The Ultimate Question of Existence

Recently, I watched the newly released movie in theater-Jurassic Park: The fallen kingdom. Overall, it was a good movie, technically and otherwise. The usual plot of any Jurassic Park/world movie is almost the same, someone gets greedy and wants to use genetic technology and the dinosaurs for some purpose. For example, John Hammond wanted to create something very amazing with his money and influence so he built the theme park to astonish the world by having living dinosaurs in it, the next part has his son bringing out the T-rex for selling it to a park, the third part deals with adrenaline junkie kids to visit the island for adventure. Then there is ‘Jurassic world’ series, where the park is rebuilt and we see two parties- 1] park’s founding body who thinks that dinosaurs are just another toy to show in the amusement park & 2] The military who wants to create dinosaur species to hunt given target. In the end, everyone learns his lesson in the end in his own way.Jurassic-World-Fallen-Kingdom-Poster_opt

The latest sequel talks about one more problem-the volcano on Isla Numblar getting more and more active, and having the potential to burn the island completely which would cause the elimination of all the dinosaur species from earth (once again). This starts a conflict, whether to let mother nature rule (let the dinosaurs die) or to meddle in her business (and save them by displacing them to a new island). Immediately there are two groups, those who want to save the dinosaurs and those who don’t want to take any additional actions. There is a third hidden group of the opportunists, who deceive the first group to track the dinosaurs on the island and capture them for experimentation and military purposes.

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The lone diplodocus on Isla Numblar

There is one incident in the movie where, from the island, military men rescue as many dinosaur species as possible and take them on their military ship. The time is critical and the volcano is on the peak of destruction. Everyone reaches on board and suddenly they all hear an excruciating sound, the sad cries of a giant Diplodocus (sort of), who was left behind, standing alone on the deck. As if she was calling them to come back for her, or saying her goodbyes, no one would know. No one could do anything. They didn’t return for her, maybe because she was just a harmless herbivore, who took too much space, and couldn’t be a killer. In seconds the lava erupted and poor dinosaur, who was once the crown jewel of the park and the epic magnanimous creature of the planet, was embraced by the flames. This triggers something in the viewers, that they can describe with no locution.

The senate witnesses a debate between first two groups-whether or not to save isla numblar’s dinosaurs from volcanic eruption? Tough question, because it starts its own list of questions-Who has more right to live than others? Who is the better one? Who has the right to decide that someone is better than others? Who gets the authority to decide everyone’s net worth? Is there any measure, any unit to describe that? How many units is good and how many is bad? What is good and what is bad?

SpecialNeedsThis reminded me of another movie, ‘The Oxford Murders’. In that, the protagonist-Martin, a university student, unravels the mystery of his landlady’s murder, while being fooled by his idol-Arthur Seldom-who is actually, trying to cover the murderer because of some guilt from past. Seldom makes Martin believe that a serial killer is challenging them by giving them a mathematical problem. But his puzzles are used as a cover by a desperate father of a seven year old girl in need of a lung transplant and he murders next few (who are already on the verge of dying). He plans to blow up the school-bus of differently abled kids and use one of their lungs for his daughter’s transplant. He dies in the ordeal, but the curious thing is, why did he think it’s appropriate to take lives of those kids? Because their consciousness was not as developed as ours? Does it make them insignificant? SnowpiercerThe French graphic novel Le Transperceneige (on which the movie Snowpiercer is based) shows the struggle-to live on the same footage, in the ice age caused by a failed global warming experiment, done by humans of course-between the high and low classes of humans-not caring about the whereabouts of other elements of the planet’s biological sector. It, therefore, indirectly shows the narcissistic human nature-how little we care about others, may they be other humans or creatures.

There are many movies and fiction shows that show similar line of existential crisis. It’s funny how the production houses for such movies (which are mostly Hollywood, Marvel or Warner Bros, etc.) keep their own countries at the center of the decision making body in the movie and still make money on an international level. Even in kid’s cartoon, Doraemon shows Japanese earth’s representative in outer space, the Potterverse mentions the magical population from only Europe. This is of course obvious, everyone favors their own troupe. We naturally feel safe in a familiar environment with people we know. This natural instinct-a characteristic feature representing our animalistic lineage-is interpreted by human population as a license to berate the unfamiliar.

In his book Sapiens-A brief history of mankind, Yuval Noah Harari has beautifully given account of the socio-psycho-biological evolution of mankind. There were more than six species under the category of ‘Humans’ (under the genus Homo) one of which are us, Homo sapiens. What made the others decline making us the only human species? Or the question should be, what is so special about sapiens that they are the only lasting members of the said genus? evolutionThe answer is cognitive evolution, which involves more than just communication skills. Many animals and humans (other than sapiens) could say ”Careful! A lion!”-to make others aware and run or to fool them away from food. But a modern human-sapien-can tell her friends that this morning near the bend in the river, she saw a lion tracking a herd of bison. She can then describe the exact location, including different paths leading to the area. With this data, they all can discuss whether they should approach the the river, chase away the lion and hunt the bison.

