Skip to main content

Whose Reality Is It?

The critically acclaimed movie Another Earth is something of a hot bed of discussion among Sci-Fi fans. Opinion is sharply divided on what is depicted in the film. It appears that how one interprets the story depends on what you believe is the actual reality intended by producers. There are two plausible realities (or may be even more) and reviews differ accordingly.




















In plausible reality one, 17 year old Rhoda Williams is a clever astronomy student who is about to go to MIT. On the night of celebration she gets drunk and her car crashes into composer John Burroughs, killing his pregnant wife and baby son. On the same night, an identical planet to Earth is discovered – heading towards earth (a mirror Earth). Rhoda goes 4 years in prison and comes back out living with her parents. She becomes a school janitor and submits an essay to a contest where the prize is a ticket to travel to Earth 2. In middle of all this her and John have fallen in love (John does not know who she truly is). So Rhoda now has to take a decision whether she goes or stays, but she wants to tell John the truth first.

In this plausible reality of the plot, the themes that emerge clearly are around broken dreams, guilt and redemption. Rhoda has missed out big time on a brighter future and now she subjects herself working as janitor, rubbing off graffiti and effectively carrying her cross! She has not forgiven herself. The falling in love with John represents a real moral dilemma. Will she embrace her shame to the full extent and risk losing John by telling him the truth (hurting him for the second time) or will she simply run off to this new planet, which offers a fresh physical start but an imprisoned conscience?

In plausible reality two, 17 year old Rhoda Williams is a clever astronomy student who is about to go to MIT. On the night of celebration she gets drunk and whilst driving home she hears a rap DJ jokingly announces on the radio that a second identical planet has been discovered, a fact that intrigues the astronomical student in her drunken state. In that very moment, she crashes into the car of composer John Burroughs, killing his pregnant wife and baby son. She emerges from the crash disoriented with the scene of the crash firmly itched on her mind – when a large mirror Earth appears. Rhoda goes 4 years in prison and comes back out living with her parents – but she has not really returned. She lives in a world of the second Earth. We are shown the inner life of Rhoda as she dreams of redemption by working as janitor, falling in love with her victim and travelling to outer space.

In this plausible reality of the plot, Earth 2 now exists in the mind of the drunken student who becomes deluded after a tragic crash – a sort of inner dialogue or consciousness. Her last memory is the joke of the rap DJ that frames her in new state. Trapped in this world, she recreates her own world where she is no longer the shamed drunken student but the hero who wins a passage to Earth 2 and then sacrifices herself to pay back John. She is deluded about the true meaning of repentance. She has invented imaginary house-cleaning and love with her victim, as a form of atonement for the careless driving which has cost three lives. In this reality her 'repentance' in the end is falling in love with the pain and finding rhythm in it (a sort of Eastern religion worldview). In one scene she retells this story which gets across her life :
You know that story of the Russian cosmonaut? So, the cosmonaut, He's the first man ever to go into space. Right? The Russians beat the Americans. So he goes up in this big spaceship, but the only habitable part of it's very small. So the cosmonaut's in there, and he's got this portal window, and he's looking out of it, and he sees the curvature of the Earth for the first time. I mean, the first man to ever look at the planet he's from. And he's lost in that moment. And all of a sudden this strange ticking... Begins coming out of the dashboard. Rips out the control panel, right? Takes out his tools. Trying to find the sound, trying to stop the sound. But he can't find it. He can't stop it. It keeps going. Few hours into this, begins to feel like torture. A few days go by with this sound, and he knows that this small sound... will break him. He'll lose his mind. What's he gonna do? He's up in space, alone, in a space closet. He's got 25 days left to go... with this sound. So the cosmonaut decides... the only way to save his sanity... is to fall in love with this sound. So he closes his eyes... and he goes into his imagination, and then he opens them. He doesn't hear ticking anymore. He hears music. And he spends the sailing through space in total bliss... and peace.
And of course that is exactly what she does. She falls in love with the imagination and seeks to cope with the pain through it.

There’s much we can discuss on the moral issues raised in these contested narratives of what is happening in the movie. But the main point is that what we believe to be true reality matters to everyone. The reason it matters is because we know every story, including our life story, has a designer. We also know the story is not randomly assembled by the Designer, it exists to communicate something. The design and designer gives us the sense of its true reality. Our problem is that we have multiple possibilities. Now it does not matter how plausible those explanations are, at the end of the day we feel empty at the possibility that multiple alternatives exists. What we really want to know is what the creator of the movie really thinks. We recognise that there can be no peace without that central perspective. When it is all said and done the reality that matters is of the designer.

What is true of the movie is also true of life! We may have myriads of intelligent explanations about the meaning of our lives. We may twist the truth of life about this and that. We may even live in denial and say that our lives show show that there’s no real reality, but at the end of the day the possibility that other explanations may exist trouble us. Relativism and post-modernism that opens to multiple streams of competing truths does not deliver peace, it delivers an endless search for answers. The reason the individual searches is precisely because we are reasoning about life. Ultimately what we are really looking to hear is the word from the Designer! We won’t be content until our view of reality has found meaning. St Paul alludes to this in the Acts of the Apostles when he says :
From one man [God] made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.
Embedded the in the human consciousness is this search for God. In the end the only reality that matters is God’s and therefore we are not looking at our lives right unless we looking through his eyes. We are not thinking right about living, unless we are thinking God’s thoughts after him. He is the reality of all realities.

Question: why does the idea that there may be many realities of truth appeal to people?

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jesus Never Fails

Many a times in my life, the words of this childhood hymn has been a tremendous encouragement. I pray this may encourage you too. Keep looking to Jesus!
Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails.
Your mother will let you down Your father will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails.
Your husband will let you down Your wife will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails
Your brothers will let you down Your sisters-will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails
Your church will let you down Your work will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails
Your friends will let you down Your country will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails
Your wealth will let you down Your health will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails
Copyri…

Pornography as Occultism

There is a kind of helplessness that a man engaged in pornography exhibits. He often speaks of it in terms of a “struggle” or an “addiction.” Now both of those terms are accurate, I believe, but they distance a person from his sin in a soul-decaying manner. Pornography is not just an addiction; it is occultism. The man who sits upstairs viewing pornography while his wife chauffeurs the kids to soccer practice is not some unusual “pervert”; he is (like his forefather Adam) seeking the mystery of the universe apart from Christ. That’s the reason the one picture, stored in his memory, of that naked woman will never be enough for him. He will never be able to be satisfied because he will never be able to get an image naked enough. I say pornography is occultism because I believe the draw toward it is more than biological (though that is strong). The satanic powers understand that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). They understand that the pornographic …

7 fascinating facts about Bexleyheath

I just finished reading Bexleyheath : A History by John Mercer as part of my effort to know a little about the history of our new local area. We have been living here for the last four months and it is a wonderful area indeed. Here are seven fascinating things about Bexleyheath mentioned in the book.

1. Two hundred years ago much of Bexley Heath was an area of wide-open land largely uncultivated. It was not until 1894, that the two words were put together.

2. On 5 June 1739, George Whitfield, a prominent preacher associated with John Wesley, came to the highway and preached by the pond opposite the Golden Lion. He was welcomed to the district by Henry Piers, Vicar of St Mary's (Bexley), who was a supporter of the new evangelical movement which was to become later known as the Methodist Church. Over 300 gathered to hear Whitfield preach from his horse: travellers, labourers, gypsies and villagers from Bexley village.
3. One of the early inhabitants of Bexlyheath was the polish emigre …