Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I could not help but that todays reading, "The Streets of Ashkelon”, bore an uncanny resemblance to the preface of Avatar. The idea of innocent, often depicted as "tribal", natives living in a virtual paradise seems to be a common theme in literature critiquing our cultural trends. This however seems to have created its own cultural swing. Harrison's short story, published in 1962, seems in many ways to be pointing towards religion as the corrupter of innocence. This trend falls in line with the general sentiment of the original Star Trek and many other works of science fiction being published and aired at that time. To my eye however, it appears that the pendulum has swung back and now we have movies such as Avatar and District 9 etching a view that seems to depict progress has the great destroyer. In these movies, enterprising scientists are in essence thwarted by the progressive notion of capitalism, and capitalism is basically depicted as greed. But see, I think the problem here is that religion and science are often at odds with each other, even though they are both harmless in their basic form. It is only when you use one or the other as a means to achieve an end based in greed that either ideology has its innocence corrupted. The textbook example of extremism in either are rooted in greed...religion's blemish of the Crusades was a war for territory and wealth much more than for religion. The nameless atrocities of Joseph Stalin's self-proclaimed atheistic and scientific state were merely attempts by him to consolidate his power. This is why I find the storyline of Avatar to be much more plausible than that of “The Streets of Ashkelon”...I don't think religion, or science for that matter, would have robbed an oblivious alien of its innocence. However, I do think if you taught the aliens to care for no one but themselves than you might indeed corrupt them.