Mindwalk (1990) [Sub. Esp.- Eng Captions]

Uploaded by ECOmantiqueira on 21.04.2011

Hello... Tom?
Jack? Jack, it's... What, is there a red alert on or something?
Am I calling too late?
No, no... It's just that the hours are too later here...
Are you O.K.? Is everything all right?
Not really.
Hey Tom, I need some help.
You think a speechwriter's going to fix it? Do you think that's the only problem?
If I did, would I be calling you?
I'm sorry I missed your presidential campaign. I just thought it was nuts.
It looks like the voters agreed with you.
Maybe it was crazy, anyway, Now, I'm supposed to be running again...
for the re-election to the Senate, and people aren't giving any more.
Now, they are giving, but maybe I just don't want the money.
I don't have anything to say. I feel tapped out.
Get away from there, it's a snake pit. It's a hall of mirrors for narcissists.
Get a long way away.
Oh, I wish, but it's impossible right now.
No, come on. It's always like that. That's always part of the problem.
Are you offering me a place?
Yeah, sure. You could come over here. Come on over.
It may not be the White House but, you know, at least here you're wanted.
I'm so glad I came here.
I should not invited him.
Look, there it is again.
The Middle Ages got left behind on this rock. Time just moved on.
There he goes again. That's him all right.
Always enthused and always ready, with the right words for all occasions.
As if everyone was still waiting for his opinion.
As if life itself was one giant press conference.
Maybe that's all there is, this public persona.
Maybe I've been fooling myself these last 20 years...
always looking for the real guy behind the facade.
Maybe the facade is the real guy.
This is amazing!
Sure it is. Everything's always amazing to this guy.
Why am I bitching all the time?
Maybe it's a premonition that this trip's going to be a disaster.
I can't say that I need Jack's company. This time of my life I'm residing quite...
contentedly in my own midlife crises, thank you very much.
This is as far away from Washington as I could possibly get.
Thank you.
There he goes.
That's why he irritates me, and that's why I love him, too.
Behind the innocence there may be a calculating politician...
but behind the politician there's an innocent.
He's still american enough. He doesn't lie well at all, he means it.
You want to stop the car and get out? Take a look around?
There it is. Mont-Saint-Michel.
What do you think?
You want to do something different? You want to walk over there?
Walk across that swamp?
Yeah, just like our ancestors did centuries and centuries ago.
You're the one who wanted to do all the walking. Come on, let's go.
Maybe you ancestors used to do this...
but unless my mother lied to me, I don't...
Thank you.
- So, we're gonna do something today? - Thought I'd finish my book.
You always have a book to read. I'm bored.
Where's Roman?
I don't care what Roman's doing. I wanted to do something with you.
I should not come. I should've just done something with dad.
Come on, Kit.
You just stay cooped up in this medieval island, just reading your books.
You're not even aware of what's going on around you.
You could be anywhere, it wouldn't even make a difference.
You should go out more. Meet some people.
I will.
I'm going.
Are you moving to France permanently?
I thought you couldn't live anywhere but in New York.
What about the theater? Did you give that up for good?
Oh, it may have given me up for good.
I don't think I'm enough involved in real estate to live in Manhattan...
or any other business. Some other hustle.
I lived in New York when I was young inside. My friends and I were more interested...
in our work than our investments.
We weren't invidious. We were nurturing.
And then, you know. Alimony, the IRS...
being denied the right to parent my own child custody--
They brought reality in, and hey, who needs it?
When Nixon got on that chopper in 1972 I think the fight went out of all of us.
The big business took over and set the agenda.
Boy, when you buy into big business, when you buy into that, man...
you got to emancipate yourself from your morals...
or you live a life of squeamishness.
Is this our same old argument? I lost my morals, did I?
Automatically, by going to work and staying inside the system?
You're taking me a little personally. I was talking about myself.
I was saying that I got a little squeamish, you know?
I know people that work a lot crasser jobs than you, and they're happy.
They're happy, they're healthy, they're not depressed.
They enjoy the material blessings. Me? I couldn't handle it.
I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't...
Confucius say "Of the 39 steps of escape the best one's flight." So I fled.
Here I am in France where I can pull down my pants.
I'm enough of a retarded romantic to believe France is still a place to go and think.
So I'll stay, I guess... or I won't. We'll see.
This place is like a fairy tale.
How did we wind up here?
I'll bet there's some secret plan of yours behind all this.
I bet I could say the same thing about you. No, I just thought you'd like to come here.
To discover that precious quality that the world so desperately lacks.
Ah, yeah. Vision.
Perspective. Perspective, Jack.
This is where the dead are placed, in the middle of town among the houses.
Death is a part of life, not separate from it.
There aren't enough graves for all the generations of Mont-Saint-Michelains.
So every decade or so, the bones are dug up so new bodies can be buried here.
And since they believed you will need your bones again on Judgment day...
they placed them nearby in the charnel house--
- Ucch! That's disgusting. - I like cemeteries.
And in the back there, in the church, there is a relic of a saint.
What's a relic?
Oh, maybe a shaving of the saint's fingernail, or a scrap of the saint's robe.
Tell me Jack, how do you expect to govern these people?
That's a good question.
There was an italian premier once, just before Mussolini...
somebody asked him if it was difficult to govern italians.
He said: "Difficult to govern italians? No, not difficult. Only useless"
They didn't say that on the 6:00 news.
No, but I thought it night and day. Maybe that's why I lost.
Anyway, did they really think that their bones would keep until judgment day?
You got to remember for them Judgment day was...
right around the corner. They expected it almost hourly.
Just like us.
I wouldn't say so. Judgment day, for us is different.
It's an interruption, a violation, a break in our concept of time--
The bomb, the big one. Judgment day for them was the ultimate day off.
Not the ultimate off day.
There wasn't mechanical time, time was season to season, Sabbath to saint day.
And everything led toward Judgment day. That was the reason everybody was alive.
It was the day of deliverance. Like sunday, when you get the Times delivered.
Time was sacred.
They'd ring a bell in the morning, they'd ring a bell in the evening...
and those moments would change a little. But the...
rhythm of their era was so different from ours...
that I don't think we can even imagine it.
I guess we're a little early.
No saint stands alone.
No saint stands alone.
Every time I come here, these lines comes to me, God knows from where.
Sometimes it takes me weeks, even years to figure out what they mean.
Did you ever read any of the books I sent you?
No, not since you stopped thinking about helping me with speeches.
Did you ever read the speeches I sent you?
I tried. I mean, the old attention span, isn't what it used to be.
That's true. Mine neither.
I don't have any attention anymore for anything that's not specific.
Poetry just confuses me.
Yeah, politics-- Politics confuses everybody.
Including its practitioners.
But I know what "No saint stands alone" means.
Oh, yeah? What?
It's the essence of my profession.
