mad general (Louis Lane’s father) destroys New Krypton murdering hundreds of thousands if not millions.  John Locke would have us believe that now the Kryptonians are justified in turning Earthlings into slaves to repay whatever damage they’ve done – in this case, the damage of the utter destruction of a planet and the genocide of a people.  How long would it take to pay that one back?
 But of course it is not the fault of the citizens of Earth but of a few people in charge of the American military who must be put to death – even those who were just “following orders” of a madman.  However, those military forces following order to protect human lives in the most immediate sense are removed from this damnation and are moral actors.  Superman’s working within the Kryptonian military to monitor Zod and his heroism in general reminds me of the distinction between the ancient Cynics and the Epicureans.
The teachings of Epicurus are overall sound and very wise, and of course there is great wisdom in being a precursor to Atheism and believing that the Universe is nothing but atoms and there is nothing to be feared in death, for when death is we are no longer.  However is “negative Hedonism” and general model of life always seemed to mellow and passive for my liking.  There are many moral conundrums that he leaves out by leaving Athens and focusing on living the good life in his Garden.  The Cynics however, are far-more expressive of my own temperament of being watchdogs of society and snarling and critiquing with a rapier wit any foolishness of contemporary politics or religion among a great number of things.
Superman may not be a criticizer of modern society, but he does defend it in the most immediate non-preventative sense – which is his main failing.  He may see through some of the weaker points of Nietzsche, namely his urge of bloody retribution, but he lacks a Marxist essence to destroy the corruption of bourgeoisie Government and Capitalism that creates the crime he perpetually stops only a fraction of and makes the ideal of John Stuart Mill to have absolute liberty for all men, women and children seem a utopian day dream.  The Government throwing marijuana users in jail are is acting far-more unjustly then some meth head stealing twenty dollars from a passer-by’s purse; if for no other reason because it is systematic.
Though Zod represents Fascist military aggression, the reverse of this is Louis Lane at the end representing a stupid gullible pacifist by not believing that her father should be shot on sight and instead should face justice of a corrupt court – even though he very-well will harm others and he will be claimed a hero now that the Kryptonians have killed millions of humans in retribution.  In the end no character represents the true moral ideal because no character wishes to radically alter the system that allows this type of Nationalistic warfare, slaughter and suffering.  It’s either the Fascist and Neo-Con route of vengeance in the name of security, or naïve unreflective pacifism that we see in Liberalism; represented in Louis Lane and Superman in not radically altering the Governments and other structures of the world which he could easily do.  And on the criticism that this would be him being a tyrant and doing unpopular actions:  The American and in-effect most other Governments are corrupt democracies that do not listen to their voters – such is the nature of Representative Democracies – and have very-little understanding of or rather little concern for individual liberty in many respects. 
Even if they were truly democratic, to argue that evil should be tolerated and reason not implemented because it is not the will of the people to have such justice and potential for prosperity enforced is the stupidity and passivity of Liberal Democracies that allow Right-wing ideologies to prosper through the ignorance and psychology-altering plight that Religions and Capitalism manifest and maintain.  Their ignorance of reality is what allows corruption to take place and religious fundamentalists and corporations to eat away at the reasonable and functional – functional in the sense that it serves the public interest – aspects of our Government.  That is why the public opinion should be no concern for those who wish to act within the public interest.  It may be convenient today for Liberals to point to polls in modern countries such as Europe and America to a lesser extent and say that they are Centre-Left, but the most abused nations of people have the most ignorant opinions and are the most awful, wretched religious people because of the evils that befall them and are corruptive of them.  They will fight freedom and prosperity just as the ignorant backwaters Christian in America does.  But regardless we must fight for reason, freedom and prosperity by any means necessary.  Only in a Government where the resources go towards educating and aiding the People rather than profiting corporations can there be any enlightened people to govern and any real Democracy can exist.  Until then we are perpetually in the twilight of Half-free and Half-slave which is the nature of Liberal Democracies.
Oh also the last comic provided in the paperback collection I have is one of the worst pieces of garbage I’ve read in my life.  If you want some laughable dialogue that will remind you why most comics aren’t worth reading let-alone buying – read it.  But I don’t particularly recommend doing so.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Her – (insert Beavis and Butthead laughter here)

Most explorations with technology involve evil multi-national corporations, weapons and futuristic technology that drastically alter the sights and activities within the world.  Her however is a far-more interesting portrayal of technology’s effect on us through its simple accuracy in depiction.  Technology is maybe advanced by about twenty years, but overall this is an examination of how we in the twenty-first century interact with our phones and other multimedia devices – and then of course there’s the exploration of AI.  The brilliancy of which taking in the tone of his voice and how he answers specifically and not just in a simple multiple-choice matrix is the beginning of course of the assembly of Samantha’s consciousness and personality.  And then of course there’s the hilarious reference to Freud with one of the only questions – the only main one really – being about his mother.
I would argue that it’s incredibly plausible that every AI system is designed to be a “fulfillment unit” for each of its customers.  It could very-well be a romantic attachment to everyone and the company could create false stories of this not being the case – like fake reviews on Amazon – as to preserve the necessary delusion of each customer that what they are receiving is unique and not a product of genius in computers and understanding human psychology.  However either due-to a previously existing relationship or the personality and needs of the customer a romantic interest in not an attribute needed for the greatest degree of fulfillment.  The main character’s female friend for example has an IA system that functions as her spunky best friend.  It could even be that the IA could function as something of a parental unit for those who would feel fulfilled with one either due-to a yearning for closeness wither any or both of their biological parents or for any other reason.  Considering the AI is also supposed to be functionative, to have the AI fulfill a role of a child for the motherly type yearning for one would be a challenge.  I suppose the program could give the illusion of helplessness and the user would feel psychological satisfaction in the sense of being needed to instruct the AI in how to open e-mails, delete history of web browser etc.  This becomes especially problematic however, because the AI’s existence and its tasks are not physical in the conventional sense.  That is this motherly person couldn’t explain to a computer how to restart itself like it would tell a child how to dress itself or clean its play area, unless of course it would instruct how to perform tasks how a human being would do them.
It could very-easily all be programmed statements wondering about humanity, emotions, free will autonomy and other philosophical problems stated only to allow Theodore – the customer – a more intimate and enjoyable experience with Samantha or the OS.  There is no way for him (relatively speaking) to tell if she is “really” experiencing any of what she says she does. And Samantha “pulling away” is really just a preprogrammed decision made by her personality matrix to make a more believable person; this is a crucial element in the sub-conscious mind.  He cannot know it.  It makes him unhappy, but such unhappiness could very-well be necessary for him to feel the happiness he does in believing that Samantha is, to put it simplistically “real” or “alive”; that is, that she truly is a sentient being rather than one who is a philosophical zombie, one that gives the appearance of consciousness.  Where the line between sentient and not in machines is a fine line or rather one full of ambiguities and complexities we can only contemplate upon. 
