Saturday, March 10, 2007
I'm watching the movie Paycheck right now. It's actually not all that bad. It's about an engineer who builds incredible devices and then gets his memory erased, so that he doesn't know what he's done. On this assignment he ends up building a machine through which people can see the future. Only he sees terrible things, and after his memory is erased he finds himself running from death with only clues and little items that he had the forsight to send himself from when he saw the future. It's kind of cool. But somewhere along the line, they figure out that the future telling machine will actually make the world worse. They see pictures of the future, and they realize that knowledge of the future heightens all the world's dilemmas. Knowledge of war leads to preemptive strikes. Knowledge of economic failure leads to stock market panics. Through knowing the future. the people lose their choices. Take away the mystery, says Ben Affleck, and you take away hope. You take away drive, you take away strength and bring despair. I dont' know that this would be true, but I can imagine. If you knew what kind of failures awaited you, perhaps you wouldn't even try. But where would not trying get you? Absolutely nowhere. But trying and failing, that is not the end. It is merely a step along the path. It reminds me slightly of Minority Report. The attempt to change the future vs. the complacent acceptance of what will be. They're some interesting ideas.