Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Monday, January 11, 2010


When I first learned that James Cameron was working on a cutting-edge technology epic involving human interaction with a sapient species on another planet, I imagined a 21st century “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” genre masterpiece. Avatar is a cinematic and experiential triumph. I had no problems with the 3-D glasses and my wife, concerned at first, fared well wearing them over her regular glasses.

Avatar delivers the expected cinematic spectacle. The driving plot behind the epic is, well, less than epic. The story line is a politically correct, clich├ęd, mix of stale plot elements from numerous films such “Dances With Wolves” and the “Terminators.” In a nut-shell, a nefarious mining firm from Earth is drooling to uproot and pillage the land beneath the indigenous sapient population on planet Pandora. Mining security forces are Marines on the prowl for more targets. Evil, greedy, mining boss begins a countdown for the Na’vi (as the indigenous are referred when not called “hostiles”) to vacate or perish. Somehow Eighteenth century early industrial age vigor survived four centuries to resume it’s lug-head energy on pristine Pandora. Sorry, that’s a hard sell for this viewer.

To the potential rescue is a paralyzed Marine, Sam Worthington, who is drafted into the Avatar program guided by Sigourney Weaver. The Avatar program merges human consciousness with cloned human/Na’vi forms. The Avatars hope to mingle with the natives as diplomats. Spinal cord inured Worthington relishes his time in/as Avatar and becomes more Na’vi than human. That’s a good scenario looking for a stellar story.

Sadly, it's not this one. Our protocol for extra-terrestrial explorations include sending sterile craft. We don't wish to contaminate another body, whether moon, Mars, asteroid, etc. That kind of consideration, given two hundred years to evolve, would not result in the handling of Pandora as depicted. And what's with the mining? What we’re learning regarding universal energy will make today’s power sources as primitive as enslaved muscles were to the steam engine two hundred years ago.  In Avatar, the humans aren't believable two hundred years hence.

Avatar excels in creating the experience of Pandora, an earth-like planet orbiting a Jovian type planet in the Alpha Centauri system. It is truly awesome - other worldly yet recognizable. ET went home and it’s gorgeous. A few insects, of course, but floating mountains (when you orbit a Jupiter like body, there’s got to be some curious forces at play) and glowing plants and the Eywa presence (the Force be with you.) It’s dream like. The Na’vi are ten foot tall feline favored sapiens and totally believable. Cameron has produced genuine alien talent. If only the story were as fresh and daring as the technology and created world.

The wonder of Avatar gets an A+. The driving story line doesn’t equal the characters and location and gets a C-.

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