AVATAR: Winning the Golden Globe award not withstanding….

My thoughts on Cameron’s Avatar:

A lost opportunity recovered.
January 10, 2010
James Cameron, Writer/Director

Jim,

I viewed AVATAR last week and found it a towering technological accomplishment. The plants and landscapes are stunningly beautiful. The research and imagination of the beasts is most impressive. The acting was excellent and convincing. The online interviews indicated your remarkable commitment and integrity.

You fell down, however, by delivering a predictable plot that missed a great opportunity to offer hope to your audience of Earthians who are on the verge of REALLY losing their planet’s vitality and ability to support many life forms and life styles as we know them. This is in part because of our focus on using force and building ever more sophisticated weapons and weapon delivery systems.
With your personal brand recognition and popularity, you have a unique opportunity to deliver enlightened insights to an eager audience. Instead, you have given us a space-western. In this one, it’s not the Indians relegated to a trail of tears, but the corporate and military invaders.

I understand that Dances with Wolves was one of your references. DWW was effective in presenting a comprehensive view into a rich, but unknown culture, as well as the narrow mindedness and barbarism of our average-American military forces. The ending, offered a dim glimmer of hope amid impending doom.

At the beginning of the sequel, perhaps Eywa the Pandoran mother goddess recognized and relates to Gaia, mother goddess of Earth as she is experienced in the spirit of Grace Augustine.

The Spirits Eywa/Grace/Gaia visit the evacuation scene. They inspires compassion and a blossoming of understanding among the Na’vi and an openness among the Earthians to learn from the Na’vi.
What was not know of the Earthians is that they are desperately seeking a new home. The sequel is titled: THE REVENGE OF GAIA*. Gaia, the living earth, has been reacting vengefully to all of the destructive activities of humans over the past 2 centuries.

On EarthDay, 2110 shamans from around the world simultaneously have the same vision, like a live news report: Along with oceans and temperatures rising, beetles begin attacking not trees, but wooden structures in the major cities, sharks are aggressively threatening anyone foolish enough to venture into the water, flocks of birds are descending on the fields and devastating food crops. Pods of whales surround diminished fish species and attack fishing ships. Groups of whales rise powerfully from the depths and capsize giant floating fishing factories.

Earthquakes have torn up and mangled major bridges. Hurricanes and tsunami waves are destroying both inland and coastal communities. Disease vectors that were under control are mutating and wiping out hospital populations. Something is in the air. Toxic dust from industrial farming is poisoning both country and city dwellers. Big dams are collapsing under surging forces, flooding populated valleys and returning them to their water-filled origins. Pockets of carbon monoxide are collecting along roadways instead of dispersing, creating a deadly fog. The visions are different for each shaman, reflecting their specific region. Pieced together, like a jigsaw puzzle, they patch together a picture of a horrific apocalypse.

It seems as though the earth is on the offense after centuries of abuse by humans.

The vision is of Gaia no longer gently supporting mankind with a dependable homeostasis. She appears to be bent on eliminating a species that has become, like a virus, wreaking damage on the earth’s complex life support systems.

The very winds are making ominous sounds. Some can perceive a voice, rather like a woman in pain and rage. Forced by the media, world leaders are listening and, chaotically, moving into action.

Is it possible to deal with this projection of Gaia’s revenge? Scientists, academicians and political leaders are meeting all over the world. Archeologists and historians can find nothing in man’s past that relates to this crisis. They are even reaching out to the few remaining leaders of ingenious peoples they can find, as well as spiritual leaders, worldwide. Many of the indigenous leaders have anticipated this response to human abuse and exploitation of Gaia’s beneficence.

