‘Avatar’: The Wasteland and The Holy Grail

January 29, 2010

ANNOUNCMENTS. (To get your announcement in our print events calendar, cialis sale e-mail information by the 15th of the month before publication to grassrootspress@gmail.com   Priority will be given to events with a progressive or social justice theme or arts, view music and cultural happenings that resonate with a sustainable lifestyle.)

League of Women Voters

Know Your State and Local Government: The League is collaborating with the Academy for Learning in Retirement to sponsor a State and Local Government Course. (Time and location: 10:30 a.m. – Noon, Good Samaritan Society, Auditorium. Cost $4, if member; $5 if not)

March 15 – Doña Ana County Government, Jess Williams, Public Information Officer

March 17 – Las Cruces City Government, Terrence Moore, City Manager

March 22 – New Mexico State Government, Jose Garcia, PhD, Department of Government, NMSU

March 27 – New Mexico State Budget, Ruth Hoffman, Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – NM

Mark your calendars.  Invite your family, friends, and neighbors, especially the newcomers who moved in from another state.

Mountain View Market Co-op

Numerous events or classes are held at Mountain View Market Co-op, 1300 El Paseo, in the Idaho Crossings Center. Please call 523-0436 for information on classes, including price and pre-registration requirements.
Unitarian Universalist Church, 2000 S. Solano, Roundtable Schedule for February 2009. Roundtables are held from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the library.
Feb. 7, Bill Soules: Restructuring the schools and curriculum for the 21st Century.

Bill is a teacher with wide experience in our school system.  He always gives us an interesting presentation that leads to lots of discussion.

Feb. 14, Tom Packard: Mindful Eating or how to get your psyche as an ally at mealtime. Do you watch what you eat, and are you shocked by what you see? Tom will tell us how to get our mind and appetite in sync.

Feb. 21, Paul Lawrence: Searching for the source of the Snake River. In 1970. a Grand Teton National Park ranger and I located the source of the the Snake River for the first time. I have a slide presentation of the journey and the background of our exploration which I gave to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as the local historical society.

Feb. 28, Clayton Flowers & Cliff Pelton: Genghis Kahn and The Making of the Modern World. In 25 years, the Mongol army of at most 100,000 warriors subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in 400 years. How did he do it, what motivated him, and what are the lasting legacies  of  Genghis Khan?

March 7, Clayton Flowers & Cliff Pelton: Genghis Khan (continuation).

  • EVERY WEDNESDAY from 4-6 p.m. Weekly Peace Vigil near the Federal Building, Church and Griggs, in downtown Las Cruces. Bring signs, water and sunscreen. Exact location may vary due to construction.
  • EVERY MONDAY from 5-6 p.m., Peace Vigil at Veteran’s Park, under the rotunda. For information visit http://clearmindzen.org
  • EVERY TUESDAY (ALBUQUERQUE) BE PEACE!  Join our Yang-style tai chi group each Tuesday evening 7-8 pm at the Harwood Art Center at 7th and Mountain Streets downtown Albuquerque.  For more info visit harwoodartcenter.org and click on the “classes” tab, or call 505 792.4519.
  • EVERY 1st and 3rd FRIDAY, 7 p.m. Howling Coyote Coffeehouse, New location: First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo, directly East and across the street from Las Cruces High. open mic music and poetry, refreshments. Doors open at 6:30. More information, Bob Burns, 525-9333.
  • EVERY 2nd and 4th FRIDAY NIGHT from 7 pm to 9:30 p.m., Open Mic at Starbuck’s on University. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.
  • EVERY SUNDAY (ALMOST), 7 p.m. Open Mic at Starbuck’s on Valley. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.
  • FOURTH THURSDAY: Progressive Voter Alliance monthly meetings, Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite. Next meeting Thursday, Feb. 25. More information, www.pva-nm.org
  • EVERY SATURDAY, CineMatinee. Each and every Saturday afternoon, a quality-talking picture (with an occasional silent one) will be screened at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, 2469 Calle de Guadalupe, one block south of the plaza. All screenings begin at 1.30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.  Admission is $4, or $1 for Mesilla Valley Film Society members. For more information, please call 524-8287 or 522-0286 or visit our web site: http://mesillavalleyfilm.org

