This weekend I saw the 3D action-thriller movie Gravity. It's filled with visual wonder but I think offers more than that. On the surface it proves anout there feeling of the vastness of space topic punctuated with the claustrophobic feeling of living in a space suit. It is quite grounded in the science of space and the engineering of our efforts there, but I liked as well the implications and the perhaps some implied view of the fragility of the human condition.
When my head stopped spinning from the closely observed and etchingly realistic
experiences of spinning in space I groked the meaning of the title for the first time. It's Gravity and not Zero Gravity.
In the movie our space constructs are destroyed by our own debris and it’s a bumpy ride being tethered together and the direction of things is down. There is some parallel to the film 2001 in some scenes such as getting into a space station while in a space suit, but the neatest relations is a connection to evolution. Indeed we are treated to both evolution and something like a reverse evolution in that we start in the air and fall to ground. Well actually we fall to the sea and have to emerge onto land again as did our ancestors.
If the message of 2001 is about transcendence and emergence, this movie has something in the opposite direction. Maybe we need something simpler we can understand (Look the dials are in Chinese so we need our wits and “eenie meenie mo" chances to survive.)
But our time is ticking by till the next Meltdown, I mean space-debris shower happens.
Yep, we are all holding are breath watching this movie, but maybe as a passenger of our complex times too.
It's a mix of complexity, unintended consequences and natural forces like gravity that bring things crashing to earth. Time perhaps for us to sip and not gulp on the topic of the challenge of modern complexity and multiple levels - in orbit and down on earth.