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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Take Shelter

I was not as impressed with Take Shelter as I had expected --- perhaps I had expected too much. In general, the movie leaned pretty heavily toward the "paranoid schizophrenia" context (ie, subjective delusional point of view), rather than toward the "apocalyptic horror movie" genre. The mood is beautifully created. I just thought the filmmaker could have gone farther. The dream sequences are pretty fantastic, but the movie could easily have used 2-3 more such segments --- even though I was shaking in my shoes already.

One day about a month ago, I was driving home on Rt. 66 from work and got caught in a torrential downpour. On the radio, the news station was blasting tornado warnings in just the same area. The roads were so slick with water that the car was nearly floating. Plus I could see nothing but a blur outside my window and hear nothing but the mad beating of the rain drops. I pulled over to the shoulder several times, heart pounding, hand shaking, breathing hard. It felt like the end of the world, and there I was sitting alone in the car.

According to the currently known of laws of physics, all that has happened still exists in the space-time continuum, and so exists everything in the future. The undetermined nature of time is but an illusion. The future is there, only it is out of the reach of our cognition. So I often wonder what is ahead of now, this moment, for the little speck in the universe that is I, that has already happened, waiting for my senses to enter and surround it and make it real for the sorry little brain in my scull.

Sitting in the car alone in the rain, I wondered whether a short (time) distance beyond was my car swirling in a funnel cloud. The future is right there but I cannot access it. Oh well, at least on that day the world did not end, and nor did I leave Kansas.

So, what will happen has already happened, and the only barrier is our knowledge. We are the way we are, because a large part of our nature is rooted in our oblivion of what lies beyond now. I suppose there could exist a different creature, a creature that sees every spot in the space-time continuum or even just the segment of their finite life span, a creature that has symmetrical memory of the past and future. Such creatures would feel, think, and behave differently from humans, obviously. How? I don't know. I only know that for these creatures there would be no such thing as hope.


Come to think of it, our sense of the past is also an illusion. The past exists in a physical sense outside of our awareness, just like the future does the same. Our knowledge of the past, however, exists in the now, in the lazy but continual sparks between neurons or the patterns of a few particular neurons somewhere in our brain, now. It has nothing to do with the actual physical events in the past, just like the girl in the photo, which I am looking at, is not the same thing as the small human female I was 30 years ago. What we are holding in our hands is not the actual past but rather a (now) flickering shadow of the past.

In other words, we have a sense of the forward direction of the flow of time, only because we have memory. Without memory, we would not know what time is. (Of course, like the stars and aliens, time exists outside of human knowledge. Or does it?)

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