CineMatinee February

Feb. 6, Whale Rider (2003, 101 minutes, rated PG-13) One of the most charming and critically acclaimed films of 2003, the New Zealand hit Whale Rider effectively combines Maori tribal tradition with the timely “girl power” of a vibrant new millennium. Despite the discouragement of her gruff and disapproving grandfather who nearly disowns her because she is female and therefore traditionally disqualified from tribal leadership, 12-year-old Pai is convinced that she is a tribal leader, and sets about to prove it.

Feb. 13, Once (2006, 85 minutes, rated R). The lead character (Glen Hansard) is a street musician in Dublin who plays his own songs at night and the ones people like to hear during the day. To earn money, he works in his father’s vacuum cleaner repair shop. The old man believes that one day his son will get a recording contract. The romantic young man has used the breakup with his girlfriend as material for his latest songs. When a pretty Czech immigrant hears him on the street, she is impressed and strikes up a conversation. Irish writer and director John Carney calls his film an “art house musical,” and it really succeeds in drawing us into the orb of these two unassuming individuals who share a magical moment of making beautiful music together in a recording studio with several other musicians. The folk-rock music really works wonders, and the performances by the two leads are filled with charm and vulnerability as they struggle with moving from friendship to a love relationship.

Feb. 20, Young Guns II (1990, 104 minutes, rated, PG-13, made in New Mexico). Please note…this film is more fun than historically accurate… but Young Guns II is that rare movie, a sequel better than the original, (Young Guns).

Feb. 27, The Well (1951, 85 minutes, not rated). Any discussion of The Well, which was nominated for two Academy Awards, should start with the statement that it’s not a cheap exploitation film. Rather, it is an emotionally satisfying, socially conscious drama that sits squarely in the middle of what passed for controversy in 1951. Its theme is community cooperation, despite the fact that it stages the most elaborate race riot perhaps ever seen on American screens.

  • Saturday, Feb. 6, World Wetlands Day to be celebrated at Bosque Park, Mesilla. The Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park is celebrating World Wetlands Day with a full day of tours and talks from, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be programs on birds, jaguars, archaeology, and insects, as well as kids’ activities. Hawks Aloft will give a live raptor presentation. The Southwest Environmental Center’s executive director will give the keynote talk about the origins of the park and the environmental history of the Rio Grande. Volunteers are needed to help with the SWEC information table. Call Paul at (575) 522-5552.
  • Saturday, Feb. 6, 2 p.m., Nutrition For Your Thyroid, a discussion with Dr. Joann Love. Learn the 11 steps to achieving thyroid balance. Learn how to eat right and  achieve a healthy weight with low thyroid. Learn how to deal with the adrenal fatigue often associated with low thyroid function. A FREE class. Mountain View Market, 1300 El Paseo in the Idaho Crossings Center, 575 523-0436.
  • Thursday, Feb. 18, Taste Of Frontera, The Frontera Land Alliance’s Second Annual Gala Fundraiser, to be held starting at 6 p.m. at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing in Sunland Park, N.M. This year’s Taste of Frontera promises to be a memorable event with local wines, tasty foods, live music, and a plethora of silent auction items and door prizes. Proceeds from the fundraiser support conservation and restoration of critically important natural land resources in the El Paso region. Tickets cost $40 per person and will be available at the door. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling +1 915 526-07725 or +1 915 490-8601. For more information about The Frontera Land Alliance, visit www.fronteralandalliance.org.
  • Thursday, Feb. 25, 6-7:15 p.m., Nutrition And Supplements For A Healthy Heart with Genevieve Chavez, ND of Optimal Health. Learn how to keep your heart healthy and happy so that you can love your Valentines with the best possible ticker for many years to come. $10 per person, discounted for co-op members. Mountain View Market, 1300 El Paseo in the Idaho Crossings Center, 575 523-0436.
  • Thursday, March 25, 2010, 6-7:15 p.m. Spring Cleansing with Genevieve Chavez, ND of Optimal Health. Learn the basics of Detoxifying for health. Learn why and when to do a liver, bowel, blood, or other type of detox. $10 per person, discounted for co-op members. Mountain View Market, 1300 El Paseo in the Idaho Crossings Center, 575 523-0436.