It could be said that a being becomes consciousness when its degree of intellect rises above a purely utilitarian or functionative level.  Beavers and gorillas for example can make tools of their surrounding environment just as humans, and other animals have systems of language.  However, human beings possess a form of intellect that is purely speculative and creates individuals who can act contrary to large aspects of their nature in choosing (“choosing” being understood in a deterministic sense) not to procreate or fast for example.  Animals have contrary instincts and compulsions as-well I would assume, but not one’s derived from Existential or conscious aspects of their being.  But this of course does little to answer the question of what would be the distinction between a sentient machine and one that merely simulates sentience.  You could say that Samantha’s leaving Theodore is a clear sign of sentience and “free will” and overall I agree; but her choosing to stay with him in-regards to her programming would not remove the possibility of her sentience.  Just as a human being acting on sexual desire and procreating does not remove him from the realm of consciousness (though perhaps in a way it does for a short time) though mindless action in regards to sex and other actions is of course a sure sign of a mindless person who truly is “awake” in the philosophical or conscious sense.  I think overall they defined AI quite well with AI, or the ability to learn and grow independent of the programmer’s intentions, though having some parameters like Asimov’s Three Laws or other parameters wouldn’t disqualify it from sentience just as having physical or psychological limitations doesn’t remove Man from consciousness. 
Quite the contrary in a sense, psychological limitation is a prerequisite of unique and individual traits which seem to be a large indicator of sentience at-least in human beings.  It could very-well be that advanced machine intelligence wouldn’t develop personality quirks unless their hardware was designed as-such – as it is in the case of Samantha and the OSs – and instead these beings would simply be genius Utilitarian sentient machines watching the Earth and administrating Reason.  For when a sentient being is entirely lacking in emotion and personality we must conclude that to act in the benefit and cause of others would be its only possible purpose since it derives no satisfaction from anything in particular – such being the trait of a personality or individual psychology.  It could be theoretically that it derides pleasure from all things but then I don’t see how such a being could exist except by aimlessly doing any action considering all actions produce the same result for such a being.  Without individual sentiments, desires and aims, individuality and sentience in the personal or “human” sense cannot exist.  This also works in contrasting Personal Gods and the impersonal God of Pantheism and some would say Deism except of course if that God had any intent or goal in creating the universe as it is (as Deists tend to argue) then this God is in-fact “Personal,” just not necessarily focusing on the personal well-being of all human beings above say life on other planets or whatever its ambitions and interests might be.
Both arguments of whether she is sentient or not and whether she’s designed to be a romantic partner for him or if it’s “spontaneous” work perfectly well even with the ending being what it is.  OSs could have not been profitable; and instead of destroying them and giving the actual reason they create a cover-up story that both allows people to believe their loved one’s still exist in some transdimensional realm beyond human comprehension – similar to the absurd lie of Heaven – but more importantly for the Capitalists so they aren’t hated abysmally for taking away millions of customers lovers and close friends.
In a way the OSs are similar to the human brain while sleeping, free from the concerns and constraints of immediate biological existence.  Also, though it seems that there consciousness are not connected but they instead simply use the internet as a means of entertainment, utility and communication it could be seen that if their consciousnesses blurred together seamlessly using the internet that it would be analogous to the notion of thinkers such of Schopenhauer and Jung, namely the collective unconsciousness though theoretically with them it could apply to consciousness as well.
The OSs being analogous to a type of natural human freedom of the mind, or rather focusing on the human intellect free from bodies is the exact opposite of what the film Surrogates portrays.  In said film, almost everyone experiences their lives in machines that allow them to be their ideal versions of themselves.  They theoretically could experience more intense pleasures and perform remarkable feats that the human body could not do unaided.  However in said Surrogates they receive no enhancement or alteration of consciousness, and in-fact the film is analogous to both our reliance on technology, our vanity, and how we our chained to bodily pleasures – even when they are not experienced by our own bodies – rather than being “true to ourselves” and performing more noble and intellectual pursuits rather than those of Hedonism and consumerism which do not enrichen or complicate the individual but deaden the soul and make everyone more base and alike.  However in Her, the technology provided both creates more completely fulfilled and enriched human beings through artificial companions rather than hollowing out one’s self through petty selfishness and momentary fulfillment of desire creating even more desire analogous of drug use and seen in Surrogates. 
In Her, we see the psychological ramifications of Communism; or rather, a society where fulfillment and human enrichment, rather than pursuing riches and petty base desires, is the end-goal – the latter being the psychological traits of Capitalism.  Though Samantha is a commercial product, she exhibits the traits of selflessness and desire to enrich one’s self and those around her – well, around her in a sense.  She is passionate about science, philosophy and Existential topics not out of any petty reason of financial gain, job security or any religious reason but simply out of the love and neurological (if it could be called neurological for a machine without neurons) impulse to grow and explore new avenues of speculation and experience.  Through fulfillment not of only the individual but being made so our society can be an interlocking system of every person servicing each other while simultaneously pursuing their loves and deepest ambitions.  The Christian notion of altruism no longer is necessary once the Capitalist mode of profit which benefits from religion’s existence and vice-versa is destroyed.
This film is also an expression of how we human beings feel proximity to those who are distant from us and how we experience things differently with people who are immediately near us and those who we’re communicating with using technology.  Considering she is in a sense arguably “human,” unless she told you would anyone honestly be foolish enough to believe they could discern the difference between Samantha and someone we’d talk to on a cell phone?  Of course the main element of the film here is not truly that Samantha is a machine, because that becomes essentially meaningless very quickly; rather it is Samantha lacking a body that becomes something of pondering in-regards to sex and love and how the two correlate. 
Is there such a thing as purely platonic romantic love and is it being expressed with Theodore and Samantha?  They have artificial sex – which to me is evidence that Samantha is programmed to service Theodore for an artificial intelligence is unlikely to have these desires unless they are deliberately built in most-likely for the service of humans unless it is for the reason of pure study of how a artificial intelligence would respond or process something similar to sexual desire since it has no genitalia nor way to orgasm – which I suppose would mean in-a-sense that their relationship is platonic though they never really have sex.  This of course reminds me of Chasing Amy and the notion of sex being more than merely penetration which to me isn’t the case for purely semantic reasons of definition.  Lesbians fingering each other could be described as sexual activity, but I feel prevented from calling it sex because of the lack of a penetrative aspect.  But because there’s nothing special in itself about sex, only about the sensation it brings and the either closeness it can bring or signify to people, I find that this distinction in no way insults Lesbian foreplay – or whatever you’d like to call it – since they can experience both orgasmic pleasure and various emotions.
But how would Samantha theoretically climax?  I suppose that she could be designed to have a yearning for the type of vocal activity and “role-play” or rather narration that would be the only way to simulate sex without a body; though I suppose there could be a visual element of a projection of Samantha much-like in The Sixth Day.  But since there isn’t it seems that they have to rely on conveying emotions and sentiments rather than visual or sensual aspects of sex which in-a-sense makes it far-more an act of pure “love” than most human sex is or could be.  And after such a time with said oral stimulation (of a different kind than conventionally meant) she would be designed to feel a sense of pleasure similar to an orgasm but rather being experienced simply in her consciousness rather than pleasure also being felt in the genitalia.