Because between every politician and his own point of view...
there's always three fat cats, two pac lobbyists, half dozen of microphones.
"No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent...
part of the main, therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls...
it tolls to thee."
Can't you just feel the place watching you?
- It makes you feel pretty small. - It was supposed to.
The individual in the human body was supposed to feel small...
dwarfed, denied all independent existence.
We lost some of the sense of being all one, but we got our freedom.
That's not a bad trade-off.
I don't know. I still don't know if we haven't lost more than we've gained.
All I ever hear anybody talk about today is themselves.
I wrote a poem once. It's titled "The Stones Speak, I am Silent"
At least you're free to think what you want and do what you can about it.
Think of the guy who had to carry these stones up the hell to built this place.
He didn't have any say in life, or try running for office some day.
Someone else sets the agenda, someone else sets the schedule.
Somebody else decides what you can say and what you better not say.
Talk about losing yourself. People have been known to forget their own names.
Maybe you're too smart to be president.
A television correspondent told me that once.
What did you say?
I got a little steamed.
I said american voters want their leaders to be dumber than they are.
They figure they'll do less harm that way. That is an expensive form of cynicism.
- You said that on TV? - Yup.
Maybe you're not so smart after all.
We go through here.
What's up here?
After you.
Look at this. Look at this!
This thing has been functioning for hundreds of years--
since before the beginning of modern times.
But this is different from the kind of time you were talking about before.
Sunrise to Sunset, Sabbath to Sabbath, isn't it?
This is... mechanical time.
You bet, you bet it is.
I sometimes think that this clock, this machine is what...
...constitutes humanity's first real break from the world of nature.
Wouldn't you say so? Hello?
The clock did much more than that. It became the model of the cosmos.
And then they mistook the model for the real thing.
People got the idea that nature was just a giant clock.
Not a living organism, but a machine.
That's exactly what I've been trying to tell this lunkhead, exactly, word for word.
- What? - Maybe you recognize him. Jack Edwards.
And you are...?
Sonia Hoffman. I think I've heard your name somewhere.
Maybe in a couple of hundred news broadcasts.
He was a candidate for the U.S. presidency in the primaries.
I vaguely remember. See? I'm not a voter.
Most americans don't vote either.
I do know who you are.
Me? You know who I am? I doubt it...
You're Thomas Harriman, the poet.
Yes I am. But wait a minute, let me get this straight.
You recognize me, a poet whose latest work sold only 12,000 copies but you...
do not recognize this gentleman, who was a presidential candidate in America?
My god, woman. What's happened to your values? What do you do?
I'm a scientist.
And we do occasionally read poetry.
As a matter of fact, I'm doing a lot of it these days.
I'm on a sort of sabbatical.
I'm an ex-physicist, an ex-american resident...
- an ex-voter-- - Ex-wife?
This is very upsetting. Why don't intelligent people like yourself bother to vote?
Forgive me. You politicians make it so hard.
The ideas expressed by most of you, right or left...
seem to me as antique and mechanical as that old clock.
What's that supposed to mean?
If I was to explain that, I'd have to go all the way back to Descartes...
if you remember him.
- Yeah - "To be or not to be"
- "I Think, therefore, I am." - Yeah, well. We both went to college.
Descartes was the primary architect of the view that sees the world as a clock.
A mechanistic view that still dominates most of the world today...
and it seems to me specially you politicians.
Mechanistic? Is that a real word?
Mechanistic, mechanical, mechanics. Yeah, it's a good word.
Mechanistic. As if Nature functioned like a clock.
You take it a part, reduce it to a number of small, simple pieces, easy to understand...
analyze them, put them all back together and then you understand the whole.
Isn't that what's known as scientific thinking, Miss Hoffman?
What you call the mechanistic view isn't that what the scientific method's all about?
Is it?
I don't think so. But I'd like to kind to hear from the physicist, Jack.
All right, I'm sorry. Please continue.
Well, you're right in a way, Mr...
Jack, call me Jack.
O.K., Jack. You're right in a sense.
But it wasn't always so, not before Descartes.
When he introduced such thinking...
it amounted to a revolutionary break with the church.
He said "I don't need the Pope to tell me how the world functions...
I can find that out for myself, because to me the world is just a machine."
And then he became fascinated with clockworks...
and made the clock into his central metaphor.
He said "I consider the human body as nothing but a machine...
A healthy man is like a well-made clock. A sick man is like an ill-made clock."
The metaphor seems a little clumsy now. But it worked, didn't it?
Yes, so successfully, that scientists came to believe...
that all living things, plants animals, us, are nothig but machines.
And that's the fallacy. It carried over into everything, arts, politics...
I don’t know, it seems to me that most people don't...
even remember who Descartes was.
- I'm sorry, I guess I just don't follow you. - But he'd like to.
If you could break it down into 30-second media bites, that's what he's used to.
Very funny.
What is it that I don't recognize? What's so bad about Descartes?
But there's nothing bad about Descartes. In fact, I think Descartes is wonderful.
He was a godsend to the 17th century. But times have changed since then.
We need a new way of understanding life.
That pendulum for example, has long since been replaced by a tiny quartz crystal.
And these magnificent hand-forged wheels...
turned into microchip the size of my thumbnail.
That's how far modern science has left mechanistic thinking behind.
But you politicians seem to have that clockwork still ticking in your head.
Keep on going, Sonia. Don't stop.
Who knows? You may have that vital piece of information we pols...
venal and stupid as we are have been missing out on all along.
There you go, thinking in terms of pieces.
Pieces are all we get of the picture, only fragments.
Come on, give some examples.
Well, let's take the population problem for example.
You can't solve it by looking at different forms of birth control in isolation.
Research has proven that the most effective form of birth control...
is not a pill, it's economic and social gains...
which will reduce the desire for large families.
That's true.
Did you know that in our world every day 40,000 children die...
from malnutrition and preventable diseases?
That's every other second.
That's now...
and now... and now...
But the short lives of these children cannot be seen in isolation...
they're part of the whole system, involving the economics...
involving the environment, and more specifically...
- involving high levels of third-world debt. - How's that?
The burden of frenzied borrowing is not falling on those with foreign banks...
...accounts, nor on those who created the imbalance.
The burden's falling on the already deprived.
Three years ago, president Nyerere asked the question:
"Must we starve our children to pay our debts?"
That question has been answered in practice...
...and the answer has been YES...
...because since he asked, hundreds and thousands of little children...
...in the third world have given their lives to pay their country's debts.
And millions more are still paying interest with their malnourished minds and bodies.
Take Brazil.
Do you know that they are destroying their Amazon rain forests...
...at the rate of one football field a second?
Now, now, now.
Why? They're trying to pay their national debt with cattle and land speculation.
They don't even have time to sell the timber...
...so they're setting fire to the woods.
And our barren forests are one of the main causes of the global warming...
