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One of my favorite quotations from Avatar is when Jake is starting to truly become a Na'vi and says "everything's backwards. It feel like out there is the real world and in here is the dream." I think it not only captures perfectly the transition we see Jake go through in the film, but also a profound sense that many of us feel in our everyday lives. There are people out there who have such a hard time with everyday life, that the only solace they can find is asleep in their dreams.
What concerns me is that there are those people that use that temporary escape to justify their existence. Like a drug, they escape only to be pulled back down to reality and feel even worse than when they left. The hard truth is that reality exists, but what we can draw hope from is that we are in control of our destinies and that our reality is not beyond our ability to shape it. In addition to Avatar I will also refer to another movie that I often quote from: The Matrix. Both have a similar theme relating to the perception of reality. In The Matrix it is more concrete: Neo has been experiencing a computer generated illusion for his entire life and is taken from that and wakes up to the real world. In Avatar, it is more abstract: Jakes world both coexist as the objective reality, but has come to regard his time spent with the Na'vi as his real life, and the time spent in the futuristic, identifiable future the RDA represents as a place he only visits.
The differences between these films also goes much deeper, which are the real point of this blog. In Avatar, we envy Jake because the real world that he gets to wake up to is a peaceful and happy existence with the Na'vi. In the Matrix, Neo wakes up from the drudgery of a "normal" life into the hellish nightmare landscape of the machine controlled future. The question posed to us is, where do we find happiness: in dreams or in reality? From there, we then need to ask ourselves, how can I make reality into the dream?
For me, I often experience both. There are more than plenty of times when I wake up and say "this world has a lot wrong with it". There are times when I almost feel crushed by the weight of seeing the horrible things in the world, and the thought that socially speaking our species is circling the proverbial drain. But it is these instances where I am faced with the inadequacies of the world that I am able to define my path and say to myself "I am going to better myself, and through that thus better the world". Actions like that lead to more frequent dreams where I am able to wake up and say "this world is not so bad".
To give a personal example, my trials and tribulations have paid off, and I am now working as a Production Assistant on a film directed by and starring Vera Farmiga. Through my efforts in this movie, I have already been offered other jobs on other movies. Through diligence, hard work, and more importantly perseverance, I am finally doing that thing where I can wake up with a smile on my face. But I am no different than anyone else, save for the fact that I refuse to let the unfettered decay of human society impede my progress through life.
Avatar, as I have said many times before, resonates with me because of it's acurate portrayal of humanity in 150 years. The movie serves as both a dream, and a nightmare, because it shows us a philosophy that promotes peace and harmony, against the freakish result of a downward spiral that we are already facing. Humanity truly is at the point now where we are swimming against the current. Just look at what society values. Instead of promoting the intelligent, it rewards the stupid. Rather than rewarding the hard-workers, it feeds the parasites. While the ignorant and the lazy multiply by the millions, the diligent and honorable defer on making families. As intelligent beings, we have eliminated natural selection from the human condition. But now what other criteria ushers human evolution? What elements define our social progress? Unfortunately, in a world where we do not know what is good for us, we have chosen a path that will impede us further than it will enhance us.
As hard as it can be sometimes, I will never turn away from the ugliness of the world. By seeing it, we can identify it, and improve it. We can wake up to our nightmare world and with our dreams still fresh in our minds, look out over the landscape and cry out "We can still save ourselves!" Irayo Willofeywa 02:24, May 20, 2010 (UTC)