Greenland (movie critique): A case on our demised civilization…

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WARNING: Major spoilers for the movie Greenland (2020) ahead. Please move away if you have a problem with knowing how the movie ends.

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I recently saw the movie Greenland with Gerard Butler.

It is a typical Hollywood movie with action, drama and a lot of special effects. A nice movie overall, given of course the category it is in. It will surely give you a good two hours of pop-corn-eating pleasure.

The plot?

A comet is approaching Earth and all is going to die.

All?

Of course not.

The hero will be saved. And his family too. And to be fair to the movie, the scenario is not the typical scenario of planet-destruction movies where the hero tries to save the world. Here there are pleasant twists from the very beginning of the movie that offer something refreshing and different from what we would expect: The hero knows from the very beginning of the movie that the comet will hit Earth and he also learns that he and his family are selected to be saved. These things are clarified in the first ten minutes of the film! This offers some real excitement and anticipation for a really interesting climax.

And the film does not disappoint us.

Yes, the hero is chosen for survival.

But things get complicated.

SECOND WARNING: Major spoilers for the movie Greenland (2020) ahead. Consider yourself warned.

Greenland movie poster (Source)

Because the hero’s son is ill, he cannot board the plane that will take him and his family to safety. Where is that? Well, as in all typical super-effects-super-action movies, the shelter is a super classified shelter built by the government is a remote place. From the title of the movie, it is evident where that place is…

Fast-forward many minutes ahead and the hero at the end manages to reach the super-classified shelter (which for obvious-only-to-the-script-writer reasons is now known to everyone who can fly a small plane) right before the larger piece of the comet hits Earth.

This is a piece that will cause a planetary-anihiliation event similar to the one that made the dinosaurs gracefully give their place to us on this planet.

The final moment is touching and emotional (well, at least for the standards of such a movie – but to be honest it wasn’t that bad). The hero says to his son right before the comet hits Earth that he and his wife loves him and that it doesn’t matter what will happen because they are all together.

Comet hits Earth.

His (the hero’s) life passes in front of his eyes (something his son told him in the beginning of the movie that happens when you die, a nice touch of προοικονομία in the movie). Past happy days with his wife. Some past birthday of his son when he was three. Smiles and happy faces. A scene where he is hugging his wife.

And then.

Darkness.

I was amazed. Did I just see a movie where the hero and his family die? That would be fantastic! A movie where at last the end is not some corny cheesy ending of ‘happily ever after’. After all, it was a killer comet. Who would survive that? It all made sense in a poetic way. They tried so much to survive, only to die together. Isn’t that what life is about? We all struggle to live more. But at the end we all know that we will die.

Very few people realize that. I mean REALLY realize it.

We live every day with the illusion that we will live for ever.

We know we won’t.

But this is our secret desire. And we can’t let go of it.

And our civilization is too much blinded by our wishes that has banned death from our thoughts and lives. We know people die, but we only really think about it when people die. And only for a second, right before we storm out and try to conquer life, conquer the world and all that other nice life mottos we are meant to follow. Because life is all that matters. Death is for the others. It is not there, unless it really touches us.

And do you know what’s funny?

A death-averting civilization like our own is a civilization that at the end praises death!

One can never be alive unless we embrace our ending.

But we never do.

Even in the face of certain death, we always have hope that we will get better. That medicine will save us. That somehow our modern civilization will defeat death. And when it doesn’t, hope is just kept alive through the others who are kept alive. For we believe that life is about living. But it is not. We are alive because we have soul. We are alive because we are Beings. Part of One. If we were simple sets of electrons and protons then we would just be… simple sets of electrons and protons. But we are more than that. There is something mystical transcending through the cosmos. And we will miss it every time we focus on the surface of the passing river…

As Rainer Maria Rilke used to say.

The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.

But we like so much the small things…

PS. Of course after a moment of false astonishment, the movie went on. The hero and his family survived. Everyone in the shelter survived. Other people in other cities also survived. We are too important to be destroyed by a comet. Our civilization will survive. This is our dream. Fed by our dream for us surviving. As I said above, we dream of conquering death. And in the process, we forgot that life is not about living…

PS2. Now you know. Just ‘cut’ the movie at the end of the scene where Gerard Butler remembers his life. And the movie will get so much better.

Control. Life. Death.

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A recent study found out that older adults feel younger when they feel that they have more control over their daily lives, regardless of stress or health concerns. However, stress and health – not a sense of control – play a significant role in how old younger adults feel. (1)

Old people try to control life.

Because they feel it will end.