...the green house effect.
And in the meantime, we are pouring our money into the arms race.
You cannot look at one single of our global problems in isolation...
...trying to understand it and solve it.
You can fix a fragment of a piece, but it will deteriorate a second later...
because what it was connected to has been ignored.
We have to change everything together at the same time.
- The ideals, the institutions, the values-- - All of this sounds kind of familiar.
Do you two know each other? Is this a setup?
Well, all right. What do I think about this?
The problems are complex but you're looking at the dark side, because us...
...are capacity to response, isn't it? Communications, databanks, technology--
We already have the tools to deal with a lot of these problems...
- ...even if they are more complex. - Candide himself, the eternal optimist.
But don't you see? There are all these new technologies...
...they're causing more problems that they solve.
In medicine for example, there's been an overwhelming increase in technology...
...but the costs have spiraled concurrently.
It's become medicine for the rich and public health hasn't improved significantly...
...although public health would improve dramatically if we...
...just changed our eating habits, for example.
But instead the experts are occupied with making artificial hearts.
If our agribusiness had fed us better instead of chopping down the rain forests...
...in order to make cattle ranches in order to produce more and more red meat...
...which is one of the diary causes of heart attacks...
...then maybe we would not to spend so much of our money on artificial hearts...
...and so on, and so on. This is all examples of interconnectedness.
But, Sonia... All right supposing that you're right...
...and everything's connected to everything else as you say...
...still you've got to start somewhere, don't you?
That's the real political question here. Where do you start?
By changing the way we're seeing the world.
You're still searching for the right piece to fix first.
You don't see that all the problems simply are fragments of one single crisis.
- A crisis of perception. - Oh, good.
The world's coming to an end and you say it's a crisis of perception.
I'm sorry, that's a little abstract for me.
And all this stuff about modern medicine, all your criticisms...
I may be a doctor's son, but you have to admit that...
...this mechanistic medicine has been pretty successful.
Well... up to a point.
But simply by blocking the mechanisms of a disease...
...doesn't mean healing it.
I mean, it's like in politics, it's just shifting the problem to another sphere.
Are you going to leave me stranded out here in this argument by myself?
I'm going to leave you stranded.
O.K... A person goes to a doctor today with recurring...
...attacks of gallstones and the doctor takes the gallbladder out.
And low and behold the pain goes away.
You could say the doctor's working from a poor perceptual model, that he just...
...concentrated on a part of the clock that wasn't working and removed it.
But the fact is the patient is out of his pain.
He's feeling better and the clock is ticking again.
His perceptual model worked.
But is everything that works good for the system?
That's disingenuous and not useful when applied to politics...
...which is, after all, a system that is based on people.
It's the art of bringing people to agree on a certain course of action.
If that course of action succeeds, the people are satisfied...
...if not, they're not.
It's as simple as that. If it works, it's good.
Isn't that what you said why politics doesn't work...
...that politics needed to become the art of the impossible?
Whose side are you on?
Hers, obviously. She's intelligent, gracious...
...and she's more attractive.
Listen, Jack. I'd like to get back to the systems.
-You know, you called me dishonest. -Oh, no, no, no...
Let's talk about the gallbladder again.
Let's say the gallbladder's out and the pain is gone...
...but what about the stress that might have caused the illness?
If that stress persists he's probably going to get sick again.
Or let's say he had changed his nutrition...
...much earlier, and done some exercise.
He may never have developed the gallstones in the first place.
A little health education might have been...
...much cheaper that the operation, a lot less painful, too.
But our system doesn't encourage prevention...
...it encourages intervention.
O.K. You're not disingenuous, but to blame all this on french philosopher...
...who's been dead 300 years, isn't that a little out of proportion...
...maybe even all a little eccentric?
No. Not if I'm right.
See, my point isn't to condemn Descartes' thinking.
It's simply to recognize its limitations.
It might have been extremely useful to perceive the world...
...as a machine for 300 years but that perception today...
...is not only inaccurate, it's actually harmful.
We need a new vision of the world.
What's that quotation?
"It's foolish for a society to try to cling to its old ideas in new times...
...just as it's foolish for a grown man to try to squeeze...
...into the coat that fit him in his youth." Something like that...
Thomas Jefferson.
Maybe you're not crazy.
I don't know, Sonia. This new vision of the world might just be...
...some sort of millennium madness as we approach the year 2000.
Oh, everybody's aware now.
We can make ourselves extinct at the press of a button.
We're soiling every square foot of land, sea and air.
That water looks clean but it's not, is it?
Nothing is.
The English Channel is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world...
...and the oysters around here are famous.
Soon they'll be unsafe to eat.
Not only that. This water is radioactive...
...contaminated by a nuclear plant a few miles from here.
Yeah, I read about that too.
Politicians can read. We know all about these things.
Some of us think about them every day. I do.
But we have to deal with a different set of constraints...
...different kinds of interdependence that those you discuss.
Let's say it turns out to be true, that what you say is true.
Cattle are brutally treated, loaded with chemicals...
...too much red meat is bad for you...
...and the landscape's being wrecked by overgrazing.
Let's say all that's turn to be true.
So for health and a hundred other reasons, I help enact a tax...
...on the consumption of red meat, the way we tax tobacco...
...to making people think twice about that kind of consumption.
What a wonderful idea!
We could do cancer and heart research for the revenue.
And I have 50 lobbyists pounding on my door...
...while a hundred different meat producers political action...
...committees poured money into my opponent's campaign...
...and my switchboard was lit up all day with calls from senators...
...and representatives and governors of all the meat-producing states.
But O.K., Sonia, just for you, let's say I take all that on.
As Sam Rayburn said "Every once in a while a man ought to do...
...something just because it's right."
But if on top of that, I come out against a few weapons programs...
...and try to do something about acid rain and sponsor a bill supporting...
...increased funding for solar energy, you know what?
By the next election anybody who would run against me...
...and I mean anybody, would have the combined funds of all those people...
...to defeat me, and he would too.
Because when you're that far ahead of public opinion...
...that's the way they let you know.
I do what everybody else does, from the lowliest congressman to the president...
...I pick a few crucial issues that I think are crucial, a part of your whole...
...and I persist until I get somewhere if I'm lucky.
For the rest, I mark time, I wait.
I go along, I... I trade off.
This is why I don't vote. It's what we've been talking about.
You get people to eat less red meat, and then you do something like...
...paying off the farmers, buying up surplus butter and subsidizing its price.
If we don't get a heart attack one way, you'll find another way.
Well, I agree with you. We wouldn't contradict ourselves...
...so much if we didn't do things piecemeal.
But you know, there's something a little scary, maybe something...
...even a little cruel about your theoretical exigency.
I mean, are you going to be the one who tells everyone what's good for them?
Are you gonna tell the farmer something's wrong with the goals his...
