By Cage Innoye
The movie, Avatar, is a significant film. It is the most expensive movie ever made and one of the most beautiful and attractive films produced. Technological breakthroughs were required to make the stunning picture.
Avatar strikes a chord with us. We are attracted to this fantastic world. Not only for its surreal beauty and creativity but also because this world provides something else: It is a Memory. Avatar is both new to us but at the same time, it is not new at all. Avatar echoes something that we all miss, something we all have experienced. It is déjà vu of sorts, we have been here before but we do not know when, where or how.
Avatar is a psychologically significant film for it comes at a time when the Human race, we must admit, is at a low point. And the film reminds us when we once were higher beings. We once were Avatars but have long since forgotten who we are. We have become lost in the modern world in the amnesia caused by all of our distractions.
Our response to Avatar is quite deep, it is hardwired it seems, though some will not admit this. Avatar is about “wholes”, it is about social wholes and mental wholes that have long since perished in our history. In the modern world we feel this loss of a whole in our personal lives.
Our brains are designed to operate as wholes. In the modern age, we only use certain selected mental regions and neglect much of the rest of our neurological equipment. But we have a dim memory of another kind of psyche that art retrieves for us for a few shining moments.
At the same time, our cultures are disintegrated. We are alienated or at war with others though we have been conditioned for millennia to live as wholes, to have relationships with people, to be a part of a close community. The social whole is also a vague memory.
Avatar reminds us of our loss of connection, the loss of direct connection not mitigated through middlemen or bureaucracies or pure logic or science. The physiology, our basic psychology, and our hardware wants wholes and connection. Unfortunately, the world provides only bits and pieces and disconnection and chaos. So we do not operate at full capacity and we miss this. Mental tools are unemployed, sub-minds are bored, discs are empty, and the vacuum calls out to be filled with activity and association and goals. We feel this and we miss this and we pine for this, but we don’t understand what this phenomenon is. Because we have no curriculum that teaches us what we have lost.
Many of us act poorly. We may fall into obsessive behavior and repeat some little thing over and over to find joy and security because all we have is little things and no whole. Others may just accept that life is empty and lonely. Still others will fill the vacuum with “ME”. The compensations are manifold because we have no whole, no connection, no joint goals, no variety and diversity.
Avatar points to a seminal event in Human history, the dissolution of the original tribal village, the break up of the great unity. In the 5,000 years since the break up of the communal origin, many wholes have fragmented. Let’s examine the many issues below:
Avatar is a mythology that points us back to mythology itself. A mythology is a big story, the biggest of stories, a complete story that addresses many issues -- our goals, behaviors, personalities and nature, our strategies, our powers and talismans, our mentors and helpers and allies, our enemies, our inner battles, our moral codes, our views of creation, our views of life, proportion and place, our social vision and more.
Science and history are only chapters in a mythology. A myth rises above all because it is about living life. It is highly personal and yet must be very social too. Myth is neither fiction nor nonfiction, neither science nor fantasy, neither religion or empirical fact, neither dream nor immediate reality. Myth is a collection of many things. It can be very complex but in the end it is very simple because it is about living life as a Human being.
The people in Avatar have such a myth that binds, protects and guides them. Where is our myth? Do we have a mythology of our local community, our nation, for the whole world? Does the Human race have a common myth? No, we are a planet without a mythology speeding through space. From a gray moon one can see a blue planet of whirling confusion and war, we are the planet without a clue.
And where is the mythology for an individual? Each person needs one, a self identity, a complete story to get through life’s many twists and turns. Identity is the key thing a myth can give you. But we get no help from schools, jobs, media or leaders on this. What we do receive are products to shop for, and entertainment stories that do not provide us material for personal myth and try to substitute someone else’s myth for the development of our own. Reality shows provide the myth of celebrity and the derision for the myths of others.
By and large we are diverted by financial stress that causes us to fixate on money in order to relieve the anxiety. All the while, politicians exhort us to rely on them and forget about myth because your myth is about your self action, and they do not want that.
But our Mythology can be retrieved and will be retrieved because our souls demand it. No one can exist without a story, a Human being and Human society without a story is lost.