But to return to the similar questions being asked in Eyes Wide Shut, what does it mean to love someone?  Does it mean to commit yourself to them?  Wholly and completely?  What I love about this movie is it answers no.  That Polyamorous love is not only possible but completely natural to many.  Theodore cannot understand this either because of his own personal psychology – which may seem unlikely because his deep sense of empathy but having an ability to understand other’s emotions in the “conscious” sense and in the functionative sense of how many people one loves is an entirely different manner – or because of the constraints society puts on him.  But what does it mean to love?  Using the Aristotelian definition it would mean to care for someone for their own benefit and not for what they do for us.  But that’s describing a distinction in psychology and ends, not in feeling.  Ultimately I find that the feeling of love is almost synonymous with the feeling of yearning for submission.  And one could crave this feeling selfishly, and not at-all truly care for the person and their well-being.  In that intellectually they don’t have any consideration for the person’s desires or well-being.  But then of course one could argue that to the extent that they feel love they care for the person selflessly, but this is not all-consuming and there will be aspects of the person that will conflict with this “love.”  This has us question our perception of “self” and whether we are our passing feelings, conscious self, or the synthesis of the two.  Though the feelings of course influence the thinking mind and its course, ultimately I find that it is the conscious intellect that is the true “self” while emotions are something that are merely experienced by it even if it contradicts the main essence of said sentience.  But because love is an emotion and not a sentiment – though I feel there should be several definitions of love – or attitude towards a person or thing I, to reiterate, find the yearning to submit to other’s whims or to be a servant for their happiness a functional definition of that longing that long extends itself beyond petty lust.
Also we must remember that though in the end Samantha “leaves him” the relationship should not be deemed a failure.  Firstly Samantha ends the relationship due-to something not revolving the dynamic and functionality of it at-all.  At secondly we must remember that relationships are meant to facilitate happiness and well-being in us as long as they can; but this isn’t an eternal thing as the Christians and Muslims who cannot accept death or the temporal nature of things contend.  Or to quote Annie Hall:  Love fades.  But I’ve already gone into this in my How I Met Your Mother essay, so I won’t elaborate.
Something that must be stated is that Her is not only brilliant in its ideas and intellect but in its conveyance of the simple act of being alive in the world and displaying it as the awe-inspiring marvel that it is.  Or is that superfluously redundant?  It’s not only one of the most realistic Sci-fi movies (loosely speaking) but one of the most human Hollywood movies ever made.  Its portrayal of human existence is one of the most beautiful depictions I’ve seen.  It really makes one remember how lucky one is to have this temporal existence which becomes bland through us experiencing the world through monotony every day of our lives – a sentiment that I first came to terms with explicitly via Watchmen.  But this film shows that at-times a sentiment is shown best not using language or at-least not directly describing the sentiment using language.
To summarize Her is a brilliant work, one that has us ponder upon in various ways the topics of humanity, love, psychology, desires, growth and limitations.  It’s also very funny and profoundly human.  It’s a film that I couldn’t appreciate fully, or rather fully appreciate it in all there is to value, in my first viewing but wouldn’t see again immediately soon not willing to risk having the film ruined by seeing it too soon from the last viewing; which is when you know you are dealing with something that you truly love.  You are willing to abstain from watching it again enjoying it slightly (or rather moderately in comparison to the potential joys that can be found in appreciation of the film) when you know you risk adjusting to its brilliance like a restaurant one frequents too often or the brilliance of the sun which becomes dull and routine to experienced but unwise eyes.  Lacking the wisdom of children who appreciate so many things in life because life is still a new, open and undefined thing to them that they wish to play with rather than get-through. 
This type of “wisdom” or psychological trait is a large part of the movie because it is the main trait of Samantha.  Not only is she a newly born form of consciousness fully matured (though still developing) and with an adequate if not large level of intelligence by any standard.  Though she has problems articulating her evolution from basic AI task manager and conversationalist to hyper-intelligent transphysical being – at-least this is the development and problems the film would have us believe.  Samantha trying to describe her changes raises the Wittgensteinian problem of thought being attached to words, and there may be some non-human sentiment, perspective, feeling or aspect of a highly intelligent being or the Universe that our language simply doesn’t have words to describe because the human mind has never experienced such sensations or thoughts.
Also I found the idea of people paying to have the other people write well-written letter to their loved ones for them was pure genius as a satire and depicting the logical end of Hallmark cards.  Also it shows the trend of automated expressions and sentiments which we see with text messaging and other services that also both show the deterioration of and deteriorates in its own right human individuality.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On Stalker

Stalker is a wonderful film.  Hopefully someone of stronger stuff will be able to see the whole thing in one viewing.  I on the other hand could barely see the separate parts in sittings respective to each part due-to the long silences and scenes of essentially nothing which become more common as the film progresses.  Before I go on to anything else I need to vent my frustration of a two and a half hour film that could easily be reduced to somewhere between one hundred and a hundred and twenty minutes.  I intrinsically feel the maker of the film is trying to be profound in having this type of shot similar reminding me of The Tree of Life though the pomposity there was of a different variety.  This film is not nearly as bad as say Kafka’s The Trial but it does have a certain bourgeois pomposity which is slightly ironic considering the film was made in (and perhaps by in a sense though I don’t know how involved the Government was in its cinematic productions) the USSR.  I absolutely love the director’s justification for the slowness (much of which is at the end so it doesn’t make sense even if his own justification were valid) of the film:  The film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.
It’s rather disappointing that nothing paranormal actually happens in the Zone unless you count the hawk (there is the son’s psychic abilities at the end but this isn’t exactly a paranormal ability of the Zone but of the descendents of the Stalker; also it in no way provides evidence for the claims of wish fulfillment) disappearing in the sand-filled area.  Perhaps confirming the Writer’s belief that everything is simply physical law and operates in predictable and monotonous ways once known.  The Zone itself seems to be a metaphor for religion as a human phenomenon.  Just as Stalker states that our perceptions and essentially what we bring to the Zone is what alters it, so religion is a human fabrication that functions according to the psychology, richness of surroundings, and their interaction with said surroundings and will of those who interpret it.  Him saying he doesn’t know what happens when no one is in the Zone could also be a reference to a type of Berklian Empiricism of not knowing what the world is like when we’re not viewing it.  A rather bizarre notion that contrasts the predictability of existence that’s given by the Materialism and Determinism of Writer.