...family has pursued for generations then just shut them down?
Maybe we're beaten up all day by private interests...
...but at least our government now stays close to what people...
...perceive to be their needs.
Look, the world changes faster than people's perception of it.
Wouldn't be challenge for a great political leader to bridge...
...the gap, to inform, to allow us to feel responsibility?
Anyway, the people don't trust you politicians anymore.
At your last election only 50% of them even bothered to vote.
Getting them back would really require a politics of the impossible.
What a great campaign slogan. Where were you when I needed you?
I'd vote for it.
Oh, good. I'd get the poet vote.
Politics of the impossible. You might get my vote too.
Oh, great! Add to that the support of all well-informed...
...but nonparticipating-women living on medieval islands.
That's no victory.
Why does that make me angry?
Probably because they don't want have anything to do with us.
They don't believe in us.
There isn't any reason they should, except their own eventual aging.
They don't even notice where they are.
They think this is the movies, but this room is absolutely contemporary.
Everybody's got a torture chamber now. They don't even notice them.
Are you going to say this is part of your crisis of perception, too?
Maybe we're all led a little towards death, like wolves to the weak.
Or maybe people are just shits, hmm?
You'd like blame this on Descartes. I'd like blame it on anybody.
But it's such a part of human history, I...
Well, I don't know about Descartes, but I know Francis Bacon presided...
...over the witch trials of king James I at a time when millions of women were...
...tortured or burned for practicing folk medicine or worshiping...
...pre-Christian goddesses or simply because they were unusual.
I would probably have ended up on the stake myself.
I don't believe it was a metaphor when Francis Bacon wrote...
...that Nature had to be hounded in her wandering...
...bound into service, made a slave.
He even said that scientists with their new mechanical devices...
...had to torture Nature's secrets out of her.
Did you notice how he uses "her" when describing Mother Nature?
As if Nature was nothing but a witch?
Yes. It's actually fair to say that this room...
...represents a crisis of perception.
But this room was here for a long time before Descartes and Bacon.
Violence goes on no matter how mankind understands the world, doesn't it?
An exploitation... Of course, we'd all like to think it would be different...
...if we saw things differently.
But hasn't modern science, technology, business done exactly what...
...Francis Bacon preached: tortured our planet?
Didn't we just implement the old patriarchal idea about man dominating all?
I don't know, Sonia. Let me be the devil's advocate for a minute.
How much have we really tortured and hounded the planet?
You could say not much...
...compared to what the ice ages did to the world, for example.
And who sais that nature can't cope?
We're scared to death about the disappearing ozone layer...
...but we only started studying ozone levels about 10 years ago.
It could be that these so-called holes in the atmosphere...
...have been appearing and the disappearing again...
...since time's beginning. Couldn't it?
It could be that Nature has a healing mechanism we don't even know about.
It could be this hysteria about ultraviolet rays...
...is nothing more than that, just hysteria.
That's what they said about the German forests and look at them now.
More than half the trees in the black forest are dying.
We can't explain it anyway. We simply cannot take the risk.
Right here around this island the tides are slowing down, maybe because of silt...
...building up from garbage dumped in the bay or from the overuse of fertilizers.
Lakes can die, entire oceans become polluted...
...topsoil, forests, water, poisoned, dead.
Things can change so fast at the hands of man.
Nature becomes fragile, rain becomes acid.
I agree with everything you said. But why this patriarchal fixation?
Those women witches were betrayed by other women.
Phyllis Schlafly, a woman, has written that God's...
...greatest gift to mankind was the atom bomb.
These are women. Why not just say what's patriarchal...
...is what's evil in both men and women?
There's plenty to go around unless you happen to believe...
...these women were brainwashed by men, like Patty Hearst.
Why are you so scornful?
Look, there are two great principles functioning in this entire...
...living world: the male principle, pick the adjective...
...aggressive, dominating, whatever; and the female principle...
...nurturing, caretaking, gentle, whatever...
What I'm saying is that these 2 principles may have been in a rough balance.
But now the men and yes, I do think IT IS the men...
...have created the tools, the weapons both intellectually...
...and physically to bring these two principles way out of balance.
We've been placing mechanistic tools in the hands of power-oriented patriarchal people.
I'm saying you men are out of control now and I, you, we... all we are the victims.
So what's the risk?
What's wrong with giving the female principle an opportunity?
And I say let's get out of this room.
It's having a torturous effect on our relationship.
Look, Sonia. I'm sorry if I ruffled your feathers down there.
I just, um... you know... I'm a failed husband.
I'm a little too sensitive about all that stuff.
I'm also a starving poet and a bad teacher...
...and Jack's another midlife casualty, except his wife's...
...still around. May be there's a connection in there somewhere for you.
What do you do? What brings you to this remote place?
Well, let's see...
I'm a scientist still, even though I'm on a semi permanent sabbatical.
How come?
I got tired of seeing my work fed to the U. S. Defense Department.
I'm a physicist, the only woman in my graduate department...
...the first in Norway doing quantum field theory. My specialty was lasers.
At that time, the challenge was to design lasers of ever-shorter wavelengths.
The shorter the wavelength, the more powerful the laser.
Our ultimate goal was to create an x-ray laser.
One day I hit upon an unusual idea which, as it turned out...
...led to a major advance in that x-ray laser.
Well, when you do something like that, science treats you very well.
I got many attractive offers...
First from Paris and then from the States and I took them.
Finally working quite happily in Boston until one day...
I discovered, totally unexpectedly, that my work was being perverted.
I had always looked at the medical applications of my work of using...
...this laser to provide holographic images of cells or even molecules.
It could have helped us solve so many puzzles, even the formation of cancer cells.
But what really happened was that a more sophisticated version of my idea was...
...being used in the star wars program, and it blew my mind.
It... it made me re-evaluate my whole profession.
Anyway, to cut it short...
...in the midst of other events I just got up and left.
What were the other events, if I may ask?
Experiences not all that different from yours, I suppose.
I left Boston and eventually I came here.
I just came one day from Paris and the place took hold of me.
I kept coming back.
There were weeks when the storms chased the tourists away...
...and I had this place all to myself.
I started to look at how my special knowledge of subatomic physics...
...relates to the way I perceive the world at large.
I don't know, but I think that I'll have something to say after my time here.
I don't know yet if it will fit into a coherent whole.
But it's what I ponder when I take my morning walks, which...
...today, for some reason, brought me to you two.
See, every morning, I walk across the island regardless...
...of the weather trying to understand its other language.
The stones speak, and I'm silent.
Something like that, yes. That's from a poem, isn't it?
Well, maybe, I don't know. Do you ever write down any of your thoughts?
Oh, yes, all the time.
I'd like to combine my notes into a book and call it...
...Ecological Thinking, as opposed to Cartesian Thinking.
Yeah, Descartes wrote in latin. His latin name was Cartesius, hence Cartesian.
