Tag Archives: Omni

Writing essays on space opera and pop-culture

Scene from the upcoming science fiction movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, directed by Luc Besson
Scene from the upcoming science fiction movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, directed by Luc Besson, adapted from the French comic book by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, and starring Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. A classic, special effects rich, action adventure space opera, similar to Star Wars, Mass Effect,, and Guardians of the Galaxy

This last one and a half months or so I’ve been writing essays for Omni magazine on scifi movies, especially those with a  space operatic theme, storytelling, mythopoesis, and pop culture, which I’ll be double posting here, along with any additional thoughts I have.

I’ve always been interested in scifi movies for their mythopoetic power, despite the lack of realism and story consistency, and indeed often inferiority next to most print science fiction (or “SF”).  The reason I like movies is because cinema brings so much more to the table: special effects, music, actors. and so on.

Also, even though I write in text, I always think in pictures.  It’s as if I have a cinema playing my own scifi movie in my head.  Hence I always look for inspiration to movies, the visuals, the music, and so on.

I envisage there’ll eventually come a time when any creative person will be able to make a complete movie on their desktop quantum computer (and you’d need a quantum computer because of the rendering and computing needed for movie standard special effects!).  In the meantime, we have to make do with either print stories or TV/movies (with some hybrid media like graphic novels, and new emerging independent movie and CGI film-making)

I’m going to be writing less essays anyway, not because I don’t enjoy writing essays (I do), but because I really need to focus on getting my first novel finished in six months.

Oh, and I still can’t figure put how to do realistic hair in Blender.

incorporating metaphysics in science fiction

Front on view of the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus' ship in The Matrix
Front on view of the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus’ ship in The Matrix. Called a “hovercraft”, it actually corresponds to the standard space opera trope of the small spaceship with its ragtag crew of rebels. See also the Matrix Wiki page on this ship

Lately been writing essays for Omni.  Working on my latest one on The Matrix and Gnosticism really got me thinking about metaphysics, worldbuilding, and scifi, since The Matrix is probably the most metaphysical movie (and trilogy) I have seen.  That’s not to deny there isn’t metaphysics and Gnosticism in other scifi as well, even the  silliest, e.g. some Marvel Comics and their Guardians of the Galaxy (their version of Star Wars essentially) with concepts like Celestials and Infinity Stones.  But I’m interested in a  more serious approach to metaphysics, and achieving this in a similar way to how Tolkien incorporated pagan nordic (Viking, Beowulf, etc) mythology in Lord of the Rings.  I’m less interested in the Silmarillion because it’s too mythology heavy.  I’m interested in creating an adventure story, a road movie but in outer space, not a mytho-theology.

As I explain in my essay, the Wachowskis failed to incorporate the gestalt of Gnosticism.  They got the paranoia, the underworld, the spirits trapped in matter perfectly.  Essentially, they created a very Philip K Dickian form of Gnosticism.  But they totally left out the transcendent element, the Pleroma, the Aeons or supra-mundane spiritual archetypes.  They also only included half of Philip K Dick’s gnosis; his Black Iron Prison (negative), but not his Palm Tree Garden (positive) (see The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick).

Essentially then, The Matrix Trilogy is a long meditation on the world of what Rudolf Steiner calls Ahriman, the anti-divine power and the god of materialism and mechanism in matter  Interestingly, it’s also a space opera, albeit one set on a post-apocalyptic Earth.  I say this because it features a classic small spaceship, the Nebuchadnezzar (above), directly comparable to the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars, Serenity of Firefly, and Milano of Guardians of the Galaxy,  Even though the story is set on a future, post-apocalyptic Earth, the trope of a grimy ship with its rag-tag team of plucky rebels is identical

My interest however is in a space operatic story arc that incorporates both the lower, ahrimanic and lovecraftian dimensions, the middle imaginal and aetheric dimensions, and the highest, pleromatic and transcendentalist ones.  Stories dwelling on the lower worlds are common, those concerning the higher are rare.  Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey for example ends with the sort of transcendentalist aspect that one would expect to find, but was lack in, The Matrix Trilogy

The obvious, and easiest, way to incorporate metaphysics is through mythic concretism: the various planes of existence are portrayed as actual regions of space.  This is the case of traditional mythology such as Jain, Buddhist, Nordic, and Dantean (Divine Comedy) cosmology for example, and even I suppose in esoteric systems like Kabbalah and Theosophy.  But this approach, which I do use, also lacks a certain subtlety.   So I’m also striving for something more, though I’m not yet sure what for it will take.  Anyway, we’ll see how things turn out.