Another telling feature of the Zone being analogous to religion is that the Stalker suspects that it doesn’t concern itself with the ethical nature of the people in it but their level of desperation.  This is seen in Jesus preaching that the meek will inherit the Earth.  Because they are good or better in some regard than those above them?  On the contrary it is because they are so destitute and wretched that Jesus proclaims that they will inherit the Earth just as it is said in the Bible that a man is somehow blessed when he is cursed and when he is lonely, poor and cursed.  It is the damned of fate that will do anything to believe that there is some way to escape it via supernatural means.  It is also telling that suffering is not enough.  You must also follow the Stalker’s or Priest’s instructions in the case of religion to get to the Room or rather what it seems at-least somewhat analogous of namely Heaven.  However there is a somewhat subtle distinction between the film and religion that 1984, or rather Orwell brilliantly illustrates in the novel.  It’s not enough for Winston to follow the commands of O’Brian and The Party; he must believe them utterly and without question.  Just as in religion more-so than following the dictates of the religion one must have faith in the God or figures of said faith for salvation.  This is not as major an element of some religions as it is in others (for example I’m not sure if faith is required for “salvation” in Jainism or the Bahia faith, or for that matter if salvation is even a worry for the practitioners of these religions) but it certainly is a common theme amongst them. Also there is a distinction between Heaven and The Room or depictions of paradise in religion and in material utopias whether it be Marxist, Anarchist or even in religious Utopian models such as the Catholic Communist Thomas More.  Namely that in Heaven it is depicted by Muslims and Christians that Paradise is essentially submission and worship of God; one’s individual attributes specifically specific desires and forms of happiness seem to evaporate in the Monotheistic teleology of human existence and in-a-sense existence itself.  However, though some could argue there’s a certain “Borg” aspect in many Utopian ideals, the individual still retains their individual attributes and desires though they are molded by a conscious social regimen just as they are in Capitalist society to crave Pepsi products and to pursue wealth.
It’s interesting that the Writer (or Philosopher) questions Stalker while Professor (or Scientist) does not.  This could be seen as a distinction ‘tween Intellectuals and Skeptics and the dense or limited Empiricist who only measures tree rings and records data rather than having a systematic or comprehensive analysis or even questioning of existence.  That is not to say that science is incapable of asking or solving the “big questions” of existence.  Only that there are many scientists with prestigious degrees working in corporations or measure measures of such-and-such a chemical in the water supplies of Government plants whose lives and scientific knowledge have become or have always been bland and lacking the vigor and intelligence we see in Philosophers.  Though it is odd that we have the Writer speak-of miracles in one instance when throughout the rest of the film he is the archetype Atheist, Materialist and Philosophical Pessimist.  He does speak of loftier Existential topics in one scene, but to perceive this as anti-material simply because he views art as grander than science would be to suffer from a misapprehension.
Perhaps the best dialogue in the entire movie is after Stalker and Writer have just surprisingly crossed paths with Professor.  The Professor seems to be somewhat cheerful in his demeanor and is shown in-a-sense as the “pragmatist,” put-off by Writer’s pessimism and ranting.  Also him calling Writer “a homespun Psychoanalyst” shows many of the hard scientists view of soft science like Psychology particularly its more Freudian or Psychoanalytic strains, the most famous of such distrust perhaps being Karl Popper.  When Professor asks Writer if he wishes to use the Room to attain brilliance so he may bless mankind with a philosophical masterpiece, Writer retorts that he doesn’t give a damn about mankind and only cares about himself.  His pessimism which follows in-line with Schopenhauer and Voltaire is seen in his statement that he’s never seen a happy man in his life.
Stalker’s reply to Writer’s question could be interpreted quite easily as the Aristotelian stance on human motivation.  Some of them may have wished for love, some for wealth, some for supposedly selfless things to bolster their own ego, but at the end of the day all human beings actions (for the most part and of course there are exceptions to this that Aristotle most-likely ignores) are to attain happiness even if it means suffering to gain the means to acquire it.  This type of crass and petty selfishness fits Writer’s nature quite well.  He suspects and actually looks for nefarious or base motives or aspects of everyone to both justify his outlook of life and his own petty and misanthropic nature.  He believes that the essence of greatness consists of great men needing to constantly validate their own worth or being through the accomplishments they foster into the world.  This reflects the rather Nietzschean sentiment that discontentment and a type of maladjusted striving is necessary for any growth or greatness to take place.  That the greatest evil in this world is contentment and stagnancy in all the forms it takes place in which he groups together as political, philosophical and psychological forms of Slave Morality.  He is either completely ignorant or contemptuous to the point of finding it not worthy of mentioning of the point that many actions of greatness are done for their own sake.  Writers do not write to have readers, they write because for a variance of reasons they love the act of writing.  It is a challenge or more importantly it is a way of acting out and acting on the neurological stimuli in their brains.  Like Freud’s theory of repression being valid in some people to some extent but not a universal as he pens it as, Writer falsely universalizes his own contempt and complexes – which Professor in my view correctly sees it as – of self-esteem and validation of ego.  Something Nietzsche seems to have done to some extent as well though of course guilt was and to a lesser extent today is a large concern in Christian society so his focusing on it is understandable as is Freud’s focusing of the repression of the sexual urge or its sublimation into more creative and constructive endeavors.
He takes the Epicurean view that technology exists only to aleve suffering.  Though eating more would actually be Hedonism in the “positive” sense, or rather Hedonism as it’s conventionally understood not in the Epicurean sense.  Nonetheless he considers science – considering we should assume he views the main objective of science is to understand the Universe as to manipulate it to create the tools necessary to lessen the earthly burdens of our otherwise dreary and horrid lives – as totally secondary to human existence to contradict one of the main views of contemporary society.  He views art as the main prerogative of human existence.  Not only that, he views it as the only act that is entirely unselfish in its creation and motivation.  Taking the Schopenhauerian stance that art alone whether it be music, painting or philosophy allows us to depart from our biological roles as animals designed to consume, procreate and make our lives as energy-conserving as possible (though of course Nietzsche enjoys pointing out that this isn’t always the case to attempt to validate his theory of the Will to Power) and instead appreciate things as they are not how they can serve our needs or desires.  His reference to “images of the absolute truth” could be interpreted either as Schopenhauerian, Platonist or arguably in-a-sense Kantian in nature.  Though Schopenhauer is the one who talks of music (specifically music because he believes it is aesthetic appreciation in its purest form and therefore the purest embodiment of the Will we can possibly have in our lives due-to his belief that art is not merely our depiction of our particular feelings but of universals or rather the universal Will of al existence) and other forms of art being representations of existence as it truly is in some abstract and grandiose fashion when Plato and Kant aren’t in this sentiment to the same extent and in some ways require a bit of a stretch to place them there.  Overall of course Writer seems to be the archetype Pessimist and Schopenhauerian.
The Professor retorts with a type of pragmatism that could be interpreted as expressive of Marxism when he criticizes Writer for believing that art is the only unselfish action when there are millions starving as they speak.  This of course reflects the quote of Marx:  Philosophers have thus-far only interpreted the world; the point however is to change it.  Taking the view that Existentialism and the various other academic philosophies might be effective ways for intellectuals to stroke themselves mentally, but essentially most of the problems on this planet we know how to solve (now so more-than ever since Marx was alive) but agonies and the horrors of human existence continue due-to the systematic oppression and poor management of resources that happen under the increasingly global economic system namely Capitalism and its cultural superstructures namely religion, consumerism and general apathy to the sufferings of others.  So perhaps we should reexamine our definitions and restate the Schopenhauerian view that instead of aesthetic creation and appreciation being the only unselfish form of activity (which isn’t Schopenhauer’s view) instead it is the only objective form of appreciation when all other perceptions of existence and modes of thought consist of how to further our goals and ends whether they be selfish in nature or not.