Really? I thought it meant map-like, like a map.
- You thought it meant like "a la carte". - Yes, like a menu.
Then his name would have been Menusian.
I'd like to offer this ecological way of thinking as a new way of looking at things.
Help us overcome this crisis of perception.
See, what I've found here is that to think in an ecological way...
...simply makes more sense of everything.
It gives me a much firmer grasp of reality. It gives me strength.
Knowledge is power?
Yes, but in the sense of personal empowerment.
Not that old male urge for power over others.
Descartes' evil empire again?
Descartes had a dream.
It was really Isaac Newton who made that dream come true.
Who transformed it into scientific theory, into power.
"May God us keep from single vision and Newton's sleep." William Blake.
- I'm very impressed. - You two would have a lot in common.
He was writing in poetry 200 years ago what you're saying today in prose.
He hated Newton's concept of single vision.
He dedicated his entire life to making art that denied single vision.
Of course, the people of his time thought he was a crank.
Whereas they revered Newton almost as a god.
By reducing all physical phenomena to the motion of material particles...
...a motion caused by the force of gravity, he was able to describe the exact...
...effect of gravity on any object with precise mathematical equations.
We call it Newton's laws of motion...
...really, the great achievement of 17th century science.
You mean all that stuff I slept through in high school, that square root of...
...the hypotenuse divided by a pinch of magnesium?
Well, in the right hands, or should I say, aroused minds...
...these equations seems to work beautifully.
I could use Newton's equations to calculate and explain...
...every motion of that throw, from the ballistic curve to the ripples in the water.
This was a feat so impressive for the time that Newton's...
...mathematical system immediately established itself as...
...The correct theory of reality, the ultimate laws of nature.
Descartes' dream of the world as a perfect machine...
...was now an established fact.
It brought with it such a wealth of benefits for people.
People could do things they never been able to do before.
It was irresistible, and of course, the old notions of...
...the world as a living organism was swept away.
So, what's wrong with Newton?
Well, this is my daughter Kit and her friend Roman.
Kit, this is Thomas Harriman.
- How you do? - And this is Jack, uh--
- Jack Edwards. - Yeah, Jack Edwards. Hi.
What do you think of this new ecological view of your mother's?
It's O.K.
Kit is utterly bored hearing me talk about it.
Yeah, well... We're going to go. Nice to meet you.
Yes, nice meeting you.
- Have fun. - See you later.
Well, so she's living here with you?
No, she's in her first year in college, she's on a break.
But right now, yes, I think she's utterly bored living here with me.
I understand that. I have two of my own.
Yeah, I had-- I mean I have one.
You know, it's no accident that Turner painted light...
...when he did or that light became the inspiration of the impressionists.
The nature of light became an obsession with the physicists, too.
See, none of them could visualize how the light of the sun reached the earth.
Why? What is nature of light?
To understand the nature of light, you have to know what matter is made of.
I thought it was made of atoms.
What's an atom? Newton thought it was small, solid particles.
But that's not what scientists saw when they observed atoms for the first time.
What they saw was totally unexpected and shocking.
You mean, when they discovered atoms were made up of even smaller particles...
...a nucleus with electrons whirling around it?
Not only that. They were moving in relatively vast regions of empty space.
That's what shook the scientists up. Atoms consist mainly of empty space.
What's that mean, vast regions of empty space? Atoms are tiny.
Yes, they are, this is what's so hard to visualize.
See, the size of atoms is so far removed from our ordinary sense of scale and...
...proportion that it's extremely hard to get a feeling for the relative...
...sizes and distances of their particles.
Ask yourself, how many atoms are there in an orange?
To answer this, you'll have to blow up the orange to a size...
...where you can actually see the atoms.
You'll have to blow up the orange until it's reached the size of the earth.
The atoms inside of it will then be the size of cherries.
Myriads of cherries tightly packed into an orange the size of earth.
Wow, what an image! I'm serious.
I was trying to shrink the earth orange back to a real orange and...
...imagine all those cherries whizzing around, it made me dizzy.
This is a dangerous height to be dizzy at.
But O.K. The atom’s the size of a cherry and in that cherry-atom...
...there's all of this empty space. What about the nucleus?
There's a nucleus, right? How big is that?
"Invisible" is the answer.
If we blow up the atom to the size of a football...
...the nucleus would still be invisible.
If we blow it up to the size of a sphere that fits...
...in this room, the nucleus would still be invisible.
What about the size of this island, the rock we're standing on?
We would blow the atom, the cherry, up to the size of this island...
...then the nucleus would be the size of a small pebble, something like that.
And the electrons would be much smaller still.
We would have to look for them all the way down there...
...at the edge of the island.
And whole space in between would be empty.
- Wow, that's fantastic! - That's weird.
That's even weirder than poetry.
So, what you're saying is that if there were a sphere...
...large enough to contain this whole island...
...it would actually consist of a pebble and a few grains of sand?
That's all this huge sphere contains?
In other words, nothing? It's empty?
But if this rock is made of spheres like that, then what makes it so solid?
Why can't I pass my hand through it?
-Why don't we fall through it? -Why don't we fall through everything?
This is the obvious question that physicists had to ask.
Now remember that all the newtonian concepts were based on things...
...that could actually be seen or at least visualized...
...but what they were now finding in this strange and unexpected world...
...were concepts that could no longer be visualized.
And when they went on battling with these absurd phenomena of...
...atomic physics, they were forced to admit to themselves...
...they didn't have a language, not even an adequate way of...
...thinking to describe their new discoveries.
They were forced to think in entirely new ways.
In terms of radically new concepts.
To understand why matter is so solid they had to question the conventional ideas...
...about the very existence of matter, and after many frustrating years...
...they were forced to admit that matter does not exist with certainty...
...in definite places, but rather shows tendencies to exist.
Tendency? What's that mean?
Let's say we want to observe an electron out there.
We cannot say it is in a definite place, we can rather say it...
...has a tendency to be out there in the front, rather that in...
...the back, or here to the left, rather that over there to the right.
In scientific language we actually don't speak about tendencies...
...we speak about probabilities.
I seem to remember voting for a bill that gave some physicists a lot of money for...
...a detector that they said would tell them exactly where an electron is.
- Were we being gypped? - Not at all.
The strange thing is that when you actually make a measurement of the electron...
...it is in a definite place, but between measurements you can not say...
...that it is in a definite place or that it has traveled...
...a definite path from one place to another.
You mean when you want to measure it, it just sort of shows up?
Like out-of-work actors or presidential candidates like Jack Edwards.
What do you think? What do you think?
- Hey tough guy. - Yeah.
Oh, my knees hurt.
O.K. Let me get this straight.
You measure and the electron is there, it shows up, like Tom said.
But in between measurements, you can't say for sure that it's...
...in a definite place or even that it went on...
