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.
END OF PART ONE.
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.
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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;
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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.
END OF PART TWO.
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. 
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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.

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