*The title is adopted from a book by James Lovelock, the British Scientist who, in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, observed Earth to be a living megasystem, comprised of a multitude of lesser systems. From Wikipedia: The Gaia hypothesis is an ecological hypothesis proposing that the biosphere and the physical components of the Earth (atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere) are closely integrated to form a complex interacting system that maintains the climatic and biogeochemical conditions on Earth in a preferred homeostasis. Originally proposed by James Lovelock as the earth feedback hypothesis,[1] it was named the Gaia Hypothesis after the Greek supreme goddess of Earth.[2] The hypothesis is frequently described as viewing the Earth as a single organism. Lovelock and other supporters of the idea now call it Gaia theory, regarding it as a scientific theory and not mere hypothesis, since they believe it has passed predictive tests

Back on Pandora, as the invaders are making their exodus, a new Earthian leader, Athena, comes forward. Grasping the entire circumstance she is able to inspire an awaking conversion and a beginning cognition that they also are one with the living system on their own planet, as much as the Na’vi are on Pandora and our own Neolithic ancestors were, many thousands of years ago on Earth. The Earthians observe the inherent wisdom of the Na’vi and their intimate linkage to their moon…as well the parallels to their own ancestors on Earth.
They endeavor, with great intensity, to learn from the Na’vi. One of the Na’vi, in acknowledgement of the strength and leadership of Colonel Quaritch shares his physical body with the spirit. Before the merger can be consummated, Quaritch undergoes a process in isolation in a clearing, something like an exorcism, performed by Pandoran spirits.

A glorious pyrotechnical show is created by sending all of their munitions to explode above their moon.

Your challenge is to write a new script of hope and possibility. I acknowledge that it is much harder to invent a compelling (and mass marketable) story of how these two species bridge their differences and share their best learnings for the benefit of all.

What good is unobtanium? Perhaps a fuel for space travel? How do they work together to restore and perhaps improve the living shelters on Pandora? The Na’vi help obtain unobtainium and share it with the Earthians. They build a bridge of communications between two space civilizations.

A very serious challenge is how to reconcile technology of a neolithic culture, living in harmony with it’s lunar life support system with a highly mechanized technological system that has exploited the vitality of it’s planetary life support system.

What is urgent for the human species here on Earth is to initiate and explore paths to a higher consciousness rather than trod again on the warn paths that appeal to and feed our reptilian brains. Our survival as a species on Earth is dependent on our learning to respect and live in harmony with the living Earth – GAIA.

One challenging confrontation would be the return to Earth. Upon return, their ship lands amidst interminable waring in the middle east, with ambient temperatures of 1400 F. How do they bring their enlightened vision to suicide bombers who rigorously maintain a 7th century worldview in the 22nd Century? The expedition team has destroyed all of their weapons. And, having spent time in the Pandoran environment and eating there, they have mutated. They have a blue tinge to their skin color. Fortunately, they retained their ability to negotiate Earth’s environment.

Jake and Neytiri are among them. Jake had described the miserable state of Earth’s forests and oceans. With guidance from Eywa, Neytiri collects seeds and spores to bring some of the Pandoran forms of flora and help restore balance of life forces of sister Gaia.

Neytiri is enthused by the beauty and wonder of the oceans and their myriad creatures and wants to work in them. They discover that the high level of toxicity of the oceans is especially hazardous to Pandoran lifeforms, unused to their extreme levels of man-made chemicals.

With Neytiri’s influence, another woman from the expedition comes forward. Al-‘Uzzá, named for an Islamic goddess, is able to intuit and anticipate plots by the tribal leaders. The enlightened ones create a holographic learning environment that bridges and integrates the richness of the 7th century culture, a living Earth, the oneness of life sustained by Earth, and a technological culture of the 22nd Century, and the spirit and essence of Pandora. Subsequently, the energies expended on centuries old hostilities are being joined with a global effort for survival of humanity in the context of Gaia’s hostility.

In addition, a group of 6 Pandorans, interested in discovering Jake’s planet and it’s technologies, join the crew. They provide some light moments. They encounter and ride horses by leaping on them from overhead as they gallop by. They have another experience attempting to leap onto a historic Segway personal transport. After a game to see who could toss more ice cream scoops into a partner’s mouth, they speculate how they can bring ice cream back to Pandora and infuse it with their own familiar tastes. They also visit a major zoo and are disturbed to discover that these are the very last of their species.
Intro to second sequel. How do the Earthians manage their confrontation with Gaia? Using unobtainum as fuel, where in the universe will Jake and Neytiri venture to promote peace and understanding?

