Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The X Files became the longest running Sci Fi TV series and was deemed second only to Star Trek in terms of its cult status. At it's peak in the mid 90s it was hugely popular and over the almost ten years that the 9 series ran from 1993 was consistently innovative and often interesting. The main tag line was "The Truth is Out There" and the dynamic between the sceptical Scully and the open minded Mulder drove much of the character development and plot. The second movie is finally released next week and has been titled, to the dismay of many "Xphiles" or fans, "I want to believe".
The fans just think it is a rubbish title but the change in emphasis through the series and into the movies is noteworthy. "The Truth is Out There" spoke of empirical, observable realities. It said that through the confusion, the differences of opinion and the paranoia there was an ultimate, over arching truth which although not clear could in theory be accessed and was worthy of pursuit. "I want to believe" takes truth into a personal and subjective realm. The focus is less on the truth itself and more on the response of the individual.
The series of ideas which have become labeled as post-modernity would resonate with this progression. There is no objective truth which can be know, no meta-narrative or big story, no real meaning in words or ideas, certainly nothing external which can be accessed or referenced. Each must find their way in the darkness, every opinion valid and judgement entirely subjective and therefore irrelevant. And yet these ideas primarily have traction in the areas of morality, values, ethics and spirituality. Nobody seems that keen to take their car to a post-modern garage, have their assignments marked by a post-modern teacher or invest their money in a post-modern bank. Although post-modern doctors can be found and post-modern politicians may be desirable. The dialogue is central to much of the debate of 21st Century issues. Is there truth out there? Be it about global warming, poverty, ethics or the existence and nature of God or is it just a matter of sincere opinion from those who want to believe. Sincerity is no guarantee of veracity and wish fulfillment in the face of facts to the contrary is self delusion.
Katie Melua is not a renowned philospher but does have some valid perspectives on this issue.
There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That's a fact,
It's a thing we can't deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
We are twelve billion light years from the edge,
That's a guess,
No-one can ever say it's true
But I know that I will always be with you.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE BUT I DON"T KNOW IT ALL
I'm warmed by the fire of your love everyday
So don't call me a liar,
Just believe everything that I say
I WANT TO BELIEVE AND I WANT YOU TO BELIEVE TOO
There are six BILLION people in the world
More or less
and it makes me feel quite small
But you're the one I love the most of all
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS SONG IS THE HUMILITY ABOUT WHAT IS NOT KNOWN AND THE CERTAINTY OF WHAT IS BELIEVED. I WISH MORE OF MY COMMUNICATION COULD STRIKE THAT BALANCE!
WHICH TAKES US BACK TO MULDER AND SCULLY
Deep in conversation as usual. A believer with a scientific bent and a sceptic with a religious past. If the Poster for the new movie is any clue the intersection of their lives and love may provide the key. Although in a world where they know to "Trust no one" there may not be a happy ending.
Without truth there can be no love. Without someone to trust there can be no answers. Belief in the truth is the key. As The Truth says "All things are possible to those who believe" and the response is deeply moving "Lord I believe, help my unbelief". It is faced with the reality of the truth that the desire to believe is kindled. I wonder what Mulder and Scully would have made of that X File.
I was in London on the day of the launch of the new IPhone last week. Crowds thronged the Oxford Street store. Some had been queuing all night. One guy sold his place at the front of the line on ebay for $100. It is a neat little gadget but only available on contract plans at present for a minimum of 18 months. There were problems with the O2 system being unable to cope with the registrations so as of 10.30 the ones who got in at 8.00 had still not been connected. Why is it so important to get a device like this on the first day it is available? Status, the tactile experience, gadget joy, a sense of being there right at the start of something significant are probably all part of it. But the hype has also been extraordinary even by the standards of the well documented cult of apple.
T3 Magazine in its editorial said "At great expense we bring you the second coming of the Jesus Phone". It is a unusual use of Jesus as an adjective. Jesus usually has his name uttered when something bad happens. If this is code for perfection it is hard for a gizmo to live up to, even a shiny one, especially if it only has a 2 mega-pixel camera. If it is an allusion to the second coming of Jesus it is rather anti-climatic since a new world order has not been ushered in. The inside article continues the theme introducing the 3Gesus Phone. This language has been used since the launch of the first I Phone.
The I-Phone is a global movement. Fans speak of the I-Phone community, the I-Phone setting you free, in praise of the I-Phone and even talk of Steve Jobs in prophetic ways and an obsession with the product that goes beyond obsession to worship. One Blog I read spoke of "how the I-Phone saved me". All this religious imagery is quite interesting. People hungry for hope reach out for perfection, the Jesus Phone won't do the job. And as for the second coming of the real deal: people will not be queuing up over night in expectation. Some of them may in fact be busy with the numerous functions on their 3rd or 4th generation phones. That's the trouble with I-Cons. They fool you into thinking you have it all already.
The other danger with something that is your communication portal, digital media player, address book, diary and nexus of digital life is that it could become too important. At which point it crosses over from I-Phone to I-Dol. Still when the fuss dies down its probably worth getting one: it is VERY shiny and there are plenty of cool people in the cult that you can call, text, email or IM.