Light vs. Dark

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield” ― W.B. Yeats

Its the age old question: which came first? Light or Dark?

According to many religious texts, dark holds sway before light comes to banish it. Science teaches that in the beginning there was nothing, and then the big bang. And both points of view tell us that we a re moving toward yet another period of darkness, the black void of entropy. From ancient times we hear the woeful cry: Nothing lasts forever. All things come to an end.

And if the darkness does swallow everything once again… will light return?

Human nature or arrogance would scream, yes it will! Because we desperately want there to be light, for a triumph over the dark. The absence of light has been our nemesis from the moment we understood it. We rejoiced in the daylight, retreated to caves in corners to hide from those things that lurked in the blackness. We discovered fire and built giant pyres to hold the night at bay.

We craved energy to push the dark back as far as we could… until now, major cities pollute the night with light.

The eternal struggle isn’t really about light vs. dark. That’s an anthropomorphism, because like a great many things in the natural world – light and dark don’t give a shit about humankind. We just another annoyance, something momentary or fleeting… like the mayfly, very soon our 24-hour reign will be over, making way for the next dominant life form. At least that is what the cynic in me says.

The creative part of me, the dominant part – raises my voice with countless others – raging against the dying of the light.

interstellarI recently saw Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and to be honest, was underwhelmed. The film makes a great point of using Dylan Thomas’s poem to hammer home the point that it is our responsibility to rage, fight and claw our way toward the light, toward life. Because, as we all know, only Mankind matters.

I thought it was beautifully shot. The visuals were very pleasing and though a lot of the science that went into providing the framework was only casually addressed (all of the characters are super smart, they all read equations and formulas as though they were chewing gum instructions and immediately grok quantum physics problems with the blink of an eye.) you get the impression that everything that was shown in the film was thoroughly researched and can be proven as something that can and most likely will happen.

I like Matthew McConaughey as an actor. He has an ease and charm and a genuine ‘good ol’ boy’ flair. Plus, he can laugh at himself. His character in the movie was flat and pretty two-dimensional, in my opinion. When we first meet him, he’s a bitter, disillusioned ex-astronaut farmer. Right away its established he’s the smartest guy around. And his real beef with the world is that he’s good enough, he’s smart enough and gosh darn it, if life didn’t just crap all over him. I think this was meant to show him as an everyman – instead it gave him an air of “of course I’m special and dammit something special is going to happen, just wait”.

And of course, it does, because he’s the MC.

Anyway, not going to giveaway details – you’ll have to see the movie yourself.

But I will say this – I found the ending (both of them) to be contrived and less than satisfying. The first ending kind of plays upon a hokey sci-fi trope and the second ending is just tacked on Hollywood sugarcoating, because we can’t have a mainstream movie that is void of a romantic relationship.

But then again that’s just the cynic in me… the storyteller in me, the creative in me – felt that I was cheated by a mediocre story masquerading as something that was supposed to be meaningful.

For me, the real heart of the film is the father-daughter relationship – not the ‘save-the-world’ premise. All the sci-fi aspects, the space scenes, the playing with time, all of that which makes up the meat of the movie is all just so much ‘all for nothing’ because of the deus ex machina element used in the last minutes of the film.

And I guess that’s what irks me about it – because there’s all this convoluted junk surrounding a simple, poignant and wonderful tale about a girl and her Dad.

But that’s just my take. I’ve read other people’s thoughts and some are hailing it as a masterpiece. To each his own.

I enjoyed it, it made me think… but it just left me feeling … meh.

In the category of light vs. dark, its going to end up being just another man triumphs over all the odds, because the universe cannot exist without him. Which for me makes it very light, and not enough dark.

Because I think we need the dark.

We need to know that the dark is closing in and that the dark will cover us all, despite how much we rage. It’s the raging that’s important – not the inevitable ending.

If all stories end with the triumph of the light, we fool ourselves… we foster a false sense of of security.  Everything will be alright in in the end, because there is no end. There will always be Light. Even though the evidence suggests at some point in the future, there won’t be.

I like the idea that light and dark are cyclical, and the notion that at the end of time, when darkness has finally returned and consumed all… that there will be another flash, another Big Bang. And that the Light will once more rage and push back the dark.

I like that image. Because I’m human. 🙂


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