There are moments in Gravity that are worth something – although I’m not sure if it’s worth the $100 million budget nor the $18 ticket. The visuals are impressive, like the camerawork and music; however the narrative is superficial at best, offering only caricatures and predictable cliffhangers, as it jumps from one space station to another, with a cloud of space debris always in close pursuit. It’s a shame, with all that money, time and ingenuity, that such little effort was invested into fleshing out the details of why we are supposed to care.
“You can never stop evil.”A Tribecian passed by with his Golden Labrador and blurted out sarcastically, “Oh, my god, it’s art!” The Banksy enthusiasts looked back, a little miffed, but shrugged it off. They continued to watch the workman drill holes around the Banksy work.
“Did you know that you can’t see an original piece of art anymore?” One said a little loudly over the sound of the drill. “You know how many times they’ve painted over the Mona Lisa?”Having tried to take her pictures for some time around the workmen, a Banksy admirer finally gave up and confessed to her boyfriend. “All I got was a picture of that guy’s ass.”A young family squeezed behind, carrying three large wooden crates of apples. “You’re pulling me,” one of the young sisters complained to the other.
An excerpt of a new scene for my bad side, with Dee and Crystal as kids:
“You have to help me, okay?” Crystal pulled her shirt over her head and twisted her back to me. “You see that?”
“You have to cut it off.”
“You have to, Dee. I think’s cancer.”
“You should go to a doctor.”
“I’m not going to a doctor. I’m not.” She pressed the knife into my hand. “You owe me. I saved your life, right? Didn’t I?”
“Crystal, you have to go to a hospital or something.”
“Look.” She grabbed my fist in her hand and twisted it to her back. “You just cut around it. Make a cut down one side and then the other and then cut it from underneath, okay? It should take like a minute.”
I hunched over and stared, frozen. “I can’t.”
The Marquis de Sade writes in his controversial novel Justine that we, as a species, tend to exaggerate our relevance:The power of destruction is not in the gift of Man. He may, at the most, change the form of things but he does not have the power to annihilate.Oh, what does it matter to Nature’s eternal creation that the mass of flesh which today makes up a biped creature should be tomorrow reproduced as a thousand different insects? I say this: all men, all animals, all plants that grow, feed and are destroyed, reproducing themselves by the same means, never truly die but merely undergo variation and modification.
Modest Mouse offers a similar sentiment in their 2004 song Parting of the Sensory. I’d start at the dawn/Until the sun and fully stopped/Never walking away from/Just a way to pull apart/Dehydrate back into minerals/A lifelong walk to the same exact spot/Carbon’s anniversary/The parting of the sensory.
In other words, we’re just not that big a deal.
While literature is rife with the terror of a bad conscience – Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray – there is little evidence that we actually care about wronging others. We aren’t as smart as we think and end up believing that selfishness and greed is what keeps us alive. Children are taught all sorts of other good things – sharing and caring and all that – but they learn by watching how adults behave. The message is clear: Teachers and parents don’t practice what they preach; the wealthy stay rich through manipulation, and leaders maintain their power through collusion.
While fellow astronauts of Apollo 15 explored the lunar surface, Al Worden piloted the command module. His solo journey in lunar orbit lasted three days. I didn’t feel lonely or isolated. I was much more comfortable flying by myself than with others. In fact, I most enjoyed the back side of the moon, where Houston couldn’t get hold of me on the radio. The moon looked enormous from such a low orbit. I glimpsed tall central peaks of craters before I saw the surrounding low rims. With no atmosphere to soften the view, every crater and boulder was sharp and crisp. Mountains cast long slashes of blackness across the landscape, and features stood out as if I had placed a flashlight against a rough stucco wall. The moon was overwhelmingly majestic, yet stark and mostly devoid of color. Every orbit, however, I was treated to the sight of the distant Earth rising over the lunar landscape. (Pages 188-92, Al Worden, Falling to Earth.)
Val flipped her phone upside down on the bar. “The last thing this world needs is more people.”
“The problem with people–”
“Yes.” She smiled at that. “The problem with people.”
“They lack self-awareness.”
“The weird thing is that we want these versions of ourselves, people who we think will understand us.”
“Maybe even care.”
“Which means nothing.”
“The problem with people.” Val repeated it like a song lyric. “They say stupid things.”
“Good.” She checked for messages. “Whatever that means.”*
(*excerpt from The Ark)