Friday, June 15, 2012

What does 10.11.12 mean?

David the android on the left; the titan Prometheus as sculpted by an artist on the right. I thought
that this was a neat comparison of the two and obviously done on purpose by Ridley Scott.
First off, Cally Jackson put me in the Hot Seat over at her blog today so if you have the time, please go check it out HERE.

In case you are wondering, this is a Prometheus movie post. I apologize to Patrick Dilloway who thinks I talk too much about this movie, but I simply need to get these thoughts out of my head. I will be talking about some things that you could have an opinion about without having seen the film. However, I might "spoil" one or two minor things about the film in an attempt to answer questions that have plagued me for a week now. If you choose to comment, I would appreciate intelligent feedback aimed at the topic I will bring up instead of some smartass snarky thing (glares at Mr. Dilloway).
If you stayed through the end credits of Prometheus, you were greeted with the next stage of Ridley Scott’s elaborate tale. You caught a date – 10.11.12 – and a link to the Weyland Industries timeline. When you scroll down to that date, it reads:
WEYLAND INCORPORATES
Weyland Corporation is recognized as a legal entity and corporation under United States law and receives their Certificate of Incorporation from the Companies House in the United Kingdom. Due to the combined value of Sir Peter Weyland’s various patents and patent-pendings, the company incorporates with a higher fair market valuation than any other company in history.
OCTOBER 11, 2012
There’s a small flag to click on that links you to - http://www.whatis101112.com/ - where you’ll find a new video and book. Each “stage” will be revealed through the various modules.
Sir Peter Weyland
And then there's a new viral video...presumably Mr. Weyland prior to his TED talk which I discussed in this post HERE. The website if you check it out, features a 3D version of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's work Thus Spake Zarathustra which in summary contains a parable on the death of God and the prophecy of the Übermensch (a super human).

Now it has been a long time since I read Nietzsche, but I dusted off my copy of this book and turned to section X of the work and this is what I found:
"Your highest thought, however, ye shall have it commanded unto you by me--man is something that is to be surpassed...live your life of war! What matter about long life! What warrior wisheth to be spared! I spare you not...my brethren in war!"
And this next piece is from section XI:
"The state...where all are poison-drinkers...where the slow suicide of all is called life..."
"There where the state ceaseth...do ye not see...the rainbow and the bridges of the superman?"
And finally from section XII seems to be an address to the Übermensch himself:
Nietzsche in the voice of Zarathustra compares humans to biting flies in a marketplace wanting to suck the blood from the super human. He says, "Even when thou art gentle towards them, they still feel themselves despised by thee; and they repay thy beneficence with secret maleficence...They are unworthy of thee. Therefore they hate thee, and would fain suck thy blood."
Okay...so to my points.

This is the sacrificial "engineer" who like Prometheus of the Greek legend
destroys himself to give something powerful to man. The container holds poison,
but in his death comes life.
1) At the beginning of the movie, we see an alien who could possibly be seen as a super human drinking poison. It slowly kills him and from that presumably springs all life on earth. I'm thinking that Ridley Scott is tipping his hat to Neitzsche in this by stating that the Engineers that created humans had gotten to a point in their evolution that creating life in their own image was the bridge to the next step. In other words, they were becoming gods.
Planet LV-223
2) The directive in section X indicates that man is to be surpassed and that to achieve this requires war. Therefore the Engineers were a war-like race. The planet of LV-223 was found to be a weapon's depot for them.

3) The last passage might serve to explain the motives of the Engineers in wanting to destroy humanity. They believed that even though humans were their children, that humans would secretly grow to hate them and therefore they would eventually need to go to war against them.
Prometheus biological weapons in the Engineer ships
Now to the unanswered questions that have bothered me all week. But first, a few facts for you to consider pulled from the movie:

1) The Engineers created man.
2) All of the bodies on planet LV-223 were two thousand years old. This means they started manufacturing weapons of mass destruction (the bio-matter or black goo) at about that same time.
3) They were headed to Earth, so it's clear that the Engineers wanted to destroy mankind. But it wasn't always this way. They changed their minds 2000 years ago as Shaw clearly points out in her dialogue in the film.