...a definite path from one place to another.
So how does it go from here to there? It moves, doesn't it?
- You mean it stays in the same place? - No.
Either the electron moves, or it doesn't move.
Well, you can't say that.
Well, are you getting a feeling now of what these physicists felt?
You see, an electron doesn't move from place to place.
And it doesn't stay in one place, either.
It manifests itself as probability patterns spread out in space.
And the shape of these probability patterns changes with time...
...something which might seem like movement to human perception.
Are you saying that the electron gets smeared out over a large...
...region and then when you measure it with the measuring gun...
...it collapses into a small point?
You got it.
All subatomic particles, electrons, protons, neutrons...
...manifest this strange existence between potentiality and reality.
So at the subatomic level, there are no solid objects.
No, there are not.
Well, if there are no solid objects at the subatomic level...
...how are there solid objects at any level?
That's the amazing thing.
This simple question, what makes this rock so solid?
...goes way beyond our power of imagination.
I mean, I cannot explain this to you in visual terms.
Of course I can do it in mathematical equations...
...but there's no metaphor for it.
How can you live in a world that's unmetaphorical?
I mean, you have to perceive reality in some way.
I mean, this is solid.
Let's take an atom from within this granite...
...the silicon atom with its 14 electrons.
The probability patterns of these electrons arrange themselves...
...like shells around the nucleus, each shell containing several electrons.
Within the shells the electrons are every where at the same time...
...so to speak, but the probability patterns that resemble shells...
...are extremely stable and very hard to compress.
Matter is solid because probability patterns are difficult to compress?
That's as good as it gets.
So I was right to sleep through Mr. Gides' physic class...
...that model he made me out of tinker toys with sticks...
- ...and balls that was wrong, right? - Right, wrong.
Yeah, it's a lousy visualization, but then, no one did it any better.
"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would...
...appear as it is, infinite." William Blake.
So, Sonia, life's a bunch of probability patterns running around.
- Probability patterns of what? - Of interconnections.
Well, what I'm trying to say is that this probabilities are not...
...probabilities of things, but probabilities of interconnections.
See, Jack. That's what she was trying to tell you.
See, we tend to think of subatomic particles are some kind of small...
...billiards balls or small grains of sand.
But for physicists a particle has no independent existence.
A particle is essentially a set of relations that reach...
...outward to connect with other things.
What are those other things, please?
They're interconnections of yet other things which also...
...turn out to be interconnections, and so on, and so on.
In atomic physics we never end up with any things at all.
The essential nature of matter lies not in objects, but in interconnections.
Everybody knows the chord, it's a third, the most basic of harmonies.
It carries with it a very distinctive feeling, no?
And yet it's individual notes carry none of that feeling.
Therefore, the essence of the chord lies in its--
Lies in relationships.
And then the relationship between time and pitch...
- Makes melody. - Makes melody.
- Relationships make music. - Relationships make matter.
- Music of the spheres. - As Kepler said.
- And Shakespeare before him. - And Pythagoras before him.
Now, this vision of the universe arranged in harmonies of...
...sounds and relations is no new discovery.
Today, physicists are simply proving that what we call an object...
...an atom, a molecule, a particle, is only an approximation, a metaphor.
At the subatomic level, it dissolves into a series of...
...interconnections like chords of music. It's beautiful.
Yeah, but there are boundaries, aren't there?
I mean, between you and me, for instance.
We are two separate bodies, aren't we? That's not an illusion. Is it?
Are you saying that there is a physical connection...
...between you and me, and you and the wall behind you...
- ...and the air and this bench? - Yes.
At the subatomic level there is a continual exchange of...
...matter and energy between my hand and this wood...
...between the wood and the air, and even between you and me.
I mean a real exchange of photons and electrons.
Ultimately, whether we like it or not...
...we're all part of one inseparable web of relationships.
- How does all this explain light? - Yes, finally, light.
Light doesn't need a medium because although it...
...travels in waves, it also travels as particles.
Light is both particles and waves?
Yes, but the particles of light, which we call photons...
...are of a very special kind.
Unlike other particles, they never stands still.
They never speed up, they never slow down.
They always travel at the same speed. The speed of light.
And the waves are not ordinary waves, like water waves.
They're abstract patterns of probabilities traveling in the form...
- ...of waves. -Patterns of relationships like everything else?
- Exactly. - I get it...
Well, I don't get it. But I... I get it.
Let there be light.
And like light, a great variety of other high-energy particles...
...cosmic rays bombard the earth.
All these particles colliding with the air creating...
...more particles, interacting further, creating and...
...destroying more particles, and we are in the middle of this cosmic...
...dance of creation and destruction. All of us, all the time.
- Shiva Nataraj. - I beg your pardon?
Shiva Nataraj. The hindu god of dance.
The hindus believe that Shiva's dance sustains the universe...
...that Shiva's dance IS the universe. A ceaseless flow of energy going...
...through a multiplicity of patterns dissolving into one another...
- That's physics. - No, that's poetry.
That's wonderful. No, really. That's great.
But I hope it doesn't bother anybody.
What do you do with this? What's it for?
You don't do anything with it, I don't think.
You just think about it, just contemplate it.
You guys hungry? I'm hungry. Let's go get something to eat.
How can they do that here? I mean, how can they do that anywhere?
- It's your fault. - What?!
Well, O.K., it's not your fault.
It's physicists' fault. They made the bomb.
Well, you can't blame littering on the bomb.
Why not? The bomb made the whole planet disposable.
Littering is an expression of powerlessness.
Like, "hey, what difference does more crap make?"
It's all going anyway. Kaplooey!
Maybe you're right.
You know, I visited Hiroshima 10 years ago.
I went to the museums.
I saw the photographs of devastation.
I went to the Peace Park.
Looked at all the monuments... the statue of a mother with a baby...
...the statue of a goddess enveloped in paper cranes...
...Big Peace Bell.
And then I saw a mound about 6 feet high covered with grass.
It wasn't decorated in any way.
It wasn't a symbol of anything, no monument.
It simply contained the ashes of the atomic bomb victims.
The actual remains of what was left of tens, maybe hundreds...
...and thousands of men and women and children...
...incinerated because of our knowledge.
A flash of light that burned them and obliterated them and totally...
...transformed the world.
And as I stood in front of that mound of ashes I...
...felt that I was face-to-face with the victims of--
I can't say it. The victims of...
...my work as a scientist, as a physicist.
I cried.
When I was little, up on the third floor with my brother...
...we'd lay on our beds watching the heat lightning flashes...
...and he'd say "What's that?"
And I'd say "That's it, that's the big one, we're all going to die."
You can't make yourself responsible for Hiroshima, Sonia...
...just because you do physics.
You didn't invent the bomb. And even if you had, somebody...
...else decided to use it, a politician.
Oppenheimer said he felt he had blood on his hands...
