A dream of now

I’ve just published a book, called A film-philosophy of ecology and enlightenment. (You can read the early part of it for free here … Don’t attempt to buy it unless you are independently wealthy – it’s madly expensive. Wait for the paperback next year – or, much better idea, order it for/through your library, now.)

I argue in my book that a number of the films I investigate in the book are about daring to dream again. (Especially the film that I argue is the most significant popular film of recent times: Avatar.)

Well, if that’s true, then it’s also true that it is important to dare to dream nightmares too, sometimes. (And in my book, I examine Never Let Me Go, The Road, and Melancholia, as examples, inter alia, along such lines.)

I had a remarkable dream (nightmare) recently, while writing this book:

In the dream, people were glued to screens watching … a film about an impending/unfolding disaster. Some viewers dimly realised that the film was true, was in real-time, and was about their actual lives, their actual world. Some people found themselves dragged away from the screen-addiction when they realised that it was true: the dream was reality, and the calamity was fast coming to engulf them. What the calamity in fact was, as it was starting to be experienced, was lots of people driven to despair by societal breakdown produced by ecological disaster turning on each other and on their richer neighbours. Our heads were rudely jerked away from the screens we were fixed to by the spectre of hordes of desperate violent people charging our way. We then started peeling away and running ourselves. In some of our minds, we hunted rapidly for solutions – but it was too late, evidently. The time to have solved the crisis was a lot earlier, when we had the resources to do it, when we weren’t reduced to a state of preying on others or running away in fear of being preyed upon. Back then, we were caught up simply in watching the screen, and we did not act

My dream struck me as a nuanced rendition of exactly the situation we find ourselves in. The dream I had is a warning: we need to stop this from becoming the reality. We must change the story. Otherwise, while many of us will not experience climate-disaster as, for example the flooding of our homes (as in Pakistan or Bangladesh or the South of the USA in recent years), we will experience it as a collapse in our society’s capacity to help others – and then a collapse in society’s capacity to help ourselves. And we will all sink together.

Like in Plato’s allegory of the cave: let us not keep watching the shadows on the wall. Let us turn from them to exit the cave and do what needs to be done. Now. If we do not leave the cave until it is too late, then the Sun will burn us and burn our forests down and burn life up, and fires set alight by nature and by humans will consume us…

Films are shared dreams, I argue, in my book. We must dream bigger than we ever have before, at this fateful moment in history. We need to become enlightened, and to engage the collective capacity to act, before we know the future, before it is too late. That is the wonderful power human beings hold.

And that power, and how films and philosophy can dramatise and manifest it, is what my book is about. I hope you might want to read it. And to dream real with me…