Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Avatar! The 3D Movie & Your Brain/Body?

'I See You!' What does it Really Mean?
Wow! What a Movie! Has Jake become the new 007, ’The names Sully, Jake Sully’ & is “scoun” now a buzz word for moron. Have countless Princess Neytiri’s screamed in the bedroom, ’Sa’Helu! Make the bond Jake, make the bond.’

Avatar has something for everyone no matter what need the individual brings to the movie, from kick ass adolescents and romantics to concrete literalist critics and even wise old spiritual warriors.

There are layers to this movie that speak to the level of insight, awareness and experience of every individual movie goer, having it‘s subliminal affect on all who watch it. As some have noted it’s the closest thing yet to a lucid dream, with it’s immersive 3D technology, and as wise historians know, lucid dreams and madness have had more impact on human history than we dare consciously admit, or are we just blinded by instinct?

As highly vulnerable and dependant newborn’s the human journey begins in a state of primary narcissism, (all is baby, all is one) before we begin learning how to be! Feeling secure is the directive need that shapes our perceptions, our instinctual, emotional response to life and is highly dependant on our right brain relationship to others. As the brilliant academic Alan Schore describes in “Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self” the brain’s important neurological maturation in the first three years of life, is experience dependent in relationship with the primary care giver and others, and becomes experience expectant through its neural associations.

I See You - You See Me
Alan Schore claims that “Affect Regulation” is the primary motivation for all human action, and yet we usually remain totally unaware of our innate affects, and the inter-regulating reactivity with others that we are unconsciously immersed in. - Matrix Movie? Hmm!
Is there an exchange of neural information here? Something like computer digital wifi, are we sharing a neural eye-fi connection perhaps? Eyes looking and somehow speaking beyond words, beyond thoughts, an electrochemical language of organic digitized neural information.

Avatar opens with the primal drums of Africa and Jake’s dream of flying so synonymous with freedom, then the metaphorical ’belly of the whale’, sees the start of the ‘hero’s journey‘. We see scenes of loss as Jake hears the poignant news of his brother’s death, whose ‘journey was ended for the paper in his pocket’ another blow to Jake’s already depleted sense of self with the loss of his legs. Monica McGoldrick calls loss ‘the pivotal human experience,‘ Jake is stopped in his tracks, his emotional position in his nuclear family group and the grunt brotherhood are severely disrupted. At this crisis point in his life he is opened for growth and higher ground or further defensive denial with the addictive aid of any mind numbing substance available.

Down on Pandora as the shuttle doors open and the new arrivals move across the tarmac we see the great unconscious reactivity of the human experience. ‘Fresh meat - Meals on wheels.’ Are these perceptive remarks about external reality or the internal need for sure footed certainty in an uncertain world. An instinctual self soothing sense of superiority defined by what we are not, the trigger completely unconscious. Impulsive irresistible animal insinct at the sight of a weaker creature, little different to the territorial display we see a few scenes later.

Our first sight of the Avatar body comes next, the giant blue body that is perhaps synonymous of the body that we in the left brain intellectualised west have lost touch with. Thanks to the loss of his mobility Jake no longer takes his body for granted and he is ready to be re-introduced to it through the right brain feeling sense and it‘s pre-verbal connection to nature. The blue bodies of the Na’vi are perhaps references to the blue skinned gods of Hindu religion and the God Krishna, and of coarse there is the ever present unconscious affect of the blue sky above us, that glorious life protecting atmosphere that sets this planet apart.

Next we see the first of his narrative video logs, is it representative of the daily journal that is so effective in personal growth therapies like Gestalt Therapy? We move on to meet Grace Augustine the shining dominant intellect whose shadow side is played so well by the muscle bound Colonel ‘I’m no dumb grunt’ Quaritch. As the coffin like neural simulator opens Grace goes straight into her dominance mode, ruling over her underlings much like Quaritch does with his marines. An emotional echo of the life eats life golden rule perhaps?

Next we meet Selfridge, the corporate weasel overlord who in a scene with Grace brilliantly depicts the malady of the current human condition. The cherished nugget of “unobtainium” that sells for twenty million a kilo, reflects our vision of the object in our so-called objectivity. Later this is suggested as the root of our in-san-ity by a savage who see's unteachable blindness in our intellectuality. The object is far more precious than Jake’s legs “in this economy.”

After Jake gets a first taste of his new body the Faustian drama plot is sketched out for us in a scene with Quaritch, whose larger than life pose and well intoned speech are a wonderful simulated caricature of how he thinks he should be (this is how you must behave as the man in charge.) Here Jake makes his pact with the devil in return for his lost mobility and his old familiar sense of self. Then we move into the forest and those primal scenes where we see the unbreakable rule in action, life eats life, it eats and is eaten.

Soon we are introduced to the Goddess Neytiri, Jake’s guide on this spiritual journey back to himself and the animal nature of his body. The first scene of pure spirit and the later scene on the tree trail might represent the time honoured feeling of serendipity, for as people like Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung describe, unaccountable coincidences occur like signposts along the way when your chosen path is the one you were born to walk into destiny.

Lost in the forest with nightfall approaching Jake is unaware that his ignorance of the terrain resonates with fear and hostility, triggering a resonant reaction in the surrounding animals. His fault:

‘Stupid! - Like a child - Don‘t know what to do!'

