On context

One of the great gifts John gave to me is a love for superheroes and sci-fi. Not growing up with brothers that world completely passed me by in high school.

I've caught up.

One of the things about the ordinary-man-in-extraordinary-world and extraordinary-man-in-ordinary-world plots that drive these genres is that it lets you explore life in a different context--and that change in context can provide extraordinary insight.

Fiction gives your mind permission to see things in a new way--"willful suspension of disbelief." When you step outside your world into a new one or experience a character with powers we don't normally possess, it changes our perception of what is possible in the world we live in.

I recently saw the sci-fi movie "In Time" with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. The movie is about a world with no money--there are only minutes. The rich--those with lots of time--become immortal.  The poor work hard to get enough time just to live another day. That change in context made me see the real world differently. We tend to equate money with things.  So people either have a lot of things or few things. But in a world where the currency is time, the issues are about life.  The lack of resources makes each day a life/death situation.

There were lots of insights in the movie, but the one that struck me the hardest was when the bus fares were raised causing Olivia Wilde's character not to be able to afford the trip. She had to run to her destination to get more minutes.  Since she couldn't make the trip in the time she had left, she ran out of time and dropped dead in the street. It occurred to me that poverty is really that desperate. 

Another recent move that contained a powerful story line was an indie film called "Another Earth." The central storyline is about a girl who made a mistake with tragic consequences and her battle with trying to come to peace. But the change in context of the situations that are caused by the appearance of "another earth" mean that our brains don't automatically predict/qualify/classify. We watch the movie as something new and because of that we can see new things...not just about the characters but about ourselves.

So thank you, John, for introducing me to a world of stories. At best, it has given me insight...and at the least I now get the references on the Big Bang Theory.


© Random Cathy
Maira Gall