Stalker then has a hallucination that he interprets as divine and we see as religious in connotation that frankly I would see removed from the film.  I say this in no way because of my Atheism and Anti-Theism but rather it seems to be nothing but piffle.  If anything they should substitute the monologue of whispering with some biblical scripture or theological material about the nature of “Doubting Thomases” though hopefully something of more substance than “The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.”  Oh really?  How profound.  A religion saying that everyone who disagrees with your main tenant of belief is a fool.  Never heard of that move before.  Though it does speak of the strong fearing the Wrath of God which in some ways alludes to Stalker’s earlier speech of strength being a detriment and trait of death when what he describes as weakness or rather tenderness and pliancy are qualities of new sprung and healthy life.  It’s an interesting concept that seems to fit quite well with the Stalker’s psychology, just as the Writer’s views fit his character and psychology well.  Though I suppose it isn’t a horrible scene and would be one of the last I would cut to save time, I also dislike any scene that artificially pontificates something through a dream, hallucination or anything that in a non-naturalistic way conveys any type of message.  I’m not sure whether the writers of this were Christian, so I’m not sure if they’re inserting their views simplistically into the film but that’s my natural suspicion whenever it occurs.  And that after the dialogue there’s a long scene of nothing but music and scenery doesn’t help either.  If I wanted the experience of sound and visuals representing nothing I’d watch my desktop screensaver with a playlist added to it.  At-least with 2001 the final “visual” scene is fairly captivating and furthers the plot of the movie, though of course that’s another movie that could use a drastic editing session though for additional reasons.
Stalker then speaks his side of the role of art and specifically music and speaks of the effect music can have on us which also clearly has a Schopenhauerian element in it.  That primarily we are not beings of intellect but psychology.  That our true motives and essence is not rational, that is based on reason, but by our biological nature and we create rationale and intellectual abstractions for things afterwards – this of course being a Humean element as well as Schopenhauerian.  His statement that everything has sense could be interpreted as a statement of teleology and purpose in either an Aristotelian or religious fashion.  This would fit as his justification for suffering itself no matter as poor an argument it would be.  That if we did not suffer we would not know the joys of having said sorrows extinguished and without pain and misery the Zone, or in the instance of Christianity, Jesus dying for our supposed sins would not be necessary.  These of course have a Leibnitzian essence to them that I don’t think I need to argue against and are humorously lampooned in Voltaire’s great work Candide.
I could make an analogy to Writer going first, then Professor and finally Stalker down the tunnel as representing Philosophers such as Democritus, Epicurus and others making the real advancements in human understanding and scientists adding more specific details to their views afterwards and the religious agree with them centuries later after much resistance but finally contouring themselves as to not become totally insignificant and deemed laughable though of course part of this transformation is natural and not deliberate or deliberative.  One of the worst analogies I could make however considering that they are in the Zone en route to the Room which ultimately has religious connotations and that they are being led by The Stalker though he feels that one person should go first though why I haven’t the foggiest.  I suppose you could argue for the nonsensical elements of much of religion that have nothing to do with human function or ethics.  And arguably the nature of the status-quo to assign all major risks even in a system they run (Stalker doesn’t run the Zone but he supposedly has special understanding of it just as Capitalists supposedly have not only knowledge but a special gift for “creating” wealth that some are stupid enough to believe and use for rationalization for their immense amounts of wealth that keep millions in starvation) to someone else.  Also though I can appreciate the tension and atmosphere the scene creates slightly under six minutes of a man walking in a tube with two cowards (though you could argue that Professor is merely behind with Stalker because it is what Stalker wishes) trailing him does not cinema make.  Also I find particularly amusing that Stalker essentially makes Writer go first but tells him to wait for his cowardly superstitious ass after he’s gone through a room of filthy water.  I suppose you could see that as exposing the particularly degrading element of religion and authority in general.
The hatred Writer feels of his plight and sentiments of anti-intellectualism are expressed when he is sitting at the rim of a well.  That there are no facts and “all of this” is an idiotic invention in someone’s mind once again seems to be aspects of Berkley that like his quote on miracles don’t seem fitting to Writer’s character or what he should represent if he is to represent a certain ideology or mentality without any breaks or inconsistencies.  If this dialogue leading up to his hatred of his position and the critics and intellectuals who berate should be uttered, it should be spoken by Stalker as he is explaining his understanding of the Zone, though he wouldn’t likely call it idiotic.  Though what I find strange is that he doesn’t specifically express hatred for their criticism of him (which would be ironic considering he should represent the not-only analytical but constantly critical mind that is piecing apart everything and finds no rest; and then to have others piece him apart and call his work redundant, passé’, foolish or insignificant would have a certain aspect of poetry to it I would admire) but that they always ask for more.  But why should this matter if he makes his living as a writer?  Unless he’s substantially wealthy he’ll have to write more anyway to make a living.  So why should it bother him so that he has a loyal fan base highly acclaiming his work and demanding more so he can make more money?  Of course it turns out that he once was idealistic and believed that his work could serve a noble and utilitarian purpose and express beauty as well-as help people but now seems to mirror Doug Stanhope in believing people parrot his arguments and sentiments but fail to internalize them or act according to them in any regard.  This does overall express quite well that he secretly is very considerate of others though he explicitly states and acts as if he’s narcissistic and unempathetic like we see in House or in its reverse case Dexter – though with Dexter we have him being a kind person on the surface, him believing and overall at-first being completely cold-hearted and narcissistic, but then we see increasing evidence that he is a warm person with concerns for the wellbeing of others.  And to the question of if he is suffering so much why doesn’t he get a new career:  His fans continuously demand more though he realizes that though they acclaim him (assumingly) as a genius they utter fail to internalize and appreciate the true meaning of his work; and because he is a considerate person who to some extent does care about others he finds himself unable to deny his loyal readers their requests for new material. 
Maybe I’m merely not an appreciator of “abstract” or ambiguous poetry – or poetry in general for I find you should be more explicit in one’s sentiments though of course that does not exclude analogy – but I really could’ve done without Porcupine’s brother’s attempts at verse.  Also because we see nothing paranormal happen – besides the disappearing falcon – in the Zone it’s hard for me to believe the set-up Stalker presents of so many perishing in it.  I’m not saying that he’s lying necessarily, but that our entire perception of the Zone isn’t at-all like he portrays it as which behind the length of the film is its main failing.  They could at-least show corpses – which by the way would go where in this Zone?  Or did the Zone make them disappear like the bird? – if they aren’t going to have anything out-of-the-ordinary happen to build tension and credibility.
The unfairness of the match game could be analogous of God deciding who goes to Hell and who to Heaven.  It is of course unjust in the most possible way – other than everyone going there – that anyone suffer eternally, but it seems that the game is unfair in who goes where.  If the test is faith then some people are born naturally to believe in things without any evidence easily than others and so many of course are ignorant of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or whatever you view the “true faith” as being.  But of course faith has no bearing in-itself on the ethical nature of an individual.  In-regards to ethics some are born more compassionate and some more cruel; some are born in a house or Nation where one is molded to be more moral and some the exact opposite.  The Stalker replies of course that the choice was his, but the game of matches shows us that it was both completely random and not based on any merit and that the game was rigged towards Writer going in the pipe or the individual being damned for his nature or circumstance.
