Ignorance Is Bliss

Author and scholar Neal Gabler had an idea about big ideas in this past Sunday’s New York Times:

 

It is no secret, especially here in America, that we live in a post-Enlightenment age in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy. While we continue to make giant technological advances, we may be the first generation to have turned back the epochal clock — to have gone backward intellectually from advanced modes of thinking into old modes of belief.

It’s a terrible thing that so many of our leaders and talking heads, especially on the right, demonize knowledge the way they do. It’s as if they are afraid that learning things that challenge preconceptions is a direct threat to their sense of self. To a degree, they’re right, but real learning is at its most profound when it jars a person out of ignorance. But I guess comfort is more important than truth.

Shitty Movie Sundays: Reign of Fire

What a gloriously stupid movie. Reign of Fire, from 2002, is about a post-apocalyptic near future in which dragons have been mistakenly awakened from a cave deep underneath London, and have turned the earth into a blackened ball of ash. A group of survivors, led by Quinn (Christian Bale), are eking out a meager existence in a ruined castle in Northumberland in the north of England, keeping their heads low and trying not to starve to death. They’ve reached a kind of perilous equilibrium, sure that as the dragons have burnt the surface of the planet to a crisp, it will only be a matter of time before the beasts all starve to death as well, and then rebuilding human civilization can begin. It’s a dangerous waiting game, between this meager group and the beasts, caught in a race to see which side can outlast the other. No side can hold out much longer, both heir to a land blackened and barren. The humans have pluck, and left alone, they may be the ones to survive, while the dragons, after all, are only animals. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Reign of Fire”