Oh. And I envision a whole new way for gamers to interact.

© Marv Lyons 2010, San Diego, CA

Haiti is Us..

The following is borrowed from Public Citizen. I fully concur. With one caveat.
Haiti is closer to home that SouthEast Asia, also recently struck by natural disasters. Be prepared for more devastating natural event… closer to home.

The tragedy in Haiti is a horror beyond words.

Disaster relief is outside our scope of work at Public Citizen, but this is a time when we all must come together to care for our fellow women, men and children. People are dying and suffering from a lack of basic medical supplies, food and clean water. The best way to address these needs in the short term is to send funds to organizations that can deliver this kind of aid.

There are many excellent organizations doing humanitarian work. If you are considering making a Haiti-related donation, you might consider these three organizations:

Doctors Without Borders
http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

Partners in Health
http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti

Fonkoze
http://www.fonkoze.org/

Amidst this natural disaster, there has been a lot of commentary and discussion in the media about the long-standing, human-made troubles in Haiti. Some of this commentary is mean-spirited, but even much well-intentioned commentary too easily slips into blaming the people of Haiti for the oppressive systems under which they have suffered. As Randall Robinson, the founder of the TransAfrica Forum correctly says, “Haiti’s misery is largely not of its own making.”

If you are inclined at this time of tragedy to seek a broader perspective on Haiti’s history, you may wish to consult these resources:

An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
Randall Robinson
Basic Civitas Books, 2008

The Uses of Haiti
Paul Farmer
Common Courage Press, 2005

Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance
Beverly Bell
Cornell University Press, 2001

For a just and compassionate world,

Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

Phoenix Rising…new possibilities

And if we decided that this was the beginning of 202010?

In my previous blog, I considered acknowledging the earliest moments of our unique species dated at 200,000 years ago and the coincidence of the our contemporary process of reckoning time by dating our cycles around our sun, beginning with the reported birth of a human being about 2010 years ago.

Again, consider the perspective of a living Earth, and her history: an earlier group of creatures we have named dinosaurs lived for over 160 million years. In spite of their longevity, they apparently did not evolve much intelligence or consciousness.

Over her billions of years, Earth has evolved from an inanimate hot rock to an extraordinary network of living species and systems of a complexity unlike anything our most powerful telescopic observations can find in a mind bogglingly vast universe.

So, here we are. We have called ourselves homo sapiens, wise and conscious beings. It would appear that our brain/mind and motility are an expression of an ever more sophisticated living system. We are in the process of getting to know ourselves and our mother Earth better, and of understanding our dependence on the source of every tangible thing within our life experience. We may be the first species to be conscious and moved by Earth’s ineffable beauty and wonder. And, of course, we are the first species to exploit, poison and lay waste to great regions of Earth.

Theologians have said that GOD created man in his own image. Scholars have said that man created god in his own image. Again consider: as the human species has evolved over the last 200,000 years, we have become progressively closer to those attributes we have ascribed to god.

We are today at a crossroads. The human psyche appears to encompass the extremes of both a vicious reptilian brain and an angelic capability for love and grace. And, it would seem, we are the first species to be aware of its own attributes and have the ability to make a conscious decision, to make a choice, unfettered by a rigid in-built program.

Understanding that it is the business of a life form to preserve itself, who must we be? Who must we become to maintain and flourish?

My friend, Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris, an Evolution Biologist, observes that we are a species in our adolescence.

What can we do, what can you do to begin living in harmony and grace with our most generous mother Earth, each other, and all of the other creatures and plants that are integral parts of our life?

What will it take to emulate our vision, to mature to a stature of demigod? The dinosaurs couldn’t do it in 160 million years. We have come quite a way in our 200,000 years. Among other things, we have learned that progress and success are the result of cooperation, not hostile competition.

Can we evolve to a species that can thrive for many thousands of years — or will we self destruct?

My vision is that we become those wise and benevolent creatures that we have fanticized from other galaxies and return our home planet to an Eden before we adventure where no man has gone before.

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