The central disability for most writers of history, as of poetry, drama, and fiction, is probably bewilderment and anxiety in the loss of old landmarks , and the overturn of long-accepted truths. They are stunned by the rapidity, multiplicity, and immensity of the revolutions of our age, and baffled by the enormous enlargement of knowledge, and a sense of perspective that whirls incessantly and new tools constantly replace old. …
Social radicalism implied in the idea of progress has probably been a greater enemy than its rationalism. And this is particularly true of the last hundred years. Industrialization impels social change: old certainties of class, status and education get washed away. Nor is it a gentle process. It has in its early stages been as brutal as any historical movement, in the same way our information age, with the looming technological unemployment and deflationary pressures are hovering above our present condition.
Sensitive people, bred in stable middle-class traditions, frightened for their values and their status, tend to lose historical judgement. The result is a fleeing to a never-never land of rustic glory where every peasant is a craftsman and, no matter how crude or poorly educated, radiates an “inner life” brimming with “authenticity.” Its the equivalent of escaping into a bogus medievalism that exalts Mont-Saint-Michel as the pinnacle of human achievement.
Yet such absurd attitudes , understandable as they are, are propagated endlessly and easily believed; from Michale Moore’s idyllic 1960′s labor movement, to Jared Diamond, to James Cameron and Avatar, Dancing with Wolves,Naomi Klein tracing the route of Emma Goldman, we seem to swallow the romanticism wholesale while ignoring the sheer horror of the past; the filth, disease, the brutishness of the pleasures, the tyrannies and gross superstitions, yet it still endures somehow that a peasant or feudal sharecropper had a ore enriching life than a white collar office worker. Evidently they never Saw a Bruegel painting, or a Hogarth illustration.
Would it surprise them to learn that, in the societies they adulate, dying Blacks were thrown by the score into the Atlantic for the sake of the insurance; that small girls and boys were strung up on gibbets for petty theft; that men were castrated, disembowelled, and quartered in public; that these were not exceptional events but commonplace and repeated without protest? Yet we continue to absorb the constant denigration of the present, and the complementary corruption of scholarship and basic facts that passes as social, political and economic criticism in the age of digital superstar celebrities playing at social media. The result is an undermining of confidence in present society, that it is of no great importance, but in those qualities by which people have bettered themselves: technical cunning, applied intelligence, and a capacity to risk change.
The distaste for the horrors of consumerism, is rather a dislike of essence rather than manifestation. A wish of rejection. A preference to retain the social and cultural exclusiveness of an agrarian and commercial society, of the world of Jane Austen, of Anthony Trollope, of Rudyard Kipling, of American Graffiti. Hence we are always in a cycle of cults; of D.H. Lawrence, to Kerouac, to jaded pop stars, all fitting into he gifted beatnik category first brought to the fore by Thoreau, or W.H. Hudson, or even Baudelaire; men who loved life and disliked humanity; men of sensitive hearts and thick heads, all backward looking and tradition drugged and ultimately socially imp
James Cameron’s Avatar tells the story of a disabled ex-marine, sent from earth to infiltrate a race of blue-skinned aboriginal people on a distant planet and persuade them to let his employer mine their homeland for natural resources. Through a complex biological manipulation, the hero’s mind gains control of his “avatar”, in the body of a young aborigine.
These aborigines are deeply spiritual and live in harmony with nature (they can plug a cable that sticks out of their body into horses and trees to communicate with them). Predictably, the marine falls in love with a beautiful aboriginal princess and joins the aborigines in battle, helping them to throw out the human invaders and saving their planet. At the film’s end, the hero transposes his soul from his damaged human body to his aboriginal avatar, thus becoming one of them….
…Cameron’s superficial Hollywood Marxism (his crude privileging of the lower classes and caricatural depiction of the cruel egotism of the rich) should not deceive us. Beneath this sympathy for the poor lies a reactionary myth, first fully deployed by Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous. It concerns a young rich person in crisis who gets his (or her) vitality estored through brief intimate contact with the full-blooded life of the poor. What lurks behind the compassion for the poor is their vampiric exploitation….
…an array of brutal racist motifs: a paraplegic outcast from earth is good enough to get the hand of abeautiful local princess, and to help the natives win the decisive battle. The film teaches us that the only choice the aborigines have is to be saved by the human beings or to be destroyed by them. In other words, they can choose either to be the victim of imperialist reality, or to play their allotted role in the white man’s fantasy….Read More:http://www.newstatesman.com/film/2010/03/avatar-reality-love-couple-sex