By Steve Klinger

America’s politically orphaned corporations finally got a few table scraps last week when the Supreme Court declared the government has to treat them just like individuals and not restrict them from spending directly on election campaigns. Justice Anthony Kennedy, illness
writing for the 5-4 majority, search basically said we need to take pity on “associations of citizens” and unleash their purse strings to validate their First Amendment rights to free speech. After all, site he argued, it’s bad enough corporations can’t vote or run for office.

But couldn’t we do something about that? As Greg Palast wrote (http://readersupportednews.org/opinion/75-politics/807-greg-palast-manchurian-candidates), why stop with campaign spending – how about Walmart for president? Or for that matter, ARAMCO or the China National Offshore Oil Company, which under this SCOTUS ruling can now spend freely to influence elections as long as they are registered as U.S. corporations? Let’s see… would a corporation have to be native-born to run for president? But I digress…

I do think we need a new constitutional amendment to address this latest example of high-court timidity, this propensity to act in half-measures (which irritates Clarence Thomas so much he had to write a separate opinion putting us on notice that this is just the beginning). We could call it the Equal Rights Amendment for Corporations. While we’re at it, we should abolish the Security and Exchange Commission, which has for too long been an obstacle to corporate marriage.

Speaking of associations of citizens, we need a new division of the ACLU to look out for Exxon-Mobil and Citi – something like the Corporate Civil Liberties Union. Corporations shouldn’t have to bankrupt themselves paying high-priced attorneys to defend their interests; if common criminals have access to pro bono lawyers, so should the loyal companies that enrich our lives in so many ways.

They are after all America’s most neglected minority – far fewer in number than any prominent racial or ethnic group – and as the Fearless Five (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy) finally acknowledged, it’s about time we began leveling the playing field.

In fact, this is not a time for artificial borders. I think we need a worldwide benefit drive to reach out to multinational corporations, something like the relief effort organized for Haiti or the tsunami–ravaged nations in 2004. Kind of like what Washington did on a small scale for Wall Street; you know, bailouts for bank bonuses. We could show our compassion to all corporate executives, a really afflicted group if ever there was one, who now live with daily stress and uncertainty, not knowing where their next yacht is coming from.

We could provide counseling and job retraining programs, a premium food stamp plan to include pâté de foie gras, and special WIC-like benefits for wholly owned subsidiaries. Each community could sponsor its own Adopt-A-Corporation drive. I’m sure hard-working Americans would sign up to sponsor their very own disadvantaged corporate entity and gladly donate a generous portion of their weekly unemployment check to help keep some struggling oil and gas company afloat. (Of course, this already happens with our income tax dollars, but you get my drift.)

The Obama administration and Congress need to stop showing favoritism, as in the current healthcare reform measure that only benefits insurance companies and big pharma. Let’s get back to work on the stalled energy bill to make sure there’s a piece of the pie for agribusiness, fossil fuel producers and all the other core industries that are entitled to make a killing on energy reform.

That said, I can’t wait to see the details of the coming financial overhaul, which to be fair needs to assist all banks, investment companies and other financial institutions. And of course I’m confident it will.

This is, after all, a democracy we live in. Since corporations are people, they too are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what could make a corporation happier than being able to buy influence more directly so government will remember to validate its individuality.