...and he did invented it. President Truman's answer was...
"Who the hell does he think he is?
I'm the one who ordered them to drop the damn thing."
Even Oppenheimer wasn't to blame.
Scientists are supposed to figure things out, the rest of us figure...
...out what to do about it.
I'm sorry, Sonia. I was kidding.
Maybe littering is more an expression of poor toilet training, hmm?
I don't know, maybe we could change the subject.
There's no accountability for scientists as there is for...
...other professions.
Why aren't we obliged, like medical doctors, to not...
...use our knowledge destructively?
It's not that simple. I don't think.
Oppenheimer said he had blood in his hands.
He had regrets after the fact.
I have regrets because of my x-ray laser.
See, I'm responsible for the consequences of my discovery.
You know, we never talked about responsibility at the university...
...not in my time. We never discussed ethics.
We were never taught value thinking.
No one induced upon us the wisdom of the american...
...indian tribes who made all their...
...important decisions with the seventh generation in mind.
We were never taught to think about the future that way.
We were taught in our closed rooms that we were doing pure science...
...in pursuit of pure truth. The noble pursuit of pure truth.
Well, that's what science is, Sonia. Don't be so hard on yourself.
No, that's what science was maybe, but pure science hardly exists today.
The scientist isn't sitting in his lab anymore choosing to work...
...on what fascinates him most. Science is expensive.
The Pentagon, who pays most of it, decides what is fascinating.
70% of all science done in the United States today is paid by the military.
We give our knowledge away without thinking about the values...
...without thinking about who is responsible.
But there is oversight.
I've served on some of those oversight committees.
Scientism is any rational belief in the truth of science.
It's become a religion today.
It's not a good religion, but it is a dominating religion.
And people, of course, who see what miracles physicists...
...are able to achieve, like going to outer space, splitting atoms...
...or making bombs, believe that scientists who are so powerful...
...also must be very wise, and so they don't question their...
...work anymore and they leave their own responsibility in the...
...hands of these people they envision to have this power of knowledge.
And although they know that scientists are doing scary...
...things in the shadows, they just hope that they will be careful.
And then scientists hand over THEIR responsibility...
...to those who are paying them.
And I know what happens when you hand over your responsibility...
...to those who pay you, like I did with my laser.
It broke my heart.
If you're worried about the possible dangers of genetic engineering...
...you get advice from a scientist.
He's the only one who understands.
You pretty much have to take his word for it too...
...because often you don't know even what questions to ask.
Science should welcome your questions, because science...
...itself should question everything.
You know, this oversight committees hold hearings from time to time...
...where the public is invited to comment, maybe you should be there.
Personally, you might be able to do some good.
He's still running. Only the Terminator can stop him.
Should we get the check?
- I'll pay. - Oh, no, no.
1968, Chicago. Democratic Convention.
The cops are getting ready the charge the demonstrator and I'm standing...
...next to this guy who I've never before seen, and I say to him...
"Well, I'm going home". He says "Don't go home, go into politics"
...and like a fool, I listened to him.
That guy was Jack who is today a conservative democrat...
...whatever the hell that is.
I was working for a delegate, I wasn't even a demonstrator.
I was just trying to get into the Hall. Then the cops charged the crowd.
We all got tear-gassed, I broke my nose. We spent the night in Mayor Daley's jail.
Whatever happened to all those people?
Jesse Jackson got most of them. The rest went to sleep.
I don't mean politically, Jack. The primaries are over.
Personally... whatever happened to them? Where they live? What do they do?
I don't know personally.
But politically, the Green Party got them, at least in Europe.
Peace activists, environmentalists, the feminists, the students left...
...the Green Party got them all.
What happened to them really?
I think it proves that ecological thinking is getting stronger and stronger...
...people who see the whole picture, who see that all these questions...
...are related to each other.
- She's back. - And Gorvachev?
Gorvachev? Was he at the Chicago Demonstration?
Mom. I thought you were with those men.
- I am. They're out there. Hello, Roman. - Bonjour, Madame.
We're going to the beach. I'm changing my shoes.
- What's the trouble? - Nothing.
- Did I do something wrong? - No, it's...
...just I can't stand you talking about what's wrong with the world...
...and your new vision of reality, when what I hear is that...
...you're talking about your own problems.
How your self feel disconnected, I mean, you can't even relate to me.
- Are you coming with us this time? - Yeah. Come, Kit. Please.
- Do you mind if I go? - No.
I like Jack. Be real with him. Don't bore him to death.
- Kit, he's a married man. - It could do you some good.
In the 1968, Richard Nixon won the youth vote.
In 1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan did the same thing.
Majority of americans are very conservative.
I think we are dealing with a historical process that's so deep that...
...even americans won't be able to resist it much longer.
When I look around in the sciences, I see the same patterns emerging everywhere...
...the same notions of holism, the same thinking in terms of processes...
...instead of structures. It's happening in America too, because once something...
...takes hold in the sciences, it will spread.
It always has, whether we like it or not.
I'm glad to hear you say that.
I thought you'd given up on America.
What's wrong with him?
The color has probably caught him.
He's a poet. He's got a license to be moody.
It's taken him miles from his home, but it's kept him free.
I sometimes think he can change his thoughts, his point of view...
...about anything anytime he wants.
When he meets someone like you who sees things in a...
...completely new way, he's totally free to go along with it.
And should you succeed in really changing his views and win him over.
You can be sure, he'd put those new ideas into a play or...
...a poem and people would admire him for his flexibility.
And you... you feel constrained by your constituency.
Yeah, kind of.
They want me to be the good old conservative democrat...
...they voted for and basically, that's what I am.
Anyway, I'm supposed to represent them. It's not all up to me.
It's supposed to be the will of the people that sets the course and the government...
...that finds the means, the best way to give the folks what they want.
Of course, it's all a mess right now. The problems are so complex.
There's so much crossover from one problem to another.
It's hard for people to even begin to think about them.
But still... I think Thomas Jefferson was every bit as...
...great a mind as Isaac Newton was.
I doubt if there's been a better form of government...
...anywhere in history ever and, of course, getting into...
...politics is nothing to be ashamed of.
To me it's still the biggest challenge there is.
But things are changing faster and faster every day.
A few years back, the greenhouse effect was just a theory...
...and now... we're just not keeping up.
But, Sonia, the question is, can you ideas change that?
Hasn't a lot of what we've talked about been discussed...
...and recognized already, recognized in all the environmental legislation?
Clean water in '72. Clean air in '77. 12, 14 years ago.
And we're still falling behind.
So can your ideas make these things move faster?
I mean, if you're going to wait for most of the...
people to be ready to go along with you, before you move...
which is what you have to do...
I'm sure you're not a secret lover of dictatorships, but...
...wouldn't it take some totalitarian regime to put ideas as comprehensive...
