Wednesday, September 14, 2011

31 Days of Recycling #14

Two years on, there is still a fair amount of anger out there about the way Battlestar Galactica ended, but I just watched the finale again the other week and I still think it's terrific.

The ending for Lost was even better...

Where do you get your ideas from?
Originally posted August 28, 2009

It was really, really funny to see people who avidly watched every episode of Battlestar Galactica blow chunks over the finale because it didn’t make sense. I have gleefully read six thousand word essays on why the unanswered question left by the series were a storytelling betrayal and message board posts written by people who pride themselves on atheism, enraged by the touch of the divine.

If there was one thing that summed up everything that bugged these people, it was that bloody song. That gorgeous, wonderful Dylan track that was a direct inspiration from the universe, reverberating across hundreds of millennia, ideas sparking across time.

Totally impossible. There is no way a song can survive untold generations and emerge word perfect through Dylan’s words and Hendrix’s guitar. Something that was lost in the centuries could not possibly resurface with so much accuracy.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s like the military protocols and slang. These people can’t have had these things 150,000 years ago. We only just invented them and they would be totally different. That’s basic logic.

It’s unexplainable.

That’s what’s so great about it.

* * *

Alan Moore always talks up the Ideaspace, pointing to the example of steam invention developments making a quantum leap forward, with separate and unique breakthroughs made at the same time around the world from people who could had no idea what their counterpart was up to.

If you want to see it for yourself, go to the Louvre and wander down its renaissance hallway and see the human race evolve, as it discovers perspective and beauty. New ways of thinking and creating are born from nothing, springing up all over the place.

Moore has built a nice little slice of theology around the whole concept of an ideaspace, something we can all access, something which we’re all a part of, something that exists in a direction we can not point to.

He has even made a couple of stabs at explaining it and depicting it in his work. He doesn’t stand a chance of portraying this place with any real accuracy, not because of any lack of ability on his artistic collaborator’s part (far from it, in most cases), but because it is something that is literally beyond our perception, something that we can not imagine.

Because it is our imagination, it is the place where crazy ideas spring from, with seemingly little prompting. It’s part of our own collective unconsiousness, something we all share and tap into without even realizing it.

By Moore’s reckoning, it is the place where all ideas come from. It is the source of everything that makes us human. It is inspiration in the purest form, the light that shines the way through the dark of history.

* * *

Grant Morrison did the same, of course. Plugging into the same geography of ideaspace, Morrison tried to make it sexy and less hairy. He succeeded too, using the idea as a key foundation in the plot of a major DC comic crossover about Superman singing a song.

And it was dead sexy.

* * *

Okay, so it’s all purely hypothetical and the chances are that ideaspace is nothing more than the gaps between the neurons in our brains. New ideas are fired up when two unconnected parts of the head start talking to each other and the concept of a shared space where ideas fall out of the ether is scientifically dodgy.

But there is already an ideaspace around us, one that exists somewhere in the netherworld of mass communication. Just by talking with each other, we all spark up on ideas and connections that we would never have come up with on our own.

It’s still invisible, but it is certainly there. It’s ridiculous to ignore everything that can not be proven with empirical evidence. Despite our best efforts, the reasons behind our continued existence in this reality remain a complete mystery and the process of inspiration is similarly unknown. To actively deny any possibility because it can not be absolutely proven is just foolish

When creators are continually asked where their ideas come from, it must be easy to blame some otherwordly ideaspace, but that doesn’t mean the idea does not have merit.

* * *

Towards the climax of that last Battlestar Galactica episode, there is a wonderful, wonderful moment when Gaius Baltar stops everything to acknowledge that there is some higher power at work, something they can’t define that does certainly exist and has been guiding them to this specific point.

The man of science makes a proclamation of faith and directly acknowledges the divine. He recognises that there are forces at work that he can not possibly comprehend, but tries his damndest to understand which path they want him to take..

It’s interesting that Gaius bloody Baltar, the moaning git who only started up his own religious cult for personal gratification, who has betrayed the entire human race several times over and relied on his scientific knowledge for a dose of certainty for the entire series, can make that acknowledgement, especially when many of those watching could not make that logical leap.

The hand of the divine was spread right throughout the series, but this was still seen as a storytelling betrayal in some who watched it Kara Thrace vanishing from a hilltop, the impossibly happy ending and that bloody song again, which led the human race across the universe to its next chapter.

Some of those who cried foul at the final fate of the Galactica crew seemed convinced that it would have been better if they had only arrived on Earth thirty or forty thousand years ago, instead of the vast expense of 150 millennia. That would have fixed everything, because then it all ties in so nicely with humankind’s Great Leap Forward and everything would make sense.

But time means nothing in ideaspace. Ideas can spark across years, decades, centuries, millennia. A tune that dragged humanity through the stars can pop up again, over and over again. Always the same words, always the same feelings - There must be some kind of way out of here.

And if it doesn’t make sense, then so what? We all contemplate the divine, whether we know it or not, and it remains indescribable. It’s that unanswerable question at the heart of us all, that mystery we all crave to solve.

I’m looking for clues wherever I can, just like we all should. To find some in the pages of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and an episode of Battlestar Galactia is truly remarkable, and a real privilege.

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