There is an emptiness in the air. A void. A friction that shouldn’t exist but does. Filling every space it finds. it suffocates. The air doesn’t feel cold, but is absent any warmth, as if hope was forbidden. In exile. Consumed by silence, unable to scream, meaningless as the echoes would be.
To be vulnerable. Afraid. Not of danger, but of your own existence. To fear yourself and not others. Afraid. Alone. Empty. A quiet desperation.
Life has no meaning without death, and death is meaningless without life. To wander aimlessly to the end; to breath emptiness into the void. To stumble and falter. Hoping. Dreaming.
To fill the void with philosophy. Unable to ease the friction. To understand more only to understand less. In the meaningless echoes are a spark of hope. A hope of meaning. A warmth in the void of existence. However elusive. Fleeting. Out of reach. Onwards we stumble. Into the void. In silence.

© 2015 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

While I have always been a fan of Neill Blomkamps previous work (District 9, Elysium), his latest movie, CHAPPiE, takes good cinema and story telling alot futher. The themes present within CHAPPiE and the questions it asks are refreshing in amongst the formulaic and predictable cinema that exists today.

Most of society believes our species is the only one that matters, the only one worth existing, superior to everything else. We struggle with anything different; a xenophobia that throughout history has struggled with race, religion and sexuality. We consider ourselves unique and superior as a result of an unfounded belief that we are the only species with consciousness. If anything threatens this idea, we wage wars and enforce servitude for the purpose of dominance and superiority.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau points out in the opening of The Social Contract, ‘Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’, which only emphases the restriction that learnt behaviour has in comparison to natural instinct. As highlighted within the frames of CHAPPiE, the innate behaviour is to care for all living existence, not destroy it. Throughout the story the only imposition of violence on others is for superiority and dominance, carried out by those who have only known violence. CHAPPiE successfully explores the idea that violence is learnt behaviour, with his innocence corrupted by humanity and its superiority complex.

Most cinema that introduces artificial intelligence does so with the view that it will cause the end of human existence, while Blomkamp does the opposite, making the statement that the biggest threat to human existence is a degraded state of humanity. We shouldn’t be fearful of others, we should be fearful of ourselves.

One of the more compelling scenes within the movie is where Deon is having a personal conversation with Chappie, who is resting with his back against the wall exhibiting human body language. As Chappie develops throughout the story, you begin to care for him, you get worried, you feel for him. If you didn’t feel these things you need to take a strong hard look at your humanity and your empathy.

On days like today, days that everyone has from time to time, we need some light to ease the dark settling into our lungs …

… Sarah Kay and spoken word poetry is always a good place to start.

To find a perfection in a moment, when the only thing that matters is her, and you, and the intimacy. The world can keep burning but in that moment, there exists a cosmic alignment of everything that is right in this existence. To know this, to fight for this, is why we exist

(found in my notebook, dated 20 July 2013.)

There is an irony in finding solace and understanding in your own work, written in times gone by.
We read to find an understanding in texts and words of those infinity wiser, yet sometimes the most profound and surprising is our own; words written in pain, in dire understanding. Wisdom we found in ourselves once, lost, and found again.

(found in my notebook, dated 20 July 2013.)

The night is only dark if you let it. It should never be as black as the rain on a cold winters eve. The night is our own, and shall never be lost in the abyss. We own the night, and we bring it warmth and light.

(found in my notebook, dated 15 July 2012.)

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. Friedrich Nietzsche (1886) Beyond Good and Evil

For a long time we find ourselves trying to understand monsters, to give reason to the past. In doing so, without realising it, we become the very same monster. It can take months to notice the monster that reflects in the mirror, slowly forming into our own demons. When we finally choose to unshackle the chains, removed from home, a hope reminds us of who we are. An unexpected face, a beautiful smile; soft hands that wash away the grime, uncovering our heart.
We know that a time will come, when we will return to a place where demons roam. To battle them on our own …

… In hope they don’t consume us again.

To sit somewhere, and feel more alone than ever before. Staring into the distance. Lost in thought. To feel the first moist droplet form and roll down your cheeks and into your lap. To feel the rest flow, silently, down the same path as the first. Each droplet representing every moment had, every moment felt, and every moment you desire again.  To feel sadness that sweeps you away into a place of sorrow. To find yourself still sitting there, alone.

At the critical moment, when all else is falling apart, roads are caving in, clouds are closing in; a long darkness envelopes the mind. A darkness we created. Sometimes we forget, we lose sight, we fall over. In the darkest of nights we become the very thing we hate. We embody the very darkness we set out to destroy; consumed. Never have we fallen so far.
In the abyss a broken man lies in pain. An empty shell of a previous existence. Fragile. Weary. Alone. As the tears dry, he can never forget the pain he has caused. The path of destruction. The regret. A long, lonely road waits ahead. As he stares down it, he wonders where it leads; in painful hope that it leads out of the abyss.

If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule. […] A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1850) On the Suffering of the World

In todays existence we are surrounded by an economic monoculture; which has driven hedonistic values as the norm. Our (western)  societies are continually pushing for instant gratification, always on, always connected, and focused solely on the ultimate pleasure. In amongst the theme where the only intrinsic good is pleasure, we forget that misfortune and pain goes hand in hand with pleasure, and that it is in fact, good. Without pain and suffering, we never grow, we stagnate. If we follow hedonism we never really experience life as it should be. Our society spends all of its efforts to extend life, and to bring everlasting life to our species – which only reduces the value of life itself. If we know we are going to live (forever?), we place little value on each moment, tragedy or joy, and fail to see life for what it is. Death has become taboo; or atleast the acceptance that death is part of the natural order. Without it, life has no meaning.  In this context, the same needs to be applied to suffering and misfortune, it is natural and required to give life, the moments of joy and pleasure, meaning.