My conjecture:
What event happened 2000 years ago? I got to thinking about this and decided that it would have to have been the birth, life, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But why would that event have caused the Engineers to change their mind about whether humans deserved to live or die?

Perhaps it has to do with the idea that humans didn't recognize the Engineers as their true Creators. Perhaps they were upset that humans could kill a god and therefore, if one god could die then so could they. Or perhaps they believed that the death of Christ deserved to be punished.

So I ask you, is Ridley Scott saying that the motivation for the Engineers to destroy humanity at all related to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? There is no doubt that at the heart of this film is a huge existential question which I never thought to encounter in an "Alien" franchise film.

27 comments:

  1. 10.11.12 is also my 27th birthday! Now that I think of the odd date, which I hadn't noticed until now, I'm trying to think of odd ways to celebrate.

    Anyway,interesting post. I haven't had the chance to see the movie yet, but I plan to.

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  2. If the motivation for the Engineers to destroy humanity ends up at all related to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ then I shall be profoundly disappointed in this movie. To become a true God, then not only do you create life, but you also destroy it. If not, then all you are is a creator, not a God.

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  3. I really must see this movie!!! Then I can contribute more intelligently (then again, maybe I shouldn't count those chickens just yet...haha)

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  4. I think you are right in drawing comparisons between the movie and Nietzsche's writing, that seems intentional on the moviemakers' part, but it's a very literal dramatisation of those ideas. I don't think Freddy meant real supermen took poison to create life, so it becomes a rather pseudo-serious translation of those words.

    It'd be sort of like if I wrote a movie about a guy who wants to be a comedian, and every time he looked out of his window he saw a chicken crossing the road. Wait a minute, I think I just came up with the next Adam Sandler movie.

    mood

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  5. Interesting post. Maybe I'll go see the movie.

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  6. I read somewhere that Scott wanted to put in a scene showing that Jesus was one of the aliens. Glad he didn't as I would've found that highly offensive.
    You'll get a kick out of the video I posted today.

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  7. is it bad that the sacrificial "engineer" looks hotsie to me? :)

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  8. need to see the flick before further comment from me...

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  9. Mike, if you want to go down the German philosophy road I think Nietzsche is a few years early. Since the essential theme of the film is life's relation to technology Heidegger may provide better insight. In "The Question Concerning Technology" Heidegger lays out the problem of ultimate mastery of technology. For Heidegger technology is not intrinsically evil but when the world is reduced to a technological tool then we face a danger. Foucaoult in "History of Sexuality" locates the body as the second to last site of technological mastery (the soul being the last). If we turn the body into nothing more than a thing that can be harnessed then the body has lost any value; think of how the dirt is treated once we realized we could get oil from it. The engineers had made this leap. They have rooms full of life in cans. Shaw asks , "Why do they want to destroy us?" but the answer is in the can. Life has been reduced to a pile of legos. It isn't anything personal any more than deleting a world of warcraft account is a personal attack against the character. They have the tools to make new ones. Of course this also assumes that they would be going back to Earth to destroy. Since they actually know how the goo works they might be going back to revise and improve. This idea that they were going to kill everyone is only supported by characters who don't seem so bright.

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  10. I didn't make the christ connection to the 2000 years ago. I'm a bit ashamed by that. But i think you're spot on with that. As for why, who knows? I think your first two thoughts on the why are stronger than your third, but only because the third options leads to more why questions.
    I'm still pissed about the shitty science and scientists

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  11. @L.G. Well happy early birthday.

    @Elise: Okay well what could have happened 2000 years ago then to piss the Engineers off? I mean there had to be some reason, right? Scott wouldn't have made a film that didn't have a reason behind the story. I have too much faith in his ability to just have it unanswered ala LOST. LOL it's so frustrating because I want answers to this! Of course, it could have been something that took place on the Engineer's homeworld that changed and made them suddenly angry toward humans.

    @Trisha: I liked the movie. I'm going to go and see it again.