The idea of a whole is a fundamental theme of “spirit”. Spiritual refers to a state of mind, a special perception that takes us to the higher and more revered issues. Spirit is a whole that connects you to the vast cosmos, to Mother Nature and planet Earth, to the origin of all things, to other Human beings, to the beginning of our race. But spirit flags in this age because our associations and relationships are weak and tentative. The soul is the spirit’s vehicle, it travels to all these places of origin and connection, but the modern soul has little mileage on it, it ventures not far in ethereal and inspirational miles, though in terms of geographic miles or electronic internet miles we are veteran travelers.
The transcendent emotions of love, caring, brotherhood, home, family, community, self sacrifice are expressions of spirit. They are rare for we are driven by mundane feelings about economic interest. We get our thrills from shopping. We are distracted by computer games. And we use drugs, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, food, sex and so on, but these do not offer us connection to a whole. We cannot reach the transcendent emotions this way though we may try.
Our spirit yearns for better days; our hardwiring will bring us back to this whole of ourselves. Once again we will be connected to the greater.
The mind is a whole, it is one organic device; it is interconnected in many ways.
But we are frozen in this age in a realm of logic, facts and science.
Our brain is vast inner world of creativity, memory, the subconscious, wisdom, morality, a mind of doing, emotions and reason, as well. The tribal mind revels in all minds, the Avatar mind is interconnected, one state passes to another, and no sub-mind dictates its narrow interests to the rest. We have a democracy, a federation of perceptions and personalities. We do not have a domineering chairman who rules without a quorum.
In modern culture, we teach the logical and we are quite skilled at this. But we have no understanding of the rest of our mental toolbox; we have no curriculum to learn the use of all our latent talent.
Mother Nature gave us all our perceptions and skills for a purpose: To Survive. Why else would they be there? Vast sections of the brain are today abandoned. The Human species is again in period of crisis, and we need all of our evolutionary inheritance to endure.
Because we do not understand our emotions we suffer, because we do not understand our dreams we do not know our deepest needs, because we do not understand the difference between wisdom and logic we behave stupidly, because we have no knowledge of the techniques of imagination and innovation we can’t solve problems, because we do not know the uses of both objective and subjective memories we have no grounding, and because we don’t know how to just behave spontaneously without a plan or script we cannot grapple, act and react, risk and adapt.
We are personally aware of our failures at mental management, we feel it – the malaise, bad feelings, surprises, paralysis, confusion, nervousness and fear.
We also know it because of what is called “culture war” which rages in the modern world, but at root a culture war is not about culture, it is a mental war between mind types, between spheres of the mind.
The mind can be made whole again. Our dysfunction is at an apogee, we cannot go much further.
Alienation and the Community
In the world of Avatar there is intimate and direct contact between beings, in our modern society we have alienation. We live in a world of great complexity but without connections in that complexity. There are millions of people but not “One people”. We have affluence and many things, but we do not have relationships in our treasure chest.
We are disconnected from all others, and are in conflict with all others. We are lonely, we are depressed, we become egotists trying to boost our forever flagging egos. We lie, dissemble and do not trust.
Consumerism keeps us apart, modern media and entertainment disconnects us too. Our cars, our suburbs wall us off from others. Community and brotherhood are ancient memories. The modern city is united by things like mass media something we all plug into but it speaks only one way. We are also united by leaders, they speak to us all, and thus through them we are united in a sort of way. We have all these centralizing institutions that connect us but they substitute for real Human connection.
We use the internet to connect but as we expand one type of contact, we lose another type of contact, that of intimacy, directness. This type of Human relationship is more powerful than that of electronic connection (though we need the electronic; it is essential in this age). The amount and quality of communication in a direct Human-to-Human relation is for superior to that of the virtual one – the tone of voice, the looks, the eyes, the body language, the transparency, sincerity, the longer periods of contact, the wandering but total range of a dialogue. This is total communication and it leads to honesty and trust, we open up and move beyond acquaintance to true friendship, and then to partnership in some important project, and thus we have more direct Human-to-Human contact.
On the balance sheet of our personal communications, does the direct and tactile relation outweigh the electronic? If the internet and cell phone dominate then we have more liabilities than assets. Overall, it is the job of the electronic to assist the tactile and direct, for the technology to assist the Human.
Cage Innoye is an American writer. He has these Free Ebooks available: Avatar and the Diverse Whole; The Axxiad; A Dictionary of Creativity; Manifesto for a Vexed Planet; and A Quick Glossary of New Terms and Ideas. Please go to his website: Axxiad News and Ideas