The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis is quite possibly my favorite work of science fiction, particularly if you define “favorite” as “books you’ve read the most”. I’ve read the entire trilogy four times, and I’ve read That Hideous Strength six times.
Book One: Out of the Silent Planet
Dr. Elwin Ransom, philologist, university professor, (Lewis based this character on his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien) is kidnapped by Dr. Weston and taken to Mars. Dr. Ransom discovers that the earth is exiled from the rest of the solar system due to its fallen nature.
Lewis presents a beautiful and thought-provoking imaginary anthropological analysis of the cultures on Mars. There is one particular scene in this book that makes me cry every time I read it.
Book Two: Perelandra
There is more of importance in this small work than in just about any contemporary work on philosophy or theology. Ransom finds himself on a type of virginal Venus. Dr. Weston is possessed by demonic forces and is attempting to destroy an Eve-like character and the wonderful world she inhabits.
Some of the best dialog I’ve ever read, Dostoyevsky-like in power and impact.
Book Three: That Hideous Strength
This one takes place on Earth, in a fictional university town in England. A think-tank like organization known as N. I. C. E. is trying to take over the world. While the leaders of N. I. C. E. talk a good game, they are opening up the world to an unspeakable evil. Dr. Ransom returns, in an albeit smaller role.
This is my favorite of the three, although it is quite different than the other two.
4. The Crucible: Watching Day-Lewis and Ryder on the screen in this very capable adaptation of Arthur Miller’s classic is worth your time. Who knew Puritans could be so damn sexy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible_(1996_film)
3. The Boxer: I’m a sucker for any movie set in Ireland involving the IRA, boxing, guns, lots of Guinness drinking and chain smoking. Add a terrific story, well-written screenplay, some fabulous acting by Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Watson, and Brian Cox and you’ve got me. You had me at guns, Guinness and chain-smoking.
2. The Age of Innocence: A love triangle involving Michelle Pfeiffer and Wynona Rider….Do I need to write more? Okay, the book this movie was based on, written by Edith Wharton, won the Pulitzer in 1921. More?? Directed by Martin Scorsese. That should satisfy you.
1. Gangs of New York: And you thought New York City was rough in the 1980’s. If this is anything close to what New York was actually like during the middle of the 19th century….let’s just say the movie offers you a chance to take a look at a side of U.S. History you may have missed while you were in school. Scorsese directs. DiCaprio is good, Day-Lewis is amazing.
5. Chewed Up: Louis CK
I’m a big Louis CK fan and if you are not easily offended, you will be too. He’s about as “blue” as they come, but he is incredibly smart and it’s hard not to like the guy, even when he is being very very….He is an incredibly funny and utterly unique comic.
4. Ghost Adventures: Season 1-4
One of my favorite series on TV. Whether you believe in the possibility of life after death or not this show is worth watching just for the pure entertainment value it offers. Furthermore, you can learn a lot about the history of the American sanitarium system and other various locations (prisons, hotels, saloons, honky tonks) as these guys give the historical background of each of their investigation sites. These guys are also a hoot to watch.
3. Back To School
Come on now…Rodney Dangerfield going to college what could be more mindlessly entertaining? It’s worth watching just to see Robert Downey Jr. as a young fleshy faced ultra-geek. It’s also got that blond dude who played the bad guy in just about every movie from the eighties…you know Johnny from Karate Kid (William Zabka). Plus Kurt Vonnegut makes an appearance.
I love this movie. Mark Wahlberg plays a talented “wanna be” who gets a shot to be the lead singer for the heavy metal band he’s idolized his entire life. Jennifer Anniston….how can you not like her? Dominic West (The Wire) is in it, Sebastian Bach, Zakk Wylde, Jason Bonham (if you don’t know who they are then shame on you). Good entertainment with a timeless message.
Probably the most daring and innovative film I’ve ever seen. I promise you, you’ll be thinking about this one for a long time…whether you want to or not. Warning…it is disturbing, very disturbing. Guy gets locked away in a hotel room for some 15 and has no idea why. One day he is released, given a cell phone and starts getting calls from the guy who imprisoned him. The mysterious caller starts dropping clues and our hero (Dae-Su, Choi Min-sik) gets a chance to exact some revenge. The spoilers will ruin it for you, so don’t read them.
The pineal gland, the third eye, the seat of the soul, the Ajna Chakra.
The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the brain. It is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres.
Descartes believed the pineal gland was the “seat of the soul”.
The pineal gland is believed to be the biological locus of spiritual experience (see the work of Dr. Rick Strassman, DMT: The Spirit Molecule) and is alleged to be highly “activated” when people obtain mystical states.
The pineal gland appears in the human fetus at around 49 days of gestational development.
Interestingly enough, Tibetan Buddhists believe that 49 days is the amount of time it requires for one soul to incarnate into the next. Furthermore, the differentiation of the fetus into male or female also occurs at the 49 day mark.
During World War II Japanese and American forces often staged in the Pacific Islands. The native inhabitants of these islands, in particular the Melanesians, had little to no contact without outside cultures, especially cultures that were as technologically advanced as the United States or Japan.
U.S. and Japanese forces would often airdrop “cargo” on to these islands. This cargo generally contained supplies of food and medicine and other goods to be used by the soldiers. Often the soldiers would share these supplies with the native inhabitants of the islands.
You can imagine what it must have been like for members of a pre-industrial, pre-historical culture used to hunting, fishing, and foraging to suddenly encounter large amounts of prepared food dropped from the sky by strange mechanical birds. What’s more, the advanced medicines must have seemed like something akin to magic.
Of course, World War II ended and the U.S. and Japanese forces left these islands and did not return for many years. When the soldiers and their supplies of medicine and food disappeared “cargo cults” developed.
These cargo cults were basically religious groups whose main purpose was to offer prayers and supplications to “the gods” in order to get them to return. The inhabitants of these islands even built life size monuments that looked like airplanes hoping to call back the visitors and their gifts.
In a nutshell you have an encounter between a highly advanced culture and a more primitive culture that led to the formation of a type of religion.
Is this what happened to human culture so many thousands of years ago? Was human society originally visited by a highly advanced culture, i.e. alien visitors, at the dawn of history? Was it through this interaction that various religions and spiritual practices were created and eventually sustained?
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi) has dropped out of directing the upcoming film The Wolverine (starring Hugh Jackman…of course). The movie was supposed to start filming this month and come out in theaters in 2012.
Here’s a few movies that are now available on Netflix Instant Watch that you may not know about.
5. This Is Spinal Tap: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_Spinal_Tap
If you haven’t seen this one you’re missing out. The mockumentary that started it all?
4. Thunderheart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderheart
Good film with Val Kilmer and Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves). Val Kilmer plays an FBI agent sent to an Indian Reservation in South Dakota to investigate a political murder.
3. 8 Mile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8_Mile_(film)
A surprisingly compelling film. Eminem does a fine job with his performance, the story is compelling, and the final battle is amazing. I recommend it, even if you don’t like rap.
2. Mesrine: Killer Instinct: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1259014/
The story of French gangster Jacque Mesrine. Vincent Cassel is amazing. If you don’t mind subtitles, this is a high quality gangster film.
1. Slingblade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slingblade
One of my favorite movies of all time. Written and directed by and starring Billy Bob Thornton, this is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and funny movie. Dwight Yoakam delivers an amazing performance.