Tuesday, 15 December 2009

2012...at the movies

Tues, 15 Dec

Yesterday afternoon I decided to go to the pictures on my own. It's nice to have the autonomy to do what one likes during leave time, especially when it's contrary to everyone else appears to be doing at in that moment. So, I strolled out the door in the early afternoon, cut through Queens Park and then Centennial, arriving at Fox Studios in time for a quick bite, a coffee, and a ticket purchase to see the new blockbuster, 2012. I was looking forward to catching this film as its subject matter is of keen interest to me.

I was about to front up to the Subway stall and order my usual round of veggie wrap. Just as I was converging onto the stall front, the second stall down from Subway suddenly snared my attention. It was a wrap rotisserie shop that seemed to specialise in fancy wraps. Most of these were of the clucky variety, and not being too fond of the old chinker I decided on the safe bet of the veggie wrap. Roasted capsicum, for example, was one of the wrap's inticing ingredients. I ordered but noticed something wasn't quite right. The guy behind the counter looked too green, like he was working for a boss he barely knew in a job that he knew little about. Perhaps he was new. He called out to the cook to make a vegetarian wrap and she answered him with a question, 'vegetarian?'. A quizzical pause followed that allowed me to sense that there were missing ingredients of which I surmised I wasn't going to be informed about it. I was right, of course. I basically ended up with a circular coleslaw sandwich. It was relatively healthy, I conceded, as I muled away at the wrap with the overflowing ranch sauce and strong cheddar cheese notes. I make better wraps in my sleep, I thought, and with olives & sundried tomatoes. The piece cost me $8.80, a total wrap-off, yes. I won't be ordering from that wrap-shop again.

These petty insignificances are of squat value if we're to believe the premise of this film, that the end of the world as we know it is coming to us 3 years and 6 days hence. On the whole, the film was mightily disappointing, meshing as it did into an atypical hollywood blockbuster. So predicable it is when the hero has eighty-one lives and miraculous near-misses and comes out all-right in the end. Sometimes it works well, like 1981's Indiana Jones. In this instance, it's overbearing and frankly unbelievable.
2012 is reminiscent of 1994's Speed (with Sandra Bullock), with the added measure of the earth cracking up underneath the speeding limo/airplane/ark of the heroes & villains.

My interest in the film veered toward the science aspects, of which the premise of the world coming to an end - all speculation and sub-fiction mind you - was based upon. In 2009 the sun spurts abnormally ginormous solar flares that have a "microwave" effect upon the earth's core and mantle. There is also the magnetic effect of planetary alignment that takes place in 2012. By late-2012 the effects of this heating of the earth's interior are quick and catastrophic. Fault lines appear suddenly, apparently out of nowhere. The first major schism is the collapse of California west of the San Andreas fault-line. Within a couple of days the entire world comes crumbling down and the earth's crust is now entirely displaced (hence the term "earth crust displacement"). The earth has tipped on its axis so that Wisconsin in the USA is now the South Pole. Scary stuff.

My favourite part of the film was within the first half when everything starts going awry, leading up to the final cataclysm. I found it to be quite emotionally stirring. Although this is fiction, and a projection and a mere possibility only, I couldn't help but realise without a shadow of a doubt that the earth will give back to us what it has received. We have turned it into a dumping ground, extracting its vast, miraculous resources - that have taken millions of years to create - and spun these into a whirlpool of mass consumption and waste. No individual is to blame, we are all to blame. As depicted in the film, the planet with its earthquakes, tsunamis and crust displacement struck me as being a very logical development in how this civilisation could finally come to an end. I actually felt it was a most natural thing, that we have overburdened the planet, and like a sick dog about to cough up the last remains of its poisoned bile, it is going to mess us all up viciously. And it's actually happening. Here's what 'survival acres' had to say in his most recent e-newsletter, this morning's:

"A quick update: India torrential rain increases, Arctic coastline disintergrating, Himalayan ice disappearing, British wildlife collapsing, pollution destroying parts of Vietnam, Cantrell (Mexico) oil field in severe decline now, coral reef collapse, Louisana coast flooding, deforestation threatening villages and farmers in India, Brazil river collapse, whales dying in Italy, more coral reef collapse, Australia water collapse, Paraguay deforestation, algae blooms in Washington coast, more erosion in Alaska coasts, rising seas in Bangladesh -- good grief, I'm not even half done with page 1!"

How events are going to pan out over the next few years are anybody's guess, but the prognosis is seriously dim. Part of me feels that if we turned a blind eye to it all then our 'business as usual' way of life may just continue unabated. But I'm aware that something drastic is likely to give. Most reports of global degradation and destruction remain covert to find, unless you specifically trawl through the internet like I do. Mass media seems to hide the seemingly rampant environment downslide, other than small 3 paragraph reports on the inner pages that nonetheless ring like tiny alarm bells. And the incredulous thing is that all this is happening just as we approach December 2012!

The likeliest thing will be that nothing exceptional takes place on the winter solstice (summer for southerners) in December 2012. But there is a strong, undeniable possibility now that catastrophic earthly (and worldly) events, either before or after 2012, will come into focus as the overriding concerns of the next decade. I do hope not. But the prognosis is not good. Environmental and geological collapse, fossil fuel depletion, climate shifts that include droughts & floods are all occurring now. And one day they will hit us with a very big bang. Better then to live away from the cities than in.

No civilisation on this planet has lasted forever. They may have all believed in their time and place that theirs will last into perpetuity, but they haven't. One by one they have been destroyed by one method or another, leaving us with a few buildings and bits and pieces scattered around the globe, and as ornate and wondrous as these artifacts might be, they've all outlasted their creators and their cultures.

It could be said that no-one knows when the end of this civilisation is coming. And as I write this I'm hoping that it won't. I'm hoping that life will go on as is indefinitely. Yet I know this is fanciful thinking, the cushioned mind of a westerner who enjoys modern life (albeit in a 'hippy-ish' way). I subscribe to the idea that we do know when the end of our civilisation is approaching. We'll all feel it and sense it and this may be reflected in our culture and creative expressions just before the end.

Sometimes ideas come out on a wide scale because they reflect where the human psyche is at. We had Elvis, Beatles et al et al because they reflected, with impeccable timing, our times, and mood of the culture we lived in. A film like 2012 can come out now because it reflects our time. A decade ago the film may have been controversial, more so if it came out 20 years ago. I believe the western psyche accepts the precepts of civilisation collapse whether consciously or subconsciously. The facts are creeping up on us. The earth is heaving and ecosystems and wildlife are collapsing at a rapid rate. This is a tragedy beyond epic proportions. But I feel that this is just too big a construct for me, an individual, to deal with.

I just hope it's going to be alright and that everything turns out good in the end...

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