Young people not caring about controlling anything.

Because they believe they will live forever.

Funny.

For both they had what they seek.

But they lost it the moment they started seeking it.

Old people had control when they were still healthy and thought of everything except having control. Young men had health when they had still control and thought of everything except being healthy.

Think again for what you search for.

You will never find it ahead.

For it is already behind you.

Stop walking.

And think for a moment.

Why did you even start?

Societies… Cooperation… A lone man in the forest…

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Researchers are exploring how cooperation arises in human societies, where people tend to cluster into various group types — political, religious, familial, professional, etc. Within such groups, people can cooperate or ‘defect’ and receive payoffs based on those exchanges. Cooperation, they observed, is most favored when allowing for the existence of ‘loners’ — people who are temporarily not members of any group.

Chu and Tarnita found that cooperation still emerges, but that it is most favored when they allow for the existence of “loners” in the population – people who, due to barriers, are temporarily not members of any group. Loners are essential, Chu explained, “because they keep group sizes lower than they would have been without barriers to group entry.”

Smaller groups allow cooperation to thrive, while making the system as a whole more resilient, by limiting the destructive influence of a defector exploiting a group of cooperators. Chu cautions against drawing too much from one model amid a sea of evolutionary game theory models. Nevertheless, their recent work shows, reassuringly, that there may be hope for maintaining cooperation in our world. (1)

Societies thrive.

But only because there are people outside of them.

It is those people who drive societies along the dark paths of history.

By holding the light on while others are too preoccupied gazing at it.

For the dark forest is far away.

We may fear it, but we want to go back in.

We left it a long time ago.

We gathered together because we felt lonely outside of it.

And we never stopped thinking about it.

So many people gathered together.

Secretly longing to be lost in the woods again.

That’s why society will always need those people.

Staying where we once were.

A constant reminder that societies exist for no other reason,

Than to remind us that there is no reason for them to exist…

Komodo. Staying home.

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Komodo dragons live on a handful of islands in Indonesia, but their reputation has spread far and wide. Reaching lengths of up to 10 feet, the razor-toothed monitor lizards hunt deer in packs and have even attacked humans on occasion. But actually, they are real homebodies, according to a study published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

A decade of observations at 10 sites on four islands has revealed that the dragons essentially never leave the valley where they were born. It’s not that they can’t. They are capable of traveling many miles and through rough terrain, if necessary. They just don’t seem to feel like it.

“They stay put almost irrespective of how bad it gets,” Dr. Jessop said. “It’s a bit bewildering. […] Really what they’re trying to do, is not rock the boat”. (1)

We humans on the other hand, we like to travel.

To see new places, to do new things.

Because we always want more.

We are never satisfied with what we have.

More knowledge.

More power.

More experience.

Those lizards can stay home. We will go to the stars!

Powerful! Clever! Masters of the universe!

And yet, upon reaching the boundaries of the cosmos…

We will still be miserable in our quest for more…

Having everything and still naming it nothing…

The planet is empty now.

We have left long ago.

Traveling into the void.

Back on Earth.

A lizard still remains.

Alone.

Inside a house.

Long away from home.

A picture on the floor.

With me on it.

Smiling…

Spreading bad ideas.

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How ideas move through academia may depend on where those ideas come from – whether from big-name universities or less prestigious institutions – as much as their quality, a recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests.

The new research borrows a page from epidemiology, exploring how ideas might flow from university to university, almost like a disease. The findings from CU Boulder’s Allison Morgan and her colleagues suggest that the way that universities hire new faculty members may give elite schools an edge in spreading their research to others.

In particular, the team simulated how ideas might spread out faster from highly-ranked schools than from those at the bottom of the pile — even when the ideas weren’t that good. The results suggest that academia may not function like the meritocracy that some claim, said Morgan, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science. (1)

Science progresses. But still, the more we discover the more we realize that what we know is void of any meaning. Once upon a time we used to believe we will prove everything. Then came Gödel. And we forgot about him. Now we still believe that what we say – regardless of whether it is proved or not – is related to reality per se. And yet, philosophy has for a long time clarified that any assertion related to ‘reality’ is a very dangerous one.

Humbleness was always correlated with wisdom. But today’s society has discarded that trait as a mark of weakness. And yet, it is only the strong ones which admit that they are the weakest of them all. Our world is full of people who speak loudly and yet they know nothing. And the humble wise men who once roamed the cities, have now left for the desert.

LISTEN TO ME!

I KNOW WHAT I AM SAYING!

(And that is why I don’t… Shhhhhh…)