06 August 2011

Another Earth

I love realistic fiction, but of course, all fiction isn’t really realistic: unlike reality, realistic fiction is shaped and ordered. Realistic fiction has a creator. The function of fiction, I suppose, is to shine some spotlight on an aspect of my real life so that I might view it more clearly, if, indeed, light does make for greater clarity.  I have my doubts. Fiction is always a construct and hence not at all reality though such work can, I suppose, permit some comment upon it. Fiction doesn’t offer me another life; fiction offers me perspectives on the life I already have. Fiction allows me to give my life shape; fiction offers me the resources to make my life a work of fiction. 
Science fiction permits me to look at my life from perspectives never available in this existence. That was the appeal of the original Star Trek for me, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa has connections to science fiction. And so the film Another Earth presented me with fundamental questions abut this life while considering in reality the possible existence of another. Here that possibility exists in the discovery of a second Earth, that throughout the film looms larger and larger in the sky. Rhoda, a promising seventeen year old commits what she terms an unforgivable act, and then is offered the opportunity to go to another earth and . . . well, that is exactly the point. Will she have the opportunity to change the course of events she instigated here on this earth? Can she seek there redemption or forgiveness or even forgetfulness that seems unavailable here? What will this other earth offer her, finally. 
The critics fault the film for its improbabilities; they a legitimate argument. Is Earth 2 merely a mirror image, or does it offer somehow a second chance? But they (the improbabilities or the critics) did not concern me: this was science fiction and I did not expect realistic fiction.  Though in the film I did get my share of reality. And that is always what I seek what I read: some window of illumination onto my life. 
One question asked in the film intrigued me: if I could meet myself on another earth, what would I say to me? Is this banal? Even in therapy I talk to the transference and not to myself. In therapy I talk to the psychoanalyst or therapist about me—but I don’t talk to me. What would I say if I met me in the absence of anyone else. 
The film ends with exactly this situation. Rhoda has forgone the opportunity to travel to the other earth and stands in her driveway when suddenly she turns around and there is herself; the two not-mirror images stare at each other and the screen goes black. 
I have always considered that I talk to someone else when I talk about myself; when I write I think I am talking to myself but when I write I am not my first audience. But what if I turned about in this life and there was me from another earth. What would I say to me?


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