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IdeaSave

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  • Birthday 04/22/1956

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    Mark
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  1. It is very dubious to believe that any system other than a rights-respecting one could make a journey of the sort the humans did in this film. Additionally, they were quite clearly _Americans_. Also, the profit motive was explicitly attacked in the film - such a motive is incompatible with anti-capitalist systems. On top of that, James Cameron and Hollywood as a whole are anti-capitalist, and so wouldn't do a film indicting socialism et al when it is so easy and natural for them to indict capitalism. Putting all of that together, there is no _way_ that the system being criticized is anything other than capitalism. In any case, "... anti-capitalist only because ..." is still anti-capitalist, which what I'm claiming is a primary theme of the film.
  2. Then _every_ human being who ever lived at at least the tribalist level had a "rudimentary" grasp of rights - which empties the term of all meaning. The cognitive distance between that alleged grasp in a primitive's mind and in the mind of say, an Englishman circa 1492-1688 (i.e., prior to the first published explicit statement of the principle) is so vast that calling the former grasp "rudimentary" is like calling a parrot's grasp of English rudimentary. The idea that the Na'Vi were fighting for their rights is for that reason (among many others) just projection or wishful thinking. What the Na'Vi (or any stone age tribe) did in this situation was just territorial behavior. I doubt that any writer now working in Hollywood would even _want_ to write a screen play about defending rights - those writers don't accept the principle themselves (and neither does James Cameron).
  3. That is exactly what any primitive culture possessing language would say ... and it isn't enough to show they had a rudimentary grasp of rights or property. They were tribalists, and "This is our home" is a collectivist notion, not an individualist one. The Na'Vi were defending their tribalist territory, not their rights.
  4. If anything, their biological connection makes the analogy to the American Indian even more apt, because it brings them closer to the status of ordinary animal life. Such a connection is irrelevant to rights anyway - it is the possession of a rational faculty that confers rights, not biological connections to nature. You put your finger directly on the reason why this film is so corrupt: that barbaric technological species is _us_, which is precisely what that film is trying to say.
  5. "The idea that a movie that condemns the use of force to take what isn’t yours is anti-capitalist is just weird, and says more about the people who would make this argument than the movie itself." This misses one important thing: The film portrayed the nasty behavior of the "capitalists" as the essence of capitalism. Polluting the environment, driving primitive people off their land, using force to take what is wanted, crass indifference to life, spiritual emptiness, etc. were all presented (by virtue of showing no contrast) as simply the way an advanced, capitalist culture is by its nature. That's why the film is anti-capitalist. The film doesn't condemn the use of force - it condemns modern, advanced, capitalist cultures as evil because such force is (allegedly) inherent in them.
  6. Rights begin with biological _disconnection_, so how does this fantasy about biological connection, well, err, connect? Your use of the term "barbaric" supports my view.
  7. How is that relevant? We're not talking about whether rights apply, we're talking about the motivation of the Na'Vi for fighting and the theme of the film. How can one claim that the Na'Vi or any other primitive people are defending their rights when such people don't have even a rudimentary grasp of rights? To legitimately claim a person is motivated by X, doesn't X have to be present in that person's mind? I think it does, but X isn't present in this case. The concept of rights also is not present anywhere in the film. If it was even hinted at, it wasn't actually rights but "collective rights", which are not rights at all. And as I pointed out, tribalist cultures and rights are incompatible. I think the most that one can say is that the Na'Vi were motivated by the tribalist view that the ground they walk on is "theirs", i.e., the tribe's. They viewed their land as a tribal possession, not as property (they didn't have the concept of property). Given that motivation plus the portrayal of the Na'Vi as a spiritually/environmentally pure culture, the film was just another presentation of the myth of the noble savage, with a stronger than usual dose of praise for environmentalism and primitive cultures, and condemnation of technology and advanced cultures.