So get with the program, Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor. And thank you, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Thomas and Scalia for recognizing that corporations too have their American Dream, and having heard the merciful promise, lay themselves at our feet for comfort:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–Statue of Liberty inscription, from sonnet by Emma Lazarus

By Steve Klinger

America’s politically orphaned corporations finally got a few table scraps last week when the Supreme Court declared the government has to treat them just like individuals and not restrict them from spending directly on election campaigns. Justice Anthony Kennedy, pharm writing for the 5-4 majority, geriatrician
basically said we need to take pity on “associations of citizens” and unleash their purse strings to validate their First Amendment rights to free speech. After all, he argued, it’s bad enough corporations can’t vote or run for office.

But couldn’t we do something about that? As Greg Palast wrote (http://readersupportednews.org/opinion/75-politics/807-greg-palast-manchurian-candidates), why stop with campaign spending – how about Walmart for president? Or for that matter, ARAMCO or the China National Offshore Oil Company, which under this SCOTUS ruling can now spend freely to influence elections as long as they are registered as U.S. corporations? Let’s see… would a corporation have to be native-born to run for president? But I digress…

I do think we need a new constitutional amendment to address this latest example of high-court timidity, this propensity to act in half-measures (which irritates Clarence Thomas so much he had to write a separate opinion putting us on notice that this is just the beginning). We could call it the Equal Rights Amendment for Corporations. While we’re at it, we should abolish the Security and Exchange Commission, which has for too long been an obstacle to corporate marriage.

Speaking of associations of citizens, we need a new division of the ACLU to look out for Exxon-Mobil and Citi – something like the Corporate Civil Liberties Union. Corporations shouldn’t have to bankrupt themselves paying high-priced attorneys to defend their interests; if common criminals have access to pro bono lawyers, so should the loyal companies that enrich our lives in so many ways.

They are after all America’s most neglected minority – far fewer in number than any prominent racial or ethnic group – and as the Fearless Five (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy) finally acknowledged, it’s about time we began leveling the playing field.

In fact, this is not a time for artificial borders. I think we need a worldwide benefit drive to reach out to multinational corporations, something like the relief effort organized for Haiti or the tsunami–ravaged nations in 2004. Kind of like what Washington did on a small scale for Wall Street; you know, bailouts for bank bonuses. We could show our compassion to all corporate executives, a really afflicted group if ever there was one, who now live with daily stress and uncertainty, not knowing where their next yacht is coming from.

We could provide counseling and job retraining programs, a premium food stamp plan to include pâté de foie gras, and special WIC-like benefits for wholly owned subsidiaries. Each community could sponsor its own Adopt-A-Corporation drive. I’m sure hard-working Americans would sign up to sponsor their very own disadvantaged corporate entity and gladly donate a generous portion of their weekly unemployment check to help keep some struggling oil and gas company afloat. (Of course, this already happens with our income tax dollars, but you get my drift.)

The Obama administration and Congress need to stop showing favoritism, as in the current healthcare reform measure that only benefits insurance companies and big pharma. Let’s get back to work on the stalled energy bill to make sure there’s a piece of the pie for agribusiness, fossil fuel producers and all the other core industries that are entitled to make a killing on energy reform.

That said, I can’t wait to see the details of the coming financial overhaul, which to be fair needs to assist all banks, investment companies and other financial institutions. And of course I’m confident it will.

This is, after all, a democracy we live in. Since corporations are people, they too are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what could make a corporation happier than being able to buy influence more directly so government will remember to validate its individuality.

So get with the program, Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor. And thank you, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Thomas and Scalia for recognizing that corporations too have their American Dream, and having heard the merciful promise, lay themselves at our feet for comfort:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–Statue of Liberty inscription, from sonnet by Emma Lazarus

By Steve Klinger

America’s politically orphaned corporations finally got a few table scraps last week when the Supreme Court declared the government has to treat them just like individuals and not restrict them from spending directly on election campaigns. Justice Anthony Kennedy, treat
writing for the 5-4 majority, Mycoplasmosis
basically said we need to take pity on “associations of citizens” and unleash their purse strings to validate their First Amendment rights to free speech. After all, he argued, it’s bad enough corporations can’t vote or run for office.