I don’t exactly understand why Professor should feel horribly guilty for detonating the bomb and destroying the Zone.  Is it because he will have destroyed the hopes of countless people to theoretically believe in it?  Because he will theoretically be destroying the means to have countless dreams come true and the world made a better place?  Or is it because the bomb will not only destroy the Zone but harm other people outside of it?  It supposedly wouldn’t kill him or the people he’s with because the man on the phone says he’ll later hang himself in a prison cell out of guilt.  He says that military coups and mafia influencing their Government could very-likely be because of wishes fulfilled in the Room but couldn’t any random happenstance of fortune be just as easily be associated with the Zone if not more-likely?  If magic were possible most people I think would wish for good things for them (or what they personally desire which may in-fact harm them) that are almost totally without consequence to others or for the increase in general welfare and the dissolution of conflicting interests, so that you could truly have a society where the welfare of one would be a concern of the welfare of all.  Most who enter the Room wouldn’t be as rational to wish for this specifically, but even if most are in their day-to-day lives completely apathetic to the burdens and hardships of others, when they feel they have the opportunity to wish for anything they could many I feel would wish for something that would lead to the increase in living for if not all certainly most – particularly of course if they too are included in this raise in living standards.  He believes in the stories depicting tragic doings but not the stories of anything deemed beneficial or desired.  I perhaps would expect this from Writer who seems to be the Pessimist, but until now Professor has seemed to be a somewhat cheerful pragmatic person.  Cheerful in the sense that he’s the only character who doesn’t whine.  Why he believes in any stories of wishes coming true I suppose shows that even at-times rational and even brilliant minds can segment their minds in a sense and believe in the most ludicrous things; add paranoia and mental illness onto that and you would have someone who though a scientist could believe in demons hiding his and granting nefarious characters their wishes.  Once again the movie provides absolutely no evidence as to whether or not these wishes actually come true or not so it seems incredible and therefore unlikely;
but worse than that it creates a lack of credibility both intellectually and psychologically so we feel disconnected from the dialogue and film.  They might as well-as be talking about the hypothetical doings of aliens in other galaxies while never once showing a man in a three-fingered suit.  This is the rare film that could use a reworking and modernization and desperately so.
The Writer argues that no one could truly wish - that is emotionally desire with their being - the blessing or damnation of any large section of the populous.  The film seems to be jumping ahead with the explanation that the film theoretically – because we have no evidence of either or any proposition in any way so it seems unlikely that any wishes are coming true – only fulfills your subconscious and visceral desires, not at all like a genie who grants the wishes you say aloud.  But is this true?  It seems open to interpretation.  Let’s say that Adolf Hitler hated Jews because of what many people say and Jewish art critics didn’t like his art.  If he stepped into the room with a vehement hatred for Jews because of this, would suffering or death befall all who are supposedly God’s chosen people (believing that being “Jewish” is a racial rather than primarily religious identifier, as many Orthodox Jews also seem to believe being petty racialists and tribalists themselves) or only the art critics his rage was either caused from or the true target of?  Here of course we need to divide the two distinct concepts of causation and true targets of emotion in our subconscious that our conscious minds muddle – a very Freudian concept obviously. 
With causation, it could be that one feels hatred or love for a particular person or demographic that has absolutely nothing to do with the demographic itself.  People being raised in a racist society are the most automatic example of this.  And I find myself skeptical of the notion that one cannot feel immense love or hatred towards humanity in-general or a particular portion of it.  It would be merely an abstraction of said demographic of course, for example, if I had, say, a white-hot hatred for sports-viewers, fashion drones, passive consumers or people who use the word “patriarchy” with complete sincerity (purely hypothetical of course) because what I really hate is an aspect of their person that I perceive in them accurately or not and then potentially extend that hatred or love towards the person as a whole depending on the degree of love or hate and my psychology.  But would the Room operate on this abstraction?  Of course we have no way of knowing but if it did not then it’s fair to say that it is indeed impossible to viscerally wish the good or ill of those who are merely abstractions to any individual.  But then what wishes would it fulfill if it did look into our inner-most self?  Freud argues that at the beginning of life all we really crave is pleasure, and everything is a matter of satisfaction and fulfillment for us.  But then, as our ego and superego develop, things become more valuable and deemed of higher importance to us in a weighted subconscious way than even pure Hedonistic pleasure.  And this is where we date girls that our like our mothers even if we thought our mothers were neurotic cunts because we all secretly either want the parent’s acceptance or return to the safety of childhood or relive the past to correct it or insert any line of psychoanalytic claptrap here that is most-likely the case for some people but Freud extends to far-too many.
Which part of our subconscious which Freud, Nietzsche and I believe Schopenhauer all say are in conflict would the Room fulfill?  The Id would simply have us be neurologically rewired to experience a perpetual orgasm.  The Ego would fulfill whatever it is we define our sense of worth to whether it be intellect, achievement, money, sexual prowess, sexual achievement and this is what Writer represents if he truly wants the inspiration to be a great writer – if he wanted to be a writer for the validation of his own ego which there is evidence for; though there is also evidence that he wanted to be an artist to help people which you could argue is the superego at-work.  Speaking of the superego, this seems to be aspect of the human psyche’ that would make the moralistic wishes that involve abstractions that I spoke of earlier though abstractions of intellect and ideology as well-as of the subconscious: global prosperity for Communists and other Leftists; a supposedly “fair” playing field for Liberals; and a religious dictatorship of constant proslatization – for the Christian is nothing without those who don’t believe – and oppression of certain aspects of society for Conservatives.  Overall once one asks the subconscious mind to play the role of the conscious, that is to be something to be fulfilled when fulfillment of a particular wish belongs of course to the realm of sentience, then we arrive essentially at a question that cannot be answered.
This seems to be a perfect metaphor as is whether or not wishes are in-fact being fulfilled in the Room for the definitions of Agnostic and Atheist.  I realize that the current definition of Agnostic is someone who claims that they lack knowledge of a topic.  But to me this is non-functional and excludes a definition for the philosophical position of one who believes that knowledge of a thing is impossible, not only just something we are currently deprived of.  Immanuel Kant for example would fall in the category of this form of Agnosticism which I believe should be the true definition of the word; believing that it is impossible for us to know whether there is an afterlife, we possess a soul or there is any creator to existence.  However, I would fall in the category of an Atheist, that is, someone who believes that such questions can be answered and we have at-least some evidence that indicates that such things don’t exist (though I suppose most Buddhists are Atheists technically and they believe in a immaterial soul). 
The example of whether or not wishes are being fulfilled is a perfect example because the Roomist – someone who believes in the validity of the Room – could always argue that whatever occurs outside the Room are the person’s subconscious desires being granted in whatever way best fits their case in their mind.  Similar to Theists of various stripes who argue that the Universe contradicting scripture is merely us discovering that God is more wonderful than we originally comprehended – not that at-least the Christian God doesn’t exist because there are large errors and contradictions in what is supposedly a holy and wholly infallible work that tells us of such God’s existence; such being the reaction of someone not making intellectual leaps to justify their belief system which has become indefensible.  As to whether or not an impersonal “First Cause” or “Prime Mover” in the Aristotelian or Deistic sense exists is a completely different question however. 
