“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) TRON
(Since I can’t link any original TRON content, here is a fan-made trailer)
Greetings, Programs! Last week, I mentioned my favorite line from the movie TRON. This week I figured I would do one of the more famous quotes from the movie – from three different angles!
The Philosophical Angle: Flynn goes from being a programmer designing video games into a virtual world where programs have personalities, and there is an entire society within the confines of the computer system. How do you look at the computer system that you work with in the same way after you have been inside of it? Is deleting a file actually killing someone sentient?
It’s interesting how a change in perspective makes a difference. I can tell you that I had no idea how far off I was on how moderation works around here. There are a lot more Dilbert moments than X-Files scenes with the Cigarette-Smoking Man. I’ll say that my opinion of academia has certainly changed after I got inside. It is even more ruthless than the average corporate office, and much more hierarchical. Older PIs often seem like ancient wizards or medieval nobles. Have you had moments that completely shifted your perspective?
The Theological Angle: Flynn creates a world, then goes into it, becoming all but indistinguishable from the beings that inhabit it. He is reduced to the lowest level, but his power is still evident. He sacrifices his life to save the world, but in the process is restored to his proper place. Sound familiar? The Christian narrative is so powerful that Hollywood can’t resist incorporating into stories, even if it is in a distorted way. Are there any other stories where the Christian imagery was present almost in spite of itself?
The Political Angle: There is no way this movie could be made today. Flynn is a relic from another era – the renegade programmer turned hacker, acting immature and flirtatious, brash and boastful. He’s from an era of tech that wouldn’t be recognizable in this modern era of digital safe spaces and walled garden run by social justice scolds. Even the age of the open Internet, where a techno-libertarian future seemed to open before us, is all but gone. Tech companies seem to have gone from geeks to the villains of a cyberpunk novel, with a bizarre unreal twist where people identifying as buildings and animals are welcome, but people identifying as with beliefs similar to half of America are not. Ironically, the sequel’s villain is not the supposed wickedly greedy CEO, but the system administration program out to create the perfect system. Any who deviate are destroyed or “rectified” into identical drones. It’s unintentionally a description of the modern vision of Big Tech. What do your think happened to the technology industry such that it
My mom has often said, “Hurting people hurt. Healed people heal.” This explains a lot of life to me. Some people find themselves in a hole and want to drag others down. While others used that hole to build a foundation to raise people up. The simple trite saying is “You either get better or bitter.”
I hope this quote will not be used to put people down as much as to understand them. People lashing out often are transferring their anger to you. Actually what you have done maybe was really not that important. You were just there.
There are also people who have learned so much from their tough times. They generously share how to get on in life. They have smiles and patience when those are hard to come by. If you are just there, you are blessed.
5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 30:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
This is a classic. It even was used in a P. G. Wodehouse title for one of his Jeeves books. The English title was Joy in the Morning whereas the American title was Jeeves in the Morning. For those who might not know, Ps 30:5 is Psalms 30 verse 5 in the Bible.
“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” – Bob Carter
When you consider American conservatism, self-reliance always comes to the forefront. The classic conservative American ideal is the self-made man, the person does not need to rely on others. Now, this is not exactly accurate – we are not islands isolated from each, we are social creatures – but the principle is there. We do not celebrate, barbecue, and launch fireworks for Dependence Day.
There is a harsher side to this focus on self-reliance – the fate of those not self-reliant. This brings up the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper partied while the ant kept busy storing up resources and digging a burrow, and when the winter came the grasshopper starved and froze to death. Harsh, yes, but that was the way of the world for centuries. Pity and charity are fundamentally luxuries – if you do not have abundance, the unprepared starve. There is no obligation to help others at a cost yourself except moral principles. It is noble and a deeply respected tradition to offer hospitality to the traveler, even if he was unprepared for the journey. Regardless, there is no formal duty to aid others.
I am not a believer in Ayn Rand’s Objectivism with its hatred of altruism – I serve the King of Heroic Sacrifice – but the modern culture of dependence and refusal to prepare for future misfortune is leading us off of the cliff. Perhaps it is time to bring back a dose of cold reality to our modern grasshoppers.
We just re-brand it as “Pro-choice”-problem solved! Progressives on-board! (Some of that “lateral thinking” I’ve been hearing about).
So, who all here has read Heinlein’s first (published) novel Beyond This Horizon? Skillfully explored the ethics of ‘eugenics’ and also a heavily armed, and thus, extremely polite, society. Heinlein had the government run the (voluntary) eugenics program, and distribute Basic Income (just how topical to 2018 can a 1940 novel be?!)
My current take: Unless we do some kind of World-Treaty, eugenics arms race with the Red Chinese started approximately last month. We just don’t know it yet. And as Geoffrey Miller so pithily notes, no one is going to unilaterally disarm.