  8. It has been claimed here that Avatar is primarily about rights and the fight for freedom. I think that is an example of wishful thinking or projection. Setting aside the fact that Cameron himself is no defender of rights, the fact is that the Na'Vi were essentially a stone age, tribalist people. Such people by their very nature can have _no_ understanding of the concepts of rights or freedom. Those are political concepts, and primitive people haven't yet even discovered philosophy as a subject matter, let alone its most abstract branches. Additionally, there is a fundamental contradiction in that view. Tribalists are inherently collectivists, but rights are an individualist concept. For that reason, to claim that tribalists are defending their rights is to claim that the tribalists are individualists, which contradicts the premise that they are tribalists. Somebody else in this thread recently hinted at what I think is the actual theme of this film. Yes, the film is anti-business, anti-military, anti-capitalist, pro-environmentalist - but those are only a means to an end. The end is to communicate one idea: "Primitive culture is superior to all others, it is the moral ideal, and hence you should hate your (Western) culture because it is the destroyer of the primitive". That explains the feelings of depression I've seen reported about an apparently non-trivial number of admirers of this film. That also explains why I was alternately bored out of my skull and enraged while watching this film. The "noble savage" myth has been done so many times before that as soon as I saw that Avatar centered on a conflict between primitives and moderns, I knew what was going to happen. And the "noble savage" myth _is_ a myth, primitive culture is not the moral ideal but the anti-ideal, and hence I don't hate Western culture, but love it.
  9. The only peace the Nobel committee can achieve is the "peace" experienced by a zombie. According to them, peace consists of evasion - evading the the difference between good and evil, between true and false, between fact and non-fact ... all in order to pretend that none of those exist. They give their prizes to those who are the best pretenders. On their view, the world would be better off if the mind of every individual were scooped out and replaced by mush, making all of us zombies. Just like in the movies, the zombies would all end up dead. Unlike the movies, Nobel zombies would die at the hands of evil, not good, i.e., they would die at the hands of the very thing the Nobel committee wants to evade. Mark Peters
  10. This has nothing to do with the topic, but although I like "People Eating Tasty Animals", a more philosophically correct name for the group is AUTOPSY - "Animals for the Unethical Treatment Of People" (just throw in the "sy" to make it work). I give credit to John Lewis on OSG several years ago for coming up with the catchy acronym for the part in quotes. Mark Peters
  11. "Stealing Heaven" - the story of Heloise and Abelard. This is one of the most philosophic movies I've seen, with its main theme being the conflict between the religious view of love and sex and the secular view. Mark Peters
  12. Hmm. I think almost everything made _after_ 1970 was over-rated or worse (frequently approaching if not exceeding "anti-art"). Movie makers have dispensed with plot, replaced purposeful dialog with stream of consciousness babbling, replaced heroes with anti-heroes, replaced thoughtful, important themes with invitations to navel staring and saying "Oh wow, man" and replaced pretty much everything else with mindless action. There are exceptions, but overall the aesthetic level of movies since 1970 or even 1960 is very, very low compared to before then. I think that should be unsurprising, in fact expected. There is no way philosophic corruption of the sort that produced James Joyce's "Ulysses", "modern abstract art" and the hippie culture of the 1960's could leave movie making untouched - it just took longer than it did for other art forms. Here are some examples of what I consider to be fine examples of pre-1970 movie making. Gee, as it turns out, they're all pre-1960: "Queen Christina", 1934 "The Prisoner of Zenda", 1937 "Only Angels Have Wings", 1939 "The Four Feathers", 1939 "Ninotchka", 1939 "This Land is Mine", 1943 "The Winslow Boy", 1950 ""High Noon", 1952 "Shane", 1952 "Twelve Angry Men", 1957 "The Big Country", 1958 "Rio Bravo", 1958 There are hundreds more like these that I have seen but don't have their titles handy. My personal favorite is "This Land is Mine" for the superlative speech the Charles Laughton character gives near the end. Mark Peters
  13. IdeaSave

    Beatles

    I agree with what D'kian wrote, with the exception that I think Harrison's relative lack of talent/ability was only with respect to songwriting - the man was a _master_ guitarist, especially rhythm guitar. Although I'm just an amateur, to this day after years of practice playing guitar, I still cannot imagine how he squeezed all that amazing subtlety out of his rhythm guitar on songs like "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You", "The Night Before" and many others. Mark Peters
  14. Isn't the union in question a coercive labor union, i.e., a union that employers are required by law to deal with, and that employees are required by law to join? If so, then the particular issues prompting the strike are irrelevant. What is relevant is that the union is violating the rights of each side and that the strike itself amounts to a gun being put to the heads of the studios (or whoever it is that employs the writers). This immoral means invalidates the ends, no matter what they are. If it isn't coercive, then of course the writers have a right to strike, and the outcome will be determined by negotiation and/or civil suits. The strike itself is probably not being covered more than it is because the one recycled article says everything that needs to be said. Mark Peters
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