Jake is unaware of his innate instincts/affects and resonate emotional tones, his heart rate, his breath, his muscle tensions. He is blindly ignorant of the oracles advice ‘know thyself.’
Perhaps our universal resistance to becoming self aware is stimulated by one nine innate affects Silvan Tompkins calls distress. Distress is the vigilance alarm seen in the birth cry, a hard wired response evolved to maximize our chances of survival. Are we unconsciously stimulated away from sensation disturbing self inquiry, as our need to keep external vigilance rings the alarm.

As Jake is led into hometree we catch a glimpse of a young girl who is gyrating her hips towards the tree she is clinging to, is the movement sexual? Is she stimulating the para-sympathetic branch of her nervous system to act against the sympathetic branch and it’s fight/flight reaction to the sudden intense excitement. Does she unconsciously balance her autonomic nervous system, thereby regulating her instinctive avoidance or approach muscle reflexes. Perhaps an oblique reference to taboo on promiscuity, even though neuroscience has proven it to be a practical way of balancing the autonomic nervous system for stress relief, as useful as deep breathing. No wonder we love to masterbating - no pun intended about my name?

Next we are introduced to the archetype of the shaman, the psychic mother of Neytiri who is responsible for interpreting the intuitive call of the great goddess, be she seen as planetary mother or the universe itself. Is the shaman the embodied metaphor of right brain intuitive emotional intelligence and its attunement with nature, perhaps even the sub-atomic foundation of the universe itself?. Why is intuition seen as a famine trait? Is it a more para-sympathetically orientated nervous system that allows the female to stay closer to the rhythm's of nature, while the modern male is more prone to intellectual flight/fights.

The archetypal themes of this movie are universal and eternal; they bring into question the nature of being as the archetypes do with the rise and fall of each generation. Avatar is a movie for this generation, particularly in the so called civilized West where education is more likely to produce an economic widget than a well rounded soulful adult. Avatar is for the youth of today and the new-born’s who will help further our path to destiny as we rise from the primal forests in our journey to the stars.

Objective Realists or Lucid Dreamers?

Avatar will have an affect at this important time in our journey as a sentient species, it will have an affect on this generation, such is serendipity and the unfolding nature of the universe.
The movie is about the reality of nature and the schizoid split between instinct and intellect. ur unconscious childlike greed, grabbing all we can, oblivious to the consequences, still unaware of what we are. ‘Stupid like a child’, the hero’s journey is a growing awareness of what you are, not who you are. Joseph Campbell's term monomyth, also referred to as the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world.

The felling of home tree represents our wanton destruction of the great rain forests in the last couple of hundred years or so, our dishonour and disrespect for the ground that so nurtured us in our blind unconscious drive to dominate all we see.

In the human population on Pandora we see thin skinned vulnerable creatures immersed in an instinct driven reactivity they are barley aware of, we see denial of their animal origins even though the hierarchical structure of human community, with it’s dance of dominant and sub-dominant behaviour is reflective of every group animal on our planet. We see the lost kinship with nature and the false god of objects as a means to security and joy.

We see a binding of innate interest and excitement in the inanimate object as if the shiny thing held anything like the sparkle of the living eye that so ignites our life energies, our innate affects, our e-motivations, these affects are the essence and sense of being alive. Sylvan Tomkins nine innate affects are the root of what neuroscience now calls 'affective states' when trying to describe the deeper systemic reality of being.

We see rational words and narrative style used as tools to distance the head from the heart and the nature of reality. Words like ‘mean push’ as a euphemism for slaughter and ‘look at all that cheddar’ to mask the nature of theft, pillage and rape. We see delusion in our current understanding of reality as the way it really is, unaware how our postured intelligence is fired by instinct. Our cause and effect objectivity clings to an old paradigm conceptualisation of the universe as a mechanical clock, making it easier for the vulnerable animal and fledgling thinker to cope.

In objectifying ourselves we have lost touch with a universal dreamer, fascinated by our creative mind and its imaginative creations, yet still blinded by unconscious animal instinct too the nature of the mindful creator. Lucid dreams, what a waste of time they are, daydreamers are really useless, wasting their lives in unproductive self entertainment, hopeless! And of coarse when the lucid dream bursts through into our objective reality, its not just unproductive, its sheer bloody madness, obviously?

Of coarse the Avatar movie did not end with those wistful scenes of triumph and Jake Sully becoming Awake! It ending a few scenes before as Neytiri jumped to fire her arrow and Jake's mom shouted into the room.

"Luke! Stop playing with yourself and that bloody sauce, you'll make a terrible mess all over me carpet"

Shocked back into objective reality Jake scratched himself, then wondered into the kitchen.

"Why did you call me Luke mom?"

"I get you mixed up with your stupid brother sometimes, he thinks he can fucking fly too!"

Jake sat down and smiled at his mom, and she smiled back fondly pinching his cheek before uttering her fearful concern.

"Have you taken your pills today son? - You know the psychiatrist says you need them to control your mental illness"

"Psychosis! What would he know - he nearly shit himself when we talked about base jumping"

"Ah! Son"

So dear reader, what is an Avatar? What is Objective Reality & the true nature of Dreaming?