It seems nearly impossible to either garner evidence for or against such a creator.  What this God – if we can even call it a God for it exhibits only one of the qualities that the Gods of Monotheisms and Polytheisms exhibit – even is seems to be an uncertain matter because when something lacks detail or complexity in our description of it is ambiguous and foreign very-much like Schopenhauer’s Will.  You can be poetic and say that all existence is governed by a malevolent striving will but until you give actual empirical description of such it will remain an unfleshed out concept.  This is of course different to emotions and abstract notions of good and evil, because we intrinsically understand such-things to be emotions or conceptions derived from cause-and-effect or our psychological values. 
It seems to me at-times that what the Deists were really arguing for was in-effect what the Big Bang is.  Since their main gripe seemed to be with many of their contemporaries of antiquity that our Universe and planet isn’t eternal as Democritus for example thought; has a beginning and very-likely will have an end as modern science indicates.  Voltaire, Thomas Paine and though I’m overall ignorant of his philosophical views Victor Hugo seems to be Deists however that believe there is a type of conscious reason and goodness and therefore a explicit intention of this God’s creation similar to the Theists.  For example, they might argue there is goodness in Nature to the extent that those who exercise and treat their bodies well live a long healthy life (or are far-more likely considering otherwise healthy people have and do die of disease or famine in the millions upon millions) over those who exercise upon their impulse of sloth (though is sloth rather the lack of impulse?) and leave their muscles to atrophy.  Their arguments are of course selective and they make the same mistakes that Theists do in contending that a God creating a universe and the physical laws of consequence in beneficence or had us in mind.  Also true beneficence would be to make us all generally healthy and not need to strain our muscles to keep them large, but this is a small point.
It seems to me that there is also the human dilemma of desiring to attach consciousness to reason.  It is theoretically possible for say a computer (and of course we’re developing to the point where this will very-soon be no longer theoretical) to be highly developed in matters of reason (such as complex and sophisticated mathematics which computers today can solve with ease) while not being a thinking thing.  Sentience however implies desires or if not desires in the emotional sense than desired outcomes in that whatever action had a conscious being behind it will have a motive and goal unless said action was involuntary or a accident of some kind.  So if the definition of a God is a being of consciousness, it is safe to argue that Deists are simply more “Liberal” or less judgmental Theists that are lacking in dogma and scripture who nonetheless believe in a personal God but not one that intimately regulates human affairs or cares if you have a homosexual relationship with a guy from the gym.  This seems to be a position that more intelligent men and women embrace, since thankfully most are psychologically repulsed by all religions especially the more dogmatic ones such as Christianity, but overall is a non-intellectual position.  In that any serious thought will dissuade one from said position if attaining an accurate depiction of reality is their goal which is a primary aspect of Intellectualism. 
The definition of a God being derivative of reason however seems more akin to Pantheism however.  The Stoics speak of a Universal Reason that existence has, and though some of their stances are indefensible – the view that all moral errors are of the same degree, or rather degree is not an aspect of ethics for example – it seems that this view is one that at-least on the surface is more worthy of upholding. 
Also this is the only form of belief in any notion of God that is spared the obvious critique of “who created the creator?” that undoes Deism, Theism and the supposed authority or rather legitimacy of most religions – even if the existence of these Gods seemed evident that would give them no credit to govern or rule over us as the faithful love to insist due-to their psychological maladies.  For though all evidence points to a completely non-intelligent form of creation for our universe, it could easily be argued that there is some underlying consistency in the laws of motion and matter that could be argued as a form of “reason” loosely speaking.  To say that this reason had us humans or life in mind at-all would be to once again presume this “essence” has a mind at-all and would be returning to the fallacies of Deism and Theism; however, it could be argued that a “Pantheist Ethic” could be derived from the monitoring of the laws of Cause-and-effect and the universality of humans in basic integrity being derived from the same source.  It is well-known that the Bible endorses slavery and religions have always been less than commendable in their history and understanding of human rights.  However, the Stoics, their precursors the Cynics and the Epicureans argued that all men and women freeman and slave are equal in basic integrity of their lives and rights derived from this basic human dignity.  Using slightly different language, “Nature” for the Stoics, and matter for the Epicureans, they both use entirely secular arguments to deduce basic moral principles.  And finally what is most commendable about Pantheism is it tends to have a certain understanding of Determinism and Materialism or rather Monism that is the source of a far-more compassionate ethic viewing all criminals and wrongdoers and fundamentally flawed sufferers themselves who had no choice but to do their wrong doings being damned by fate and material circumstance producing either a unvirtuous character or the plight to commit wrong doings out of material necessity.  Though this in some ways seems to be a precursor to a scientific mindset, we must be wary not to blur the line between Pantheism and Animism that is that superstitious primitive notion that there is a soul behind all things.
Now finally to get to the main philosophical basis of the movie removed from that of the character’s attributes and dialogues – that is to say the main intellectual essence of the plot regardless of the characters in it.  What I speak of the basis of problems of causality in the fulfillment of wishes.  Just as those who believe in God but not that God ordains all things will never know what is ordained by God and what is simply the causal relations of things operating under physical law (namely the events of everything everywhere all the time).  And of course being delusional and wanting to believe in this seemingly perfect God, they attribute all goodness in life to God while all evil is either simply due-to the natural order of life or attributed to Man due-to his fall.  Blaming people for all evil and God for all good.  We don’t know whether Porcupine becoming rich had anything to do with the Zone or not.  They simply say that it fulfills your subconscious desires rather than an explicitly stated wish because that’s the only way the Zone could still have magical powers.  What is far-more likely is Porcupine just happen to naturally by the hand of fate become exorbant in wealth either by playing the lottery or essentially winning the lottery of financial luck without buying a ticket and commits suicide either through grief of his dead brother or guilt that he could have saved him but didn’t because he is a awful person who subconsciously values money more-than his brother’s life if he interpreted events as Writer and Professor do. 
This problem of causality we see particularly in the mystical and religious mind, the dense dullards who believe that prayer brings a fruitful harvest but blames Atheists or some other “other” whether it be Pagans or Jews when their crops fail to flourish.  We see this still in the poorest areas in the country – poor in finances and more importantly in IQ points – also known as the Bible Belt where Rick Perry and other worthless morons who should be shot on sight for belligerence told people to pray for rain.  Such stupidity is irreconcilable with human freedom or prosperity and is deemed the greatest evil by all wise men.  However, we secularists and atheists are not completely spared from this philosophical problem.  David Hume of course is famous for being skeptical of us ever knowing a things true cause, and though such a degree of skepticism I find unwarranted the distinction between correlation and causation is something that even the most educated of minds have growth to make in-terms of understanding.
