Sunday, August 22, 2004

Un-Reasonable Movie Adventures

I watched "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" one of marvelously creative and uproariously funny products of the incredibly fertile brain of Writer/Director/Filmaker Terry Gilliam.

I don't know why, but I guess I have never really watched this entire movie. I found it not only hilarious, but philosophically interesting. The most worthy Jonathan Pryce plays The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson, the ultimate Straight-Man, a man for pure REASON. This is (18th century) the Age of Reason. In the film, Reason is taken to the extreme. And as with all things taken to the extreme, the faults are made plain. To the point that in the initial scene where his character is first introduced to the audience, he orders a war-hero, known for deeds of great heroism and ferociousness, put to death, as his heroics would put 'normal hard working folk' ill-at-ease in attempting to live their "ordinary lives." He proceeds to demand, order, cajole, wheedle, whine and tantrum to accomplish his "reasonable" wishes. At one point he argues that the Turks holding the city under siege should surrender "because we surrendered last time..." Sounds reasonable, no?

The fascinating aspect of this is not just the imbecilic attitude of Horatio as quintessential bureaucratic statist. Though, for that alone it deserves more attention than the moniker "Fantasy" has brought this film.

It is in the attitude of Horatio and men of his "reasonable" ilk have toward the "fantastic" Baron.

In one way the Enlightenment was truly an Age of unbelievable promise and hope. That the world could be studied and measured and through these studies, understood.

And, indeed, we have accomplished more than the original "Natural Philosophers" could have imagined in their wildest dreams.

But in the process, we have lost our sense of wonder. We have seen below the very fabric of the material world, down to the Micro where Quarks react to our very observations. We have measured the very distance to the stars of the heavens, out to the Macro that allows us to discuss the expansion of space of entire Galaxies.

And yet we do not see pattern as evidence of Creator.

The originators of The Calculus saw in the movement of planets the very hand of God.

We see vectors and inverse-square relationships of Gravitational pulls.

It is as if knowing the dimensions of your television set and the ability to turn it on and navigate through the hundreds of channels offering nothing worth your viewing time is the same as understanding the underlying Engineering required to produce a working video-receiving apparatus. This if, of course, ridiculous. Realizing that there is obviously a pattern of intention, we realize that there is a creative force that conceived and built the electronic apparatus. We would scoff at anyone who indicated the process consisted of taking random components, placing them in a box, closing said box and shaking it until a fully formed cable-ready device was assembled by random movement.

Yet, when we are presented with what amounts to the same random event hypothesis to explain life itself, we accept it as SCIENTIFIC FACT.

Does this seem reasonable?


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