This morning -- I am glad I decided to see the movie Gravity yesterday, and would want to see it get an Academy Award next time.
It's not just another industrial accident movie, full of action and adrenalin (though it has those aspects, for those who crave them). The old movie 'Aliens' had that kind of nonstop adrenalin too, but a world-class psychiatrist would not really have much interest in that movie, except to analyze what kind of people would make or enjoy it. But this one.... even though it is all set in a very hard-core objective reality, it is really a deep psychological movie.
"OK," says Luda, who didn't see anything but the trailer," but the will to survive is a feeling common to people all over the world. And there are lots of movies which talk about struggle for survival."
Yes, but this one gets deeper into it... to the point where it raises some interesting new thoughts to me about the kind of psychological resources we need to marshall, in order to stay alive.
And let's face it, the human species is very much in that kind of struggle for its very survival right now. At the moment I write, the US government is shut down and perilously close to a debt ceiling crisis... and losing the US or falling into a new great depression would be a lot like losing a queen in a game of chess, losing a crucial piece in humanity's larger struggle to survive. As I observe (and try to help) in this larger struggle for survival, I see every day how much we need to marshall our full psychological strength and will, in exactly the same way Sandra Bullock had to marshall them... with a level of depth and reality far greater than what you see in the gauzy fanstasies which lead so many of the Congressmen today to paths about as promising as those of drug addicts.
What are those inner resources, and how can we understand them scientifically?
Most of the movie is about struggle, consciousness and will (but love and spirit enter as well) in the face of very harsh and solid objective reality. At the end.. a frog provides a really noteworthy touch...
and a little later Sandra Bullock stands up in a scene where indeed a picture equates to a thousand words and ideas. This morning, I started telling myself: "OK, my main job today is to stay in the right frame of mind for the video Skype talk I give in Beijing tonight. So I will try to hold onto the feeling in that scene... I am a kind of child of the earth, connected to the sun and the fresh breezes and the life of this world.. and if I create new emotional hooks in myself today, they will be positive things connected to the needs and growth of those folks I talk to today." Just for today.
It reminds me a bit of the old concept of "resolutions." When I first read the discussion of that
concept in lower-level Rosicrucian literature long ago, the very mention of it struck me as somewhat alien. It reminded me of rural school teachers or mothers urging their little girl to repeat a hundred times "I will be a good girl today." But later, through life, I could see more and more how it fits in. Certainly we need a balance of our "inner to-do list" with the ones we write on paper.
For example, in Gravity, some resolutions: "I will not let myself dissolve into a ball of jelly. I will survive.
I will make it." (Forgive me, but in describing it to Luda, I did mention Sophocles... a certain KIND of
powerful overt simplicity... but psychologically, it is more complex.)
Thinking about that this morning... I remembered a very advanced plenary talk on neuroscience in Montreal
a few years ago, where the guy basically said: "I have finally figured out the real functions of the two most advanced parts of the human brain, the leading edge of our consciousness. They are there to address the most difficult questions which the human brain is learning how to answer. One is -- where did I leave my car this time in the parking lot? The other is -- what was I trying to do anyway?" In my 2012 paper in Neural Networks, I discuss that further, and show the connection to a key new concept of "active memory."
So -- "resolutions" are basically a matter of making use of active memory (how we REALLY keep track
of our car in the parking lot) TO the issue of "what was I planning to do anyway?
Now tonight can I help the lead new intellectuals of China remember in future what THEY are trying to do? It's a bit scary, but not really scary like Gravity ... but it too is part of struggle for survival of humanity as a whole.
On a minor note... I can see some friends in NSS saying "Oh yes, it's a movie about orbital debris.
The problem isn't quite so acute as depicted here... but it is a chronic problem, and this should remind us not to forget it when we draw up lists of priorities and make strategic plans. Also, there is a struggle for more sustainable ways of living and working in space." Also true/