Thursday, December 23, 2004

If ...

If I think I'm the last sane human being on the planet does that make me insane?

I've been able to take a couple of hours to indulge myself today. Mr. Keys went off to tune a piano. He's just back now. But I was able to not work at work. And not work at home. I chose, as my mini vacation, to watch the DVD of a film I saw in the theater when it was first released last year, I, Robot. Now, mind you, I'm a science fiction-raised baby. Cut my teeth on all of it thanks to my father and the burgeoning SF culture of the 50s and 60s. I grew up in the hayday of middle period SF. I've read almost every Isaac Asimov novel and story ever written. I won't name all of the other authors. And I've read ALL the Asimov robot stories. And my Dad read to us from Alfred Bester's "The Stars My Destination" late nights, a lot of nights, along with assorted 19th century poetry and other SF.

So, today I watched it at home on my computer... I was all alone. Such freedom. I had the speakers turned up full blast... and I didn't remember much of it from my theater visit. I knew what would happen in the end, but the details of the film had left my mind, and I was dazzled by the Will Smith/Dale Spooner character line early on, as I was in the theater. I paraphrase as I did above:

If I think I'm the last sane human being on the planet does that make me insane?

If you've not seen the film, bear in mind that they made something cerebrally SF into something more action film oriented. Still, and you have to know, I'm a harsh critic of schlocky SF... it's pretty good, and this is why. It appeals to a larger meaning, about uniqueness and consciousness. It's set in Chicago of 2035. It hangs onto the human foibles of greed and grasping for power, but it goes far beyond that.

Now if you really want to do it up right, you'll read Asimov's entire robot series. But, if you can't do that, you should still rent or buy the film if you haven't seen it, or even if you have. ;-)

Understand that SF for me has always been a well-understood metaphor for life as we know it now, robots and extra-terrestrials notwithstanding. These days on the Happy Planet, when everything's twanged out beyond all twanging, the SF part of my brain says... yes, it's scary, but "we" already know about all of this, so there's nothing much to worry about.

My morning with Will Smith and Sonny the Robot was strangely but rightly comforting for me.

I'll just add that I think there are many of us who wonder about what it means to be the last sane human being on the planet. My end of the year affection goes out to all of you "last sane human beings".