    @Moody: Well the only reason I did draw a comparison to Nietzsche is because Scott has that on his Weyland website. I mean he wants us to look there, right?

    @Richard: Good choice.

    @Alex: Now that makes me really curious (not the offensive part) but the fact that (if what you are saying is true) the director obviously had this angle in his mind. Just to be clear, I simply want to know what he's saying in his story (whether it is offensive or not). It's so ambiguous right now, and I think intentionally so because if the message were clear, it would be offensive.

    @Dezmond: I knew you would say that *hugs to Dezzy!

    @laughingwolf: KK

    @Brad: BRAD!!!! I was so hoping secretly in the corner of my mind that you would comment. I kept thinking to myself, "I wish I had Brad to bounce my thoughts off of" seeing as you have such a strong philosophy background.

    Okay question...do they have rooms full of life in the cans? Because when I watched the movie, it seemed to me that the black goo was not life but merely transformed it. In other words, the little worms got turned/transformed into the huge albino snakes and the guy that had his face mask melted fell into the goo and was later transformed into the murdering mohawk guy.

    And you bring up the engineer's intentions as possibly being aimed at revision than malevolence. I don't think it's much of a reach to think of them as malevolent because the Engineer was clearly hostile to everyone in the room once he woke up from his hypersleep chamber. Right? I mean it seemed pretty hostile to me.

    @Sarah: It's been bugging me for a few days and I noticed others were saying/noticing the same thing online. I actually got to the point where I was thinking, "Are the Engineers mad at humans because they worship someone else instead of them?" But I couldn't draw much of a connection there unless it was clear they were constantly observing humanity (which may be what all the cave drawings are for).

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  12. Hmm... Well, I wish I had a good response to this, but I haven't seen the movie yet (and don't know if I'll be able to make it to the theater to see it :(. If what Alex is saying is true, though...

    It makes me wonder what's behind the story, at that point. I mean, is he saying that because man killed Christ that God should kill man? Is he just writing an updated story of the Greek gods? I wonder what his personal beliefs are.

    And I really can't believe you challenged Grumpy to not be sarcastic at you. Although, he usually beats me to commenting, so maybe you did scare him off.

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  13. I haven't seen this yet so I'm not sure I can try to answer your questions. Interesting marketing, though.

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  14. I never would have thought that a movie like this was inspired by Nietzche (sp?), but unlike you, Michael, I've never read his stuff. Now I've changed my mind and want to see Prometheus and then re-read your comments.

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  15. Wow. So you've spent a lot of time thinking about this, eh? ;)

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  16. Well the Greek gods were vengeful creatures from what little I have read of mythology as was the old testament God, thanks to snatched readings from my school friend's Bible...Why drag a man made religion into sci-fi and in such an obvious manner? Disappointing, but then sci-fi again is make believe. Zarathustra, incidentally is a prophet, the Persian founder of Zoroastrianism.
    Without seeing the movie, can't answer your questions, hoping you will overlook the non intelligent comment.

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  17. Oh my hell on earth! How do you find this stuff? Honestly, there is nothing you don't miss. (I mean this as a compliment.) I think I need some time to wrap my mind around things AND definitely need to get to that show. Like NOW!

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  18. I don’t know Michael. I want answers too but I think it’s a copout to transform Jesus into one of them as some sort of messenger. Why put Christianity (yet again) in center stage? In one swoop you negate all other religions. Besides, do you really think superhuman beings that created life on Earth would give a rat’s ass about JC or another one of our religions? I would hope they would be light years above that. Plus, if they really wanted our attention couldn't they have just sent a couple of their monster ships down to set things straight? These creators are playing god, maybe the human race was a rough draft and it was time to do some major editing because they found a way to make us better…. Or, maybe in their quest to become gods things got really f***** up on their end, a super virus or what ever and now they need our planet… I don’t know. And being so much more advanced why did they go through all that effort to create a biological weapon to wipe us out when they could have sent a few of their ships and blow us all to hell? Or, maybe it's just a few fanatics that want to discretely wipe out the human race in some sort of et power struggle. I don't know I'm not going to write their shit for them, but I am the one going to buy the damn movie ticket and right now I’m left thinking… this is alien science fiction, GIVE ME SOMETHING EXTRA ORDINARY! that’s all. (:

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  19. Are you sure he means October 11th and not November 10th? There is mention of the United Kingdom, and in Europe, they abbreviate dates with the day first, month second, year last.