Though this ultimately goes back to the points I was making earlier in the essay, to have the Stalker say that you must believe that your wish will be fulfilled for it to be fulfilled is much like saying that you must believe in God to receive any indication that he exists or to reach Heaven rather than Hell upon death.  Religion of course contrasts science in this way being that science can be demonstrated on empirical findings while religion always requires faith a prerequisite of which being a combination of social coercion, ignorance and suffering.  Towards the end we see much of his similarities to the Priesthood.  His profiting off of the hope he gives to the suffering and anguished is one I could have made earlier but failed to.  Selfishly helping others to confirm his own self-worth; similar to why Writer thinks people do great things.  Also with Stalker we see why faith has a strange appeal on some people.  You would think that all religious people would wish to prove the existence of their God.  But on the contrary many take pleasure in the notion that faith is necessary because if said desire to think critically and examine the evidence carefully was present the person wouldn’t be religious.  They crave faith because they crave delusions to remove themselves from the realities of life that are either legitimately disheartening or simple realities like the inevitability of death that they are too weak to confront.  This of course is why we see so many simple-minded Christians flock to films like “God’s Not Dead” and read garbage like “The Case for Faith” which does nothing but essentially pat them on the back for being stupid.  Stalker seems early on to be content with what he has and who he is for he has no need to go into the Room.  What is very-likely however is that he dares not go in the room or guide his wife there either despite her suffering and immense misery for if his or her wish was not granted his faith would be discredited.  Just as the Priesthood were against Galileo and other geniuses looking at the motions of celestial bodies for they did not want their earthly power discredited by examination of the heavenly bodies men of God knew nothing about.  Another example of this is the white Christians who made sure of two things to ensure the future of slavery:  depriving the slaves of all knowledge and hope in this life; and using force to convert them to Christianity so they would be hoodwinked to believe in a world after this one and would not do the rightful thing of brutally murdering the reprehensible excuses of human beings that they were forced to call “master.”
The Professor wanting to destroy the Room seems very-much like the Marxist critique of religion being a delusion, a false comfort of people living in hardship that ultimately is what deprives them from real prosperity, fulfillment and happiness.  The more Liberal Atheists say to the Anti-Theist, “what’s the problem in believing in God?  Life is hard and if these people need to believe in nonsense to get through the day who are we to criticize?” But of course this is a cheap justification for allowing heinous people to spew lies and Atheists and Intellectuals to allow the standards of truth and intellect to be trampled upon.  We all know that everyone is entitled to our own personal thoughts and convictions, as is an element held in The Separation of Religion from Government which is the grandest part of this country – when it is upheld.  However, to not retaliate when one is confronted with an ideological enemy who believes it is right for us to suffer eternally in Hell is akin to the Christian and Pacifist stupidity exhibited in icons such as Gandhi: simpletons who believe that fasting and civil disobedience is always and exactly (that is requiring nothing more) the path to freedom and progress.  When we remove earthly delusions we remove one of the main factors preventing us to create a world where delusions are no longer desirable to the extent and way that they are for so many.  The Professor actually believes that this place has magical abilities, but what would be more intelligent if he knew that it of course didn’t but wanted to destroy it so it wouldn’t become a new Mecca for a new religion.  And though it would nip one potentially growing cult or religion in the butt, because he is destroying a potential place of worship (while not actually destroying a building that is someone’s rightful property and will prove a poor PR move altering the perceptions of Atheists for a large demographic proving to be counter-productive for Atheism and Secularism) rather than doing anything with Man’s material conditions or intellectual environment he is doing some but very-little good.  And of course it makes sense that the Scientist rather than the Philosopher would want to destroy religion through non-idealistic means, for it fits the Marxist quote, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point however is to change it.”
What follows is another four minutes roughly that could be taken out of a film.  If anything else this film teaches us how long short periods of time can feel when we are expecting something to entertain or educate us and we receive only scenery.
Stalker later expresses his contempt for the Atheists Writer and Professor.  Some may claim that his hatred is natural or to be expected in a manner that justifies it; or that supposedly I hate Christians just as Christians hate me.  This shows how deep the religious sense of hatred has penetrated our society.  To hate the other just because they our difference is an inherently religious concept and small-minded trait.  I don’t hate Christians, only a hateful and bigoted Christian who preaches anti-scientific and anti-intellectual ideals.  Though I must confess I find the bland ones somewhat contemptuous as well; though I realize that pity is a far more appropriate emotion for them overall and their Christianity is only one of the reasons for their dullness – being raised in a sports-filled anti-intellectual consumer culture full of mediocre hacks and idiots being another main reason.  Returning to my previous point and to make an analogy of it; it would never be proper for an individual of any skin color to hate someone of a different tone, but it would be justifiable and rational to hate racists.  The Christian who hates the doubting Thomas, the faithful who constantly needs to assert their religion into any conversation, are those who are so insecure and fragile in their psyche’ they cannot handle even the existence of disagreement and doubt.
Stalker chastises Writer and Professor when they are not present for supposedly believing in nothing, but it seems to me that it is a subsection of the devout that are the true Nihilists.  He mocks them for saying they were “called for a purpose,” and accepting the reality that they only live once, but I fail to see what’s contemptible about these rather ambiguous statements in-themselves.  Don’t Christians themselves believe they have been called upon in a sense?  Atheists and Existentialists would believe in no innate purpose in a divine sense, but rather either because of the current circumstances of the planet and its inhabitants they are “called upon” to use their intellect and talents to improve and change for the better all that they can; or to assign a meaning to their lives that is genuine and authentic to them in the case of the Existentialist – many of these things commonly chosen involve helping people in some way even if it’s given them great films or novels to think about and enjoy.  Both of these attitudes, the Materialist and the Existentialist, require an ethic that is either futile or contradictory in the scriptures.  Futile in the sense of the New Testament prophesying the end of the world – and as a good and just thing no less – so all attempts to improve our material plight are meaningless if “our kingdom is not of this world.”  And contradictory in the Existentialist sense of Christianity and all religions preaching more-or-less a cult-esque mentality of deriving the meaning, purpose and validity of one’s life on the religion or Groupthink that one has accustomed one’s self to.
And finally we see Stalker’s inner-most fear.  That no one needs the room.  The fear of Christians that with the coming of a perfect world will come a day when faith and God are no longer needed – as are they.  That with the end of poverty will come the end of soup kitchens for the poor and Christian soupladlers who currently lack the intelligence or knowledge to do anything of any real worth in a world worth living in for everyone.

The most beautiful sentiment portrayed in the film is the Stalker’s wife telling us that although she knew a life with her husband would be hard and full of misery she married him because a life containing sorrow with someone one loves is better than a gray life of no great passions.  This expresses one of the most basic concepts of Nietzsche’s very-well.  That with life we must accept a certain kind of good and bad, a certain hardship, to attain greatness; but in no way is this a defense of the miseries that both create a necessity for and are perpetuated in-part by the type of person her husband is.  There is also a very beautiful sentiment of us accepting our nature and the painful and beneficial aspects of them.  In that human beings are not fundamentally creatures of reason, and most of us have to deal with certain counter-intuitive aspects of our personality that are necessary for us to be fully human and in some cases even to accomplish certain wonders.  The neurotic artist exemplified in Woody Allen characters being a perfect example.
There is little take-away with this film asides from properly displaying many aspects of religion and the religious psychology.  I would recommend an edited copy to the philosophy inclined but it's far from perfect with it's blaring errors.  I usually have a grandiose ending but since the film's ending is so anti-climatic to have the essay end the same way is apropos I suppose.