But couldn’t we do something about that? As Greg Palast wrote (http://readersupportednews.org/opinion/75-politics/807-greg-palast-manchurian-candidates), why stop with campaign spending – how about Walmart for president? Or for that matter, ARAMCO or the China National Offshore Oil Company, which under this SCOTUS ruling can now spend freely to influence elections as long as they are registered as U.S. corporations? Let’s see… would a corporation have to be native-born to run for president? But I digress…

I do think we need a new constitutional amendment to address this latest example of high-court timidity, this propensity to act in half-measures (which irritates Clarence Thomas so much he had to write a separate opinion putting us on notice that this is just the beginning). We could call it the Equal Rights Amendment for Corporations. While we’re at it, we should abolish the Security and Exchange Commission, which has for too long been an obstacle to corporate marriage.

Speaking of associations of citizens, we need a new division of the ACLU to look out for Exxon-Mobil and Citi – something like the Corporate Civil Liberties Union. Corporations shouldn’t have to bankrupt themselves paying high-priced attorneys to defend their interests; if common criminals have access to pro bono lawyers, so should the loyal companies that enrich our lives in so many ways.

They are after all America’s most neglected minority – far fewer in number than any prominent racial or ethnic group – and as the Fearless Five (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy) finally acknowledged, it’s about time we began leveling the playing field.

In fact, this is not a time for artificial borders. I think we need a worldwide benefit drive to reach out to multinational corporations, something like the relief effort organized for Haiti or the tsunami–ravaged nations in 2004. Kind of like what Washington did on a small scale for Wall Street; you know, bailouts for bank bonuses. We could show our compassion to all corporate executives, a really afflicted group if ever there was one, who now live with daily stress and uncertainty, not knowing where their next yacht is coming from.

We could provide counseling and job retraining programs, a premium food stamp plan to include pâté de foie gras, and special WIC-like benefits for wholly owned subsidiaries. Each community could sponsor its own Adopt-A-Corporation drive. I’m sure hard-working Americans would sign up to sponsor their very own disadvantaged corporate entity and gladly donate a generous portion of their weekly unemployment check to help keep some struggling oil and gas company afloat. (Of course, this already happens with our income tax dollars, but you get my drift.)

The Obama administration and Congress need to stop showing favoritism, as in the current healthcare reform measure that only benefits insurance companies and big pharma. Let’s get back to work on the stalled energy bill to make sure there’s a piece of the pie for agribusiness, fossil fuel producers and all the other core industries that are entitled to make a killing on energy reform.

That said, I can’t wait to see the details of the coming financial overhaul, which to be fair needs to assist all banks, investment companies and other financial institutions. And of course I’m confident it will.

This is, after all, a democracy we live in. Since corporations are people, they too are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what could make a corporation happier than being able to buy influence more directly so government will remember to validate its individuality.

So get with the program, Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor. And thank you, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Thomas and Scalia for recognizing that corporations too have their American Dream, and having heard the merciful promise, lay themselves at our feet for comfort:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–Statue of Liberty inscription, from sonnet by Emma Lazarus


By Gordon Solberg

James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Avatar deals with an important theme currently playing itself out right here on Earth: planetary destruction. Will the culture of destruction win, prosthetic
or not? Right now it looks like there’s little to stop the destroyers. The pro-Earth forces seem too few, sales too compromised, help and too weak to make the necessary difference. But no worries, let’s just take $300,000,000 and create a movie with the desired happy ending!

The year is 2154, and the Earthlings have pretty well destroyed their own planet. So they’ve invaded Pandora, a paradise located in a nearby star system, for some necessary resource extraction. The Earthlings are white, corporate Americans with a militaristic bent. In this movie, at least, it looks like the Republicans took over our planet and destroyed what was left of it. With rare exceptions, the Earthlings of 2154 are a bunch of assholes. In fact, the corporate boss looks and acts remarkably like George W. Bush.