    Just a random thought.

    I can't speak to the rest of it as I haven't seen the movie. But if it has this much to think about behind it, I'm more tempted.

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  20. @Mike True, the black goo is not revealed as life in a can but a substance that transforms life as revealed in the opening sequence but that is the point of the Heideggerian reading of the film. Once one takes technological thought to its extreme then life is simply another tool. The engineer's reaction upon awakening while violent is still not one of malevolence if one places it in the context of technological thought. If I smash my alarm clock when it goes off it might be an overreaction but it isn't some great moral failing, I broke an interchangeable piece of technology. Similarly, the engeneer killing David, Weyland, et al is the same reaction. This robot and these people exist on a lower level. Now one could read that in a Nietzsche/ubermensch but I think that is a shallow reading of the ubermensch. Consider this passage from Thus Spake, "Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth.Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go." I think this strongly works against the hypothesis that the engineers are ubermensch both on a literal level, "poison mixers are they" and a more profound level that the engineers do not love life. Life for them is simply a game something to be manipulated.
    Now, this is not to let humanity off the hook so easily. Giorgio Agamben in "Homo Sacer" lays out the idea from Rome of Homo Sacer, life that may be killed at will but is unfit for religious sacrifice. For the humans this is David. If David dies another can be built (Hi, I'm Ash and I'll be trying to screw you over on the Nostromo! Hi, I'm Bishop, I'm not so bad!). This is a persistent theme in Scott. Hell, that is the only theme in Blade Runner. David is homo sacer, as are we in relation to the engineers. For Agamben the existence of homo sacer of course can lead to horrific consequences; we often label those we want to kill homo sacer (see most genocides). However, the technological relation at work here is unique. David is not our neighbor, nor are we the engineer's. I don't think that is inconsistent with this reading but I'm not sure what ethical issues is causes/resolves if any.
    TD;DR If everything is a tool, you don't treat things with human value. Those guys aren't ubermensch, they just work out.

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  21. One more thing this that Nietzsche quote, "Stay faithful to the earth..."

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  22. There are almost always bigger things going on behind scifi flicks. 'The Matrix' is full of all kinds of metaphor about god(s). I.e the use of The Trinity-- When I was in the church, I was in a class were we talked about god themes in a different secular movie each month. Movie makers know how to use the tools of their trade and no matter what they personally believe about god, those themes still come out very powerfully in their work. Just like you did in your piece.

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  23. Now I am intrigued to see this movie. Wasn't before. Interesting comparisons, Michael!

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  24. I haven't been able to see the movie yet, but I so want to. I hope there will be sequels, as it sounds like there are too many unanswered questions from this one.

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  25. A podcast i listen to said Ridley Scott admitted that one of the original core ideas was that Jesus Christ was an alien and his cruxifiction was a sign that humanity was beyond saving and needed to be destroyed. They knew that would be controversial so they toned it down and imo they destroyed what ever point they were hoping to make.

    In my opinion Scott was a coward. You can't half tell a story like this. You either tell it and give a reasonable bread crumb for the viewers to figure out or you come up with a different idea. He didn't do this and ended up with a story without a soul.

    Totally off topic - Biggest pet peeve in the movie - If you see a round object rolling towards you do you - 1) run in a straight line directly away from it in hopes to outrace the wheel or 2) take two steps to the right so it rolls past? Dumbest Astronauts Ever!

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  26. Saw it yesterday with my dad, and we both enjoyed how much "deeper" it was than the Alien films. My question: Will there be a sequel?

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  27. Before seeing the movie, I wanted your opinion. It looks like the film is confusing with few answers and lots of questions.

    I hope the religious aspects aren't laid on too thick. Not really a fan of that.

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