Monday, December 21, 2015

What "Stars Wars" and "Going Clear" Have In Common: When "The Force" Is a Farce

I just watched the HBO documentary Going Clear--again. (What can I say? I find the topic endlessly fascinating.) It occurs to me that the powers one is supposed to acquire once one has "moved up the Bridge to the highest level(s)" sound a lot like Star Wars' "the force" as described by New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane:
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is, as the title suggests, aimed squarely at anyone who was worried that the Force was asleep on the job. Not that you can blame it for dozing off. One virtue of the new film is that it encourages viewers to ask afresh: What is the Force, exactly? I always assumed it was something that George Lucas dreamed up after too many Tolkien-themed parties at U.S.C. Like the One Ring, the Force can be wielded for both good and evil ends, but then so can a set of screwdrivers. We learn, from this latest installment, that the Force moves through all living things, which sounds lovely, if a trifle nebulous, yet the uses to which people put it, in the course of the narrative, seem highly specialized and precise. For instance, if you find yourself shackled to a torture rack in the stronghold of your enemy, you can brainwash your guard into releasing your fetters and leaving the door open. Very handy. Better yet, if the hilt of your light sabre is partially buried in snow and you can’t reach it, the Force—manifesting itself as a superior wobble—can pull the weapon out for you, like a splinter from your thumb.
I have to say that "the force" in Star Wars sounds a lot more plausible than the powers acquired via Bridge-climbing. As well, the price of the Star Wars movie, plus refreshments, is a pittance compared to the mega-thousands of dollars you're expected to fork out over the course of the climbing--and climbing, and climbing, and somehow never managing to reach the summit.

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