the Wire in space
Friday, April 9 2010
Today when I wasn't applying layers of polyurethane to the brownhouse shitting bench, I found myself watching a lot of the Battlestar Galactica remake (Season II, disc 1). It's unique in the tradition of space operas not only for its complexity (sometimes it seems to aspire to be The Wire in space), but also for its many quirks and omissions. Fighting characters don't, for example, shoot at each other with laser guns. They use what appear to be conventional bullet-firing AK-47s. And they drink booze. And coffee. (Though where these things are grown and manufactured is a mystery.) The day-to-day technology of the people includes things like cassette recorders that Americans have already stopped using. But the most interesting thing of all about Battlestar Galactica is the complete absence of aliens (that is, life forms from a separate biology). In most space operas, the universe is full of populated worlds and other intelligent races. The further out you go, the more you find. In the Battlestar Galactica universe, though, the closest thing to aliens are the Cylons, but they're just a class of machines originally built by humans. Thus the humans of Battlestar Galactica are facing down a problem of their own making, much like us humans with our many self-generated problems here on Earth. There are a number of inhabited planets in Battlestar Galactica, but they all seem to be stocked with biology lifted from Earth (trees, plants, birds, humans, etc.). The absence of other biologies has the effect of making the Battlestar Galactica universe an existentially lonely place, more so even than the universe that science informs us about. In our tangible universe we don't know what might be out there, but in Battlestar Galactica, they've explored the galaxy, found it empty, and then proceeded to spoil it with their technology (because that's how we roll).
Penny and David came over this evening with their new nine month old son they'd just adopted from South Korea. He was a quiet plump-cheeked kid who seemed content to sit on the kitchen island (his parents keeping him from falling) while Penny or David flew spoon sorties of beige-colored glurp into his mouth. Meanwhile, us adults split a bottle of red wine. David told me that having a kid (even non-biologically) was having a profound emotional affect on him. He went so far as to say that the kind of love one feels for their child is actually greater in a way than the love one feels for one's own spouse. I would have been less surprised to hear this from Penny, given the strong hormonal basis of motherhood. But perhaps such hormones are also at play for fathers, yet our society tells men not to show weakness by talking about it. David is not much of a guy's guy, but he's enough of one to suppress the expression of such sentiment if doing so were easy.
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