Pandora is inhabited by a race of 9-foot-tall, blue humanoids with tails who live in harmony with their planet. The Pandorans are trying to defend their home from the invading Americans, who have overwhelming firepower and a no-nonsense culture of total destruction. The ensuing conflict is what we would expect in a movie: cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, might vs. right. But Cameron turns convention on its head by making the Pandorans the good guys, and the Americans the bad guys. What a change of pace to see the Americans shipped home in humiliating defeat! Cameron has wisely (from a commercial viewpoint) tapped into the global zeitgeist of fear and frustration with the out-of-control American Empire. In movieland at least, America gets its long-awaited comeuppance.

The movie gives Cameron the opportunity to contrast two opposing cultures: the sterile, exploitative, high-tech American corporate culture, and the magical, harmony-oriented world of the Pandorans. Like Star Wars, Avatar is lifted right from the pages of Joseph Campbell. In this movie, as in real life, the Americans have lost the Holy Grail, the spiritual connection with reality which Campbell calls the “infinite depths… of the living waters of the inexhaustible source,” and consequently live in a spiritual and physical Wasteland of their own creation. The Pandorans, on the other hand, have never lost the Grail in the first place.

We are already all-too-familiar with the American Wasteland, since we live in the middle of it. Americans, and by extension the entire industrialized world, are projecting their spiritual desolation onto the planet, and in so doing, laying waste to it. The Wasteland culture reduces life to a routine whenever possible. Everything is ordinary; nothing is sacred. The wealthy set the agenda, and technocrats run everything. Indigenous cultures are destroyed. It’s all about money and exploitation; anything not for sale is valueless. As Campbell says, the Wasteland is “… where there is no poet’s eye to see, no adventure to be lived, where all is set for all and forever: Utopia! It is the land where poets languish and priestly spirits thrive, whose task it is only to repeat, enforce, and elucidate cliches… There is no time, no place, no permission – let alone encouragement – for experience.” In other words, life is always tightly programmed within the Wasteland culture, and the vital essence of life – which requires long periods of unstructured time in which to grow — has been squeezed right out of it.

The critical mass of Americans don’t feel spiritually desolated. They don’t even realize they’re living in a Wasteland. They’ve adapted to it, and in so doing, have lost more than they realize. The Grail is a strictly optional experience – powerful, yet exceedingly subtle. Experiencing the Grail within the Wasteland culture is like trying to hear a bird singing in a tree next to a busy freeway – the bird is singing, but all you hear is traffic. (I don’t want to minimize the amazing creativity and spirituality to be found in our country. But when we look at our behavior on the national level – war, torture, environmental destruction, financial exploitation, on and on – we must conclude that something is terribly wrong with this nation.)

What’s most fascinating about the movie is the Pandoran culture Cameron created. The Pandorans are in full contact with the Grail, which I would define as the lived experience of connection with the transcendental ground of reality. The Pandorans are TUNED IN: to their emotions, to their own animal nature and spiritual nature (animal and spirit are one and the same), to the spirit of the planet that gave them birth. The Pandoran culture Cameron created is loosely based on Native American spirituality (in which everything is sacred), and as such is perhaps the first exposure many young people have ever had to a culture with a spiritual orientation to life. This is a good thing: I imagine that many a Quest has been activated within the soul of many a young person from watching Avatar. This movie might spark questions like: What is life all about? Does my pre-programmed religion or non-religion really satisfy my spiritual needs? Where are my people? Is destruction the only possible human outcome? Hopefully, questions like this help to break the tyranny of the take-it-all-for-granted mindset of the Wasteland. Even a Hollywood caricature of nature-based spirituality is better than nothing.

One positive aspect of the movie is the way in which Pandoran women – and specifically the heroine, Neytiri – are portrayed. They are the equals of men in every way; they come across as powerful, competent, physical, spiritual, sexual. Being products of Cameron’s imagination, they transcend the “mere human.” They are archetypes more than accurate representations of actual living creatures. For all practical purposes, they are goddesses. Neytiri and her cohorts are excellent role models for young women living on the cusp of a collapsing Empire. They (along with people of all sexes) will need some major inner resources as chaos fills our planet.

