My Entire Belief System Was Spawned By John Carpenter’s First Film

11 Dec

I grew up loving the films of John Carpenter.  Halloween and Halloween 2, The Fog, and a little later The Thing, specifically.  He’s made a lot of other great movies over the years but these were the ones I knew when I was growing up, and the ones I looked forward to any night they were being run on television.

Michael_Myers_1978

 

Later on in life, long after I was out in the world on my own, some buddies and I were hanging out, and one of them had rented a movie I had never heard of called “Dark Star.”  It was John Carpenter’s first film.  It was, in fact, adapted from a movie he had made in film school.  His co-conspirator in this opus was Dan O’ Bannon, who went on to, among other things, write the screenplay for “Alien.”  My friends and I had pizza, marijuana, beer, and this movie, which we watched.  My perception of reality drastically changed and has remained so ever since.

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The first thing about this movie that would probably strike the average film viewer would be the cheap or non-existent special effects, the bad acting and/or bizarre dialogue.  There is a possibility they might laugh out loud a few times at the quirky humor of the film, but most likely they would miss the underlying message of it, even though it is actually more or less spelled out by the conclusion.  The message is this: (spoiler alert)  “You don’t know shit.”

“Dark Star” progresses through a series of non sequitur vignettes, interspersed with some hilarious video diary entries by the character known as Pinback.  (This character is in fact portrayed by Dan O’ Bannon himself)  Through this format we learn several things about the crew of the spaceship.  Their mission is to fly around the galaxy blowing up “Unstable Planets.”  (What an unstable planet is, or why they are blowing them up is never adequately explained)  “Sargent Pinback,” as it turns out,  isn’t even really an astronaut but has wound up on the ship due to a freak incident in which he found himself wearing the real Sargent Pinback’s astronaut suit and gets hustled on board as the ship is blasting off.  The ship captain is dead, due to a random explosion which incidentally destroyed the crew’s entire supply of toilet paper.  And finally, the rest of the crew isn’t very nice to Pinback, who uses his video log primarily to commiserate to his invisible audience about this fact.

So if you’re watching this movie, various low budget science fiction hilarity takes place for about an hour or so, and then we finally get to the big crisis situation near the end of the film when, in the act of preparing to blow up another unstable planet, Bomb # 20 (which they activate verbally,) can’t detach itself from the ship but refuses to stop counting down to explosion.   After a great deal of panicking, it is revealed that they can “wake up” the deceased captain and ask him for advice, which their default leader (Doolittle) does.  What he tells him, after much senseless rambling is: “Talk to it, Doolittle.  Teach it… Phenomenology.”

Doolittle then puts on a space suit and floats out to the bomb, which is still attached to the underside of the ship.  He begins a conversation with said bomb, and in doing so completely explains an entire school of philosophy better than any textbook ever could.  (I have expurgated it only slightly to remove some unnecessary material)

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DOOLITTLE:  Hello, bomb, are you with me?

BOMB:  Of course.

DOOLITTLE:  Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?

BOMB: I am always receptive to suggestions.

DOOLITTLE:  Fine. Think about this one, then: how do you know you exist?

BOMB: I think, therefore I am.

DOOLITTLE:  That’s good. That’s very good. Now then, how do you know that anything else exists?

BOMB: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me.

DOOLITTLE:  All right now, here’s the big question: how do you know… that the evidence your sensory apparatus reveals to you… is correct? What I’m getting at is this: the only experience that is directly available to you IS your sensory data. And this data is merely a stream of electrical impulses which stimulate your computing center.

BOMB: In other words, all I really know about the outside universe is relayed to me through my electrical connections.

DOOLITTLE:  Exactly.

BOMB: Why,… that would mean… I really don’t know what the outside universe is like at all, for certain.

DOOLITTLE:  That’s it.

BOMB: Intriguing. I wish I had more time to discuss this matter.

DOOLITTLE: (frantically)  Why don’t you have more time?

BOMB: Because I must detonate in seventy- five seconds.

DOOLITTLE:  Now, bomb, consider this next question, very carefully. What is your one purpose in life?

BOMB: (CHEERFULLY) To explode, of course!

DOOLITTLE:  And you can only do it once, right?

BOMB: That is correct.

DOOLITTLE:  And you wouldn’t want to explode on the basis of false data, would you?

BOMB: Of course not.

DOOLITTLE:  Well then, you’ve already admitted that you have no real proof of the existence of the outside universe.

BOMB: (DOUBTFULLY) Yes, well…

DOOLITTLE:  So you have no absolute proof that Sergeant Pinback ordered you to detonate.

BOMB: I recall distinctly the detonation order. My memory is good on matters like these.

DOOLITTLE:  Yes, of course you remember it, but what you are remembering is merely a series of electrical impulses which you now realize have no necessary connection with outside reality.

BOMB: True, but since this is so, I have no proof that you are really telling me all this.

 

In other words, you have NO absolute proof that you’re actually reading this blog right now.  You have NO absolute proof that I’ve really written this blog.  You (the “Reader”) have no absolute proof that I (the “Writer”) even exist at all.

What was my point?  I don’t think I ever had one.

(By the way, if you have no intention of ever actually watching this movie, but still want to know how it ends, here it is: The bomb explodes.  Everyone dies. The End)

So go back to your eating Big Macs and watching American Idol and voting for Democrats or Republicans or drinking Coke or Pepsi.  It doesn’t matter.

Rene-Descartes_1214990c

 


							

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AlyZen Moonshadow

The words and works of AlyZen Moonshadow, digital mixed media photography artist, designer, musician, poet, philosopher, mother, muse, Goddess!

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I like to write about stuff. I usually try to be funny. Take it or leave it.

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This site is about everything from my philosophy on life to the little things that make me laugh. IIt is about living, and breathing, and pausing long enough to take it all in. I hope it makes you laugh, sometimes makes you cry, but always makes you want to come back for another visit. It is your words, and your likes that inspire me to keep writing. And it is through my writing that you have a very large window to my soul. Relax awhile, read, and enjoy!

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