a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Thoughts on a woodchuck and a hero on a day when I’m worn out reading the headlines

Posted on the July 15th, 2010

It’s a thought-provoking film, The Book of Eli (Codice Genesis), not least because the reality of a bumbling human race reducing our planet to a barren, burnt out brown, sparsely populated, primitively violent place seems less and less a fantasy with every passing decade. Just my opinion on bleaker news days.

So while watching Denzel Washington in Eli, for me it didn’t feel so much like escapist entertainment as a crystal ball glimpse into a looming, dark prospect.

This reaction stayed with me for some time after we watched the movie. In this shadowy mood, my mind reached for a little light. Possibilities?

Maybe human species progress is best viewed through a prism more akin to geologic time than through the stopwatch of a few centuries, relatively speaking, with which we’ve been recording our history.

Maybe the life force ruthlessly will push us to keep doing the thing until we get it right. Push us even to the point of destroying us unless we can learn to live in harmony with all of life, rather than inevitably falling victim to the bully’s will to power that plagues us to this day (see Gaia, for example). So, again and again and again and again, we may have to start over. We may have to wake up to the same day and same potential for something more intelligent and worthy of us, wake up and do this repeatedly until we learn to write a new plotline.

Call me odd, but this reflection made me feel a little more hopeful (in a grim sort of way). About something. Something that I don’t grasp well or see clearly or even truly believe is there, I confess. If it’s really a matter of geologic time, though, then such myopic vision is unavoidable. just about the best we can do at this point.

And the desperately Pollyanna among us persist in imagining that we can not only create nightmares, but also dreams.

Yes, I know, this is all thin whistling in the dark.

Eli also reminded me of another movie, though with a lighter color palate, of a few years back — Groundhog Day.

Reader Comments (1) - Comments are closed
  1. Sam said, on July 15th, 2010 at 11:25 am

    This is an interesting movie in a science fiction kind of way as an analog, moral and social. It has some of the western genre about it with a ghetto twist; sort of a Clint Eastwood super gunslinger with some modern big action hero thrown in. I would have liked to have seen about twenty more minutes of additional development and complexity in the story to make the point that the struggle between good and evil is not just raw greed and power vs altruism and enlightenment. Some times, perhaps most of the time, there is a high level of true believer on the evil side of the equation as well as on the goodness side. The zeal of “Righteousness” — especially where coupled with fear — can trample and destroy just as effectively, perhaps even more so, than greed and lust for power without the immediateness of person to person empathy. This movie, to the extent that it has a point of view, leaves room for that if one looks at the book shelf near the end where are shelved the books of the great religions. The point is that these are instruments of power to any end they may be put, including the destroyer of worlds or the builders and saviors of worlds. The point made is that for all their deficiencies, the alternative of nothing at all, a return to a state of nature, as Thomas Hobbes wrote about in Leviathan, where there is no order maker, has its problems, as well. The overriding factor is that the core of evil is a deficiency of empathy. This is facilitated by putting distance between the decision maker and the implementer. Systems of social order create this distance. Of course, though, it is more complicated than just that.