Cameron has tapped into the hunger for harmony and magic that many people feel within the Wasteland culture. After all, the Grail (or whatever you want to call it) is closer to us than our own breathing. Even if we’ve been distracted out of noticing it, it’s always there. So it stands to reason that a certain percentage of Americans feel dissatisfied with the spiritually primitive nature of American mainstream culture: “Where is the culture that amplifies and supports my own inner experience?” they might well ask. Mainstream America has made remarkably little progress since the heady days of the ‘60s and ‘70s, when many of us believed that surely we could create some sort of alternative to the madness. Now, 40 years later, it seems obvious that things are significantly worse. The wealthy now control all the levers of national power, the rabble are thoroughly trivialized, life is more tightly programmed than ever, and the biosphere is on the verge of collapse.

But we still have our inner experience, as free as ever. What can we ever hope to accomplish with such evanescence? As with every generation, today’s young people will have plenty of opportunities to figure this out for themselves, or not. They’re inheriting a stark new world, in which the traditional explanations will be revealed to be the prattle they’ve been all along.

In the final analysis, spirituality is not about outcomes. It’s about awakening from the hypnotism of the altered state of consciousness we take as “normal,” and reclaiming the birthright that has been ours all along. Looking at it that way, all Avatar can ever hope to be is just another movie. It’s very entertaining, to be sure, and will no doubt cause at least a few young people to seek the real thing in terms of nature-based spirituality. This is probably more than Cameron ever intended… which, along with being a blockbuster success, is not a bad outcome for any filmmaker.

(Gordon Solberg’s blog is a never-ending review of America: The Moviehttp://newearthtimes.blogspot.com )

Comments

3 Responses to “‘Avatar’: The Wasteland and The Holy Grail”

  1. nancy anderson on January 30th, 2010 4:20 pm

    I think the author is very “right on” about this movie, “Avatar”. It points out the imperialist nature of our country, the United State of America. It puts the light on just what is wrong with our country. Too much of the power in our country is in the wrong hands. Oh sure, there are good people out there; many of our Congressmen got into Congress for the right reasons, but once there, they can’t ignore the power and greed of being a “Congressman” with all of the power that it engenders. Maybe all of the Congressmen should go to “Avatar”; would they “get it”???

  2. Lynn Farquhar on January 31st, 2010 4:10 pm

    I just went to see the film last night and was astounded before it even started by the crowds, the hype, the over-the-top trailers for other coming attractions, but especially by the film short to recruit for THE NATIONAL GUARD!!?? Was this being shown with every showing of this film?… The infotainment of the National Guard was pretty dang awesome… everyone mega-buff and smart—rescuing people from the rubble of war (moving too fast to ponder which side may have produced the explosion) -helping distraught children and women in natural and war-made disasters –those children and women ever so grateful for the indisputably efficient and competent heroics of their rescuers and all their astoundingly efficient and competent military hardware—the unassailably moral and beneficent rescuers coming to the aid of a world in so so much trouble.

    At first I was annoyed at the plastic 3-d glasses one was required to wear for the film, since I was taken aback at its contradiction with the whole eco-friendly message about the indigenous, but since attempting to watch for the next hours without them would surely have resulted in a massive headache I wore them dutifully…. and paid my $13 ticket price in a state of shock and awe compliance.

    Normally I don’t bother with the ‘blockbuster’ but this was sort of a cultural phenomenon I felt the need to see just out of an anthropological curiosity. The visceral feelings I had about it all last night have kind of faded after reading just today’s news. I can’t help but compare the film in my mind to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the effect that that had on me… more than a little too much battle sequence… Way way way more than a little…. So today I find myself wondering why the short shrift given to any impulse for nonviolent creative responses to the massive violent land-grab domination of it all. As Vonnegut would have said… we have been entertained.

    I’m still wondering why.

  3. Joe on August 13th, 2010 6:23 am

    U.S. sucks, and I was born here. Americans are media zombies with no idea of humanity.

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