This cognitive revolution also allows Homo sapiens to acquire the ability to say ”The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.” Only us sapiens can construct and believe in a world based entirely on fiction. This enables us to cooperate on a massive level-using one faith system, we just have to believe in the guardian spirit of lion-even without forming intimate bonding with each other, which is crucial in animals to trust each other. This is our secret behind the dominance over other species.But this comes with a great responsibility, because we live in a world that has a huge number of elements connected by webs intermingled in each other in a complicated fashion. It needs to be intact because we can’t afford any single thread in the web to be broken.

I’d say in accordance with the cognitive revolution theory, our current behavior-showing favoritism towards the familiar/useful ones and thrashing others-is very ‘un-sapien-like’. We are supposed to be cooperating with everyone of us, so that the web is not disturbed. That’s the ultimate purpose of our existence, looking at the history of evolution. If everyone understands this, it’d be easier for us to decide what to do with the dinosaurs in Isla Numblar.

The pitch of the raindrops

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She loved the smell of rain. It would clear her mind, and fill it with mixed emotions. She also loved the constant tapping of raindrops. It worked as a metronome for her musical brain. She had enormous compositions in her brain that she hummed with that rhythm. In her leisure time-which was all the time-she used to make and develop different drums, an old hobby from childhood, using the empty food cans. The nurses were always happy to provide her the extra cans for her creativity. This being the peak activity, and the bridge crossing the river remaining closed in the rainy season together brought her eternal bliss; because nobody would bother her for at least those four months in the year.

Not that she hated them-her family-she loved them. She had a lovely daughter who was literally the light of her life currently staying with her grandma who loved her equally, and a husband who loved her in his own way. But the walls of the asylum were more peaceful than anything. In that bunch of psychos and in all the craziness surrounding her, it was highly challenging to maintain sanity as well as existence. Pretending to be taking the drug dosage and acting maniacally sometimes-just to maintain appearances-was not really easy. But she had to stay free and safe so she had to do it all. It was the only way to keep the sane population safe. Living as a crazy woman here in the asylum was way better than being constantly on nerves.

She was free here under the roof of the asylum. Sometimes she wondered if she did the right thing by taking all the blame. But she loved her husband, she loved him fiercely and would do whatever he said. She took all the blame to avail him with the freedom and to let the mission of killing go on. There was one more reason of staying there. It was odd, the love between the two. But he never understood her. She was tired of staying with him, despite her love, because he used to publicly blame her for having a sort of personality disorder. And, she dreaded the time when he used to watch the news reports of unsolved murders committed by the killer. Killer remained unknown by everyone except the two of them for a long time. She kept quiet, she tried hard; but she hated significant lives getting wasted. So she succumbed to his story of the personality disorder and left him on his own for good, so as she assured herself.

The rain was constantly tapping on her drums. They were of different thicknesses and different depths, giving different pitch to each drum. She was enjoying the cup of tea, and humming while taking account of all the pitches and scales of the drums she had made. Of course it wasn’t a complete set-getting the perfect pitch was a tedious job-she was missing a D# in the set. The head psychiatrist was pleased with her creativity and she had given her an extra cabin for her art and craft. She called the room as ‘the heaven’ and was allowed to have scheduled visits there. It was time for her next trip to ‘the heaven’. She waited for the attendant to take her there.

She was completely engrossed in her work, and didn’t hear the knock on the door. They knocked again. Someone had come to visit her. She sat back, and he entered. “Hi.. how are you? This is amazing, are these real drums?”

She was taken aback and a little shocked, to see him at such an odd timing, so couldn’t answer. She simply turned and continued her work. He wasn’t affected, he sat on the chair opposite to her placing his elbows on the table and chin resting on knuckles. She was unnerved by the scrutinizing look he gave her, and he noticed that, quickly removing his gaze from her. She gave him a calculating look.

“How are you?” He asked again.

“Why did you come here in the rains?” She snapped at him.

“Well, I just wanted to handover this card made by Elise for you. She wanted to make sure you get your thank you card in advance for the gift you’ll give her for her birthday next month. Wicked girl she is!”

She took the card and examined it carefully. Without saying a word she kept it in the drawer. The institution was very friendly and believed in the fact that homely environment sped up the recovery. She got up and said “I’ll get as cake for you from the pantry.” and left. The attendant was off for the restroom so she went on her own-of course she was one of the well behaved and that’s why previleged patients-and came back with a cake. He smiled, thanked her and took a bite of the piece of the cake that she cut for him. They passed the time in silence while he ate the cake and she cut the outlines on the cans.

“It’s late now.” She stated, after a while.

He suddenly started to feel a rising headache. He got up, “Oh yes. I don’t know why I am feeling a bit dull. I think I should take your leave…”

“No, I think you shouldn’t.” She made him sit down. He looked puzzled. But the sleep was overcoming his rational mind. Suddenly, the lights went off.

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The cup of tea, along with the smell of the wet soil from the window and the raindrops tapping on the drum kept alongside was overwhelming. She started humming again. This time in D#, the octave was complete now. ‘Maybe it needed an outside skin for that pitch. After the crazy insignificant ones here, it’s okay to sacrifice a sane one I guess.’ she thought.