"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

On Intelligence

"If anyone thinks they're going to change the world by appealing to the morality of human beings, they're not going to get very far.  Human beings are not very moral." - Paul Watson

I watched Limitless and Eco-Pirate, both about reaching beyond typical human potential, then had a horrifying apocalyptical dream.  In the dream, everyone in the region had to meet in a large forested area on Tuesday.  I was curious about the purpose.  I thought it had something to do with the new food rationing system, something that made me very nervous because we were already so hungry.  But one woman, who was high up in whatever organization was running things, told me we were all going to kill ourselves at once to decrease the surplus population.  Our region had been chosen, and it was our duty to comply.  I spent the rest of the dream trying to organize my kids and their friends for an escape - and wondering how we had let everything go so wrong, how we had stopped being able to produce enough food so that mass suicide was the only option left.

I think I'm a little stressed-out about the state of the world.

Limitless is about a drug that lets people use more of their brain; it seems to allow for better retrieval of information, so people can remember the tiniest detail and immediately connect all the details together.  It also makes your eyes really bright so the audience can tell when you're on it and when it's wearing off.  The main character uses it to get rich.  Of course a variety of people are after him for different reasons, and the drug has some serious side-effects.  And of course the drug is used entirely for selfish reasons.  But it's an interesting premise with clear nods to Charly (based on the book Flowers for Algernon).

If a drug helps you think more clearly, is it still really you?  Or do drugs create an artificial self?  When someone's drunk, it's still them underneath likely making some stupid choices, yet we make some allowances for them.  But when someone's on Ritalin, we sometimes think of them as being a clearer version of themselves.  If someone can finally sit still through an entire movie, then we generally don't complain that they're not their true selves anymore.  Curious.

And if everyone's on the drug, then we're still in the same competition, but at a different level.  You still have to be smart to begin with in order for the drug to help enhance your smarts.  If you never read a paper in your life, you won't be able to suddenly make startling connections between world events once the drug allows you to access all that information smoothly.  It's not effortless, it just makes the effort more worthwhile.  But if we all did it, I think we'd just have larger problems, not any fewer.

And if we could get a drug like that, would anyone work on environmental problems, or, with a little taste of wealth and fame, would we get sucked down that road even further?  Can we override our own selfish instincts, our violent instincts, to solve the crisis we're in?  Because really, if the oceans die, we all die.  So if you're the smartest person in the world, wouldn't that be the first issue you'd want to to tackle?  It seems a little short-sighted to focus on making money on the market when your future is in peril.  But that's just the spin I tend to put on everything.

Paul Watson, the subject of Eco-Pirate, would be one of the few who doesn't act for wealth or fame.  I can't imagine what more he'd could do with an even more focused brain, though.      

After showing The Cove in class yesterday, Eco-Pirate reinforced the claims that many politicians know what's happening and really don't care.  They make way too much money from the corruption in the oceans to want to stop it from happening.  Sharkwater completes the trifecta.

Eco-Pirate is a very balanced view of the Canadian vigilante Paul Watson who compares pacifist activism to more aggressive activism and comes solidly on the latter side.  According to Watson, if we passively watch violence and just ask nicely for people to please stop or just try to educate them with little effect, then we're guilty of the violence being done as well.  We can only enable social reform with violence against corruption.  Education helps the ignorant, but only acts of aggression can counter the corrupt.  See more about the Sea Shepherd here.    

Both are exciting adventure films challenging human potential:  for personal pleasure, or the prevention of harm.  The question is: is it most intelligent to be all that we can be if it's only for our own benefit?


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