BSG – thoughts on the final episode

I wasn’t fond of Baltar’s soliloquy about god; it’s not that I disagreed, per se, I just didn’t think it was necessary to make it all explicit. Anyone who’s watched the show should have already been able to see what the show’s creators were trying to say, that god is inherently unknowable and it is ridiculous to get into a dick swinging match about whether your beliefs or someone else’s beliefs are uniquely correct. So I thought it was overkill to come right out and say it. On the other hand, someone pointed out to me that this scene could be viewed as Baltar’s redemption for his original sin. I’m still mulling that over. I thought his redemption came later in the show, on earth, when he told Caprica 6 that he knew a little about farming (from his father) and then started crying. But maybe that’s just because I have my own kettle full of father issues.

I have mixed feelings about the fleet’s decision to abandon all of their advanced technology and start from scratch on the new earth they found. On one hand, the series has been building towards that decision and arguing for it from the start; there was always a theme about the dangers of technology, that it is folly to think that our clever devices will save us. I have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. On the other hand, could such a tremendous decision really be made without any sort of discussion and argument? Did no one object? The way that decision was made and played out just didn’t seem realistic to me. Maybe a more interesting question, though, is whether I agreed with the decision. To which I say, well… sort of. There is definitely a strong anti-technological bent to my thinking. But if push came to shove, I really doubt I would be willing to walk away from all the tech and gadgetry. Most of it, yes. 99%, probably. But not all. Creative use of tools is part of what makes us human. So in that sense, I found the show’s conclusion unrealistic and unfulfilling.

This is sort of a dull blog entry… sorry. I thought I’d have more to say.

Battlestar Galactica – penultimate episode

So, Adama has changed his mind, and he and his crew of volunteers (both human and cylon) are going to jump into the lion’s den to try to save little kidnapped Hera after all. I like this. What an essentially human thing to do – risk the lives of many for the good of one. Courageous, irrational, hopeless, sacrificial. I know there’s a bigger explanation given in the context of the show, but what I keep coming back to is many for one. This really highlights the difference between man and machine, which obviously has been a theme throughout the show. We can make decisions for emotional reasons rather than rational ones. We do this all the time. Actually, I have a theory that emotion is the driving force behind essentially all of our decisions; rationality and logic are thin veneers that we apply after the fact to keep ourselves from feeling vulnerable or foolish. The world becomes much softer and more plastic when one starts to look at it this way.

I am both looking forward to and dreading the final episode tomorrow night. There has been a lot of food for thought in this programme.

East meets West

Three things:

  • After teaching class on Tuesday, I had the Buddhist chant “Gate, gate, paragate” stuck in my head (which is weird, because I didn’t play it or chant it during class). “Gone, gone, gone beyond.” Later in the week, I was listening to the Wizard of Oz soundtrack, and I had the out of the blue revelation that when Dorothy sings “Somewhere over the rainbow,” she’s expressing much the same sentiment. Or is she? She wants escape; absolute anathema from the point of view of the middle-way; but what she ultimately discovers is that if she can’t find what she wants right where she is, she’s not going to find it anywhere. The value of her fantastic travels is that they allow her to experience and value home differently (something I reflected on in Guatemala last summer). H’mmm. Buddhist perspectives on American show tunes. If I still had any inclination towards the upper echelons of academia, I think this would be a gold mine thesis title.
  • Another realization from this past week: The weird otherworldly vocals in the beginning of Battlestar Galactica? Sanskrit. It’s a Sanskrit chant. I recognized one of the words, then I remembered which chant I knew it from, then I recognized the rest of the chant, and then… well, then my head pretty much exploded. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. It’s the Gayatri mantra. In English: “The dawn, the day, and the dusk, those three most excellent daughters of the Sun, the radiant forms coming from the Gods, I meditate upon you and reach out to you. That is my offering.” I am ridiculously, overwhelmingly, embarrassingly pleased with myself for recognizing this.
  • I participated in an “Eye of the Tiger” Anusara yoga practice last night; two and a half hours of asana. We started with twenty six sun salutations. It was WONDERFUL. I haven’t worked that hard in a long, long time. My only disappointment was that the teacher didn’t play the Survivor song at any point in the practice.

Ski lift

Warning: this post is yet another in my series of mopey, maudlin, self-pitying diatribes.

A few months ago, my brother was shooting a wedding at the summit of Hunter Mountain (with his camera, I mean). I talked to him beforehand, and he told me that he was so scared about riding the ski lift to the top that he almost wanted to just jump off. As a preemptive strike against falling off. I’ve kind of felt the same way lately; not about any specific thing in my life, but generally. Things are going well – very well, actually – but all I can think about is the omnipresent possibility of calamity, and it’s making me crazy.  I think maybe I always get this way at this time of year; maybe I need more sunlight or exercise or something.

I’ve been seeking solace through the usual sources:  yoga, friends, books, music.  I finally completed the playlist that I started working on years ago, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop.  Cathartic.  I remember asking my therapist once years ago if it’s okay to cry when you don’t know why you’re crying.  She said it was.  So, I guess I’ve got that going for me.

I went for a massage about a week ago – my first ever.  I felt calmer afterwards than I remember ever feeling before.  Probably should make that a more regular event in my life.

Anyway, new episodes of BSG start on Friday, so I have that to look forward to (even if I kind of think they should have ended it with the last episode that aired last spring).

words in passing

Last week’s episode of Canadia 2056 was incredibly dull. I think the writers are running out of ideas (and honestly, the premise was pretty weak from the start). Good episode of Battlestar Galactica (aka Battlenerd Galactigeek) on Friday, though. The religious and heady (yet vital) philosophical themes in well written science fiction make me think that sci-fi is really coming of age. But then I see a few minutes of the impossibly bad programme Doctor Who, and I’m back to thinking that sci-fi is still largely the domain of rubbery monsters, bad acting, explosions, and unnecessarily dramatic music. Honestly, I’m embarrassed to call myself a geek sometimes. Sometimes.

Anyway… for the past few months, Friday nights have found me at a friend’s house watching BSG. Usually, I arrive early, and we spend some time talking about yoga, mindfulness, being present, &c. We draw from a common vocabulary about such things that is largely lifted from Buddhism and Tantra, but these are not academic discussions. They are grounded in a desire to make sense of our experiences. Saturday mornings, on the other hand, I usually spend in a coffee shop, working on yoga homework. Rather, trying to work on yoga homework. Mostly I seem to get distracted by snippets of the most inane conversations imaginable. A few months ago, I listened to two “men” talk for over an hour about fights they had been in. Street fights. Bar room brawls. They were comparing notes. WTF?

Recap. Friday night: meaning of life, spirituality, what does it mean to be human, blah blah blah. Saturday morning: Dumb and Dumber shooting the bull about people they’ve beat up. Am I being overly snobbish about the stupidity of other people’s conversations? I would probably have found this conversation absolutely hilarious/ridiculous/fascinating if it hadn’t distracted me from what I was working on.

It makes me wonder what people say about the conversations that they overhear me having… maybe I’m just as bad in my own way. I’m sure there’s someone in New Paltz who thinks of me as that obnoxious prick who’s always going on about secular humanism.