...as yours into effect? So, how does all this translate into politics?
Is this just going to be the best conversation I've had in months or is...
...there still a chance you can get me elected president? That's what I...
- ...want to know. - You're still asking me for a program.
I'm trying to make you embrace a vision...
...but you just want to know what the packaging is.
I'm a practical man. I'm from Missouri.
- I thought you were from the east coast. - That's an expression. It means: Show Me.
Devising policies, that's your job.
I do think that as long as you continue looking at things...
...through that old patriarchal-cartesian-newtonian lens...
...you're going to miss out on what the world really is.
You, we, all of us, we need a new vision of the world and we need a more...
...comprehensive, more inclusive science to support us.
There is a new theory emerging now which places all the ecological...
...concepts we've talking about into one coherent, scientific framework.
We call it Systems Theory, the theory of living systems.
Living systems?
All living organisms as well as social systems and ecosystems.
This theory would help us get a much firmer grasp on...
...the sciences that deal with life.
Are these all your own ideas, or do other people share them?
Has these been applied in the sciences anywhere?
Am I a crank? It's O.K., senator.
This is real science, and many scientists, including some...
...Nobel laureates, have been working on these ideas...
Prigogine, Bateson, Maturana, just to mention a few.
Yes, it is science, but of a new kind.
Instead of concentrating on basic building blocks, the...
...systems view concentrates on principles of organization.
Instead of cutting things to pieces, it looks at the...
...living system as a whole.
How can you think usefully about things in this holistic way?
You can contemplate them, you can look at them, as Thomas says...
But if you want to do something, if you want to get into specifics...
...by definition, don't you have to take things apart?
How you can talk usefully about a tree without talking...
...about its roots, or its leaves or its bark?
Well, I could without even naming the parts you mention.
A cartesian would look at the tree and conceptually take...
...it to pieces, but then he would never really understand...
...the nature of the tree.
A systems thinker would look at the tree and see the...
...seasonal exchange between tree and earth, earth and sky.
Would see the annual cycle, which really is one big breath...
...the earth takes through its forests, providing us with oxygen.
A breath of life, linking the earth with the sky and us with the universe.
A systems thinker would look at the tree and see the life of the tree...
...only in relation to the life of the whole forest.
Would see the tree as a habitat for birds, a home for insects.
But if you look at the tree and try to understand it as something separate...
...you will be bewildered by the millions of fruits it's producing...
...in its lifetime because only one or two trees will grow from those fruits.
Though if you look at the tree and see it as a member of a...
...larger living system, that abundance of fruits will make...
...sense, because hundreds upon hundreds of forest animals...
...and birds will survive because of them... Interdependence.
And the tree cannot survive on its own, either.
To draw water from the ground it needs the fungus that...
...grows at the tip of each root, and the fungus needs the...
...root to survive, and the root needs the fungus.
If one dies, the other dies.
And there are millions of relationships like this in our world...
...each depending on each other for life.
The Systems Theory recognizes this web of relationships...
...as the essence of all living things.
Only the uninformed would call such a notion naive or romantic...
...because this dependency we all share is a scientific fact.
A web of relationships?
Yes, but this time it is the web of life itself.
The theory of living systems actually provides you with an outline...
...of an answer to that eternal question: What is Life?
O.K., Sonia. Let's hear it. What's life?
In system language the answer would be... The Essence of Life is Self-Organization.
- What's so funny? - That's great.
What is life, ma'am? Is self-organizing, I mean, that's very nice.
That's very, very, very, nice.
That's very nice, ma'am. That's very, very nice.
I don't know, it sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
Maybe somebody down here speaks your language... Jabberwocky?
You know, as Merlin once said to King Arthur...
"Don't dishonor your feast by rejecting what's come to it"
Well said. What is life?
Life is self-organizing. Well, that's just extraordinary.
Yes, it is. And it means something specific too.
It means that a living system is self-maintaining, self-renewing...
- ...self-transcending. - What does self-maintaining mean?
Well, it means that a living system, although depending on...
...its environment, is not determined by it.
Take the yellow fields of rye around this island, with all...
...the rain here those fields should be green all year round...
...but every summer they turn yellow, why?
Well, to use a metaphor, each plant "remembers" that it originated...
...in the hot and dry climate of southern Asia, it remembers...
...and not even a dramatically different climate can change its inner workings.
- Self-maintaining, self-organizing. - I see.
What about self-renewing? What does that mean?
Take us. Like all living organisms, we are constantly replacing...
...ourselves in continuous cycles, much faster than you can imagine.
You pancreas, for example, do you know that it replaces most...
...of its cells within 24 hours?
That means that you wake up with a new pancreas each morning...
...and a new stomach lining as well.
And you skin, do you know that your skin falls off at the rate of...
...100,000 cells a minute?
Do you know that most of the dust in our homes consists of our...
...own dead skin cells?
That'll get into a poem. Our households are filled with dead skin.
But at the same time, as all these dead cells are being shed...
...just as many are dividing and producing new skin.
That's self-renewing.
As Heraclitus once said "A man can't step into the same river...
...twice", Sonia says a man can't shake hands with the same man...
- ...twice with the same hand, right? - Yes and no.
Though most of our cells are being replaced, we do recognize...
...each other because the pattern of our organization...
...is still the same.
That's one of the important characteristics of life...
...continuous structural change, but stability in the pattern...
- ...of the system's organization. - And that's all there is to life?
No, there is self-transcending.
Self-organization is not only the living systems...
...maintaining themselves and continuously renewing themselves.
It also means that they have an inherent tendency to...
...transcend themselves, to reach out and create new forms.
That is one of the most exciting parts to me that the basic dynamics...
...of evolution it's not adaptation, it's creativity.
You mean living systems will evolve just for the hell of it?
They'll go exploring whether they need it for survive or not?
I'm not so far out of step as I usually suppose?
No, you're not. Creativity is a basic element of evolution.
Every living organism has the potential for creativity...
...for surprising and transcending itself.
- Creating what, for instance, beauty? - Oh, yes, beauty too.
Evolution is so much more than adaptation to the environment...
...because what is the environment if not a living system wich evolves...
...and creatively adapts itself? So, which adapts to which?
Each to the other, they... co-evolve.
Evolution is an ongoing dance, an ongoing conversation.
We are systems, and the planet is a system.
We don't evolve on the planet, we evolve with the planet.
Wouldn't it be extraordinarily powerful if you could introduce...
...just that one idea into the political dialogue?
Yeah, Jack. There might be something in this for you to...
...renew you candidacy, while as for Sonia and myself--
I beg you're going to say it was my destiny to come here and...
...meet Sonia and listen to these ideas. What am I going to do about this?
I come from a country where they use 40% of the world's...
...resources to support 6% of the world's population, which...
...makes the population so happy and peaceful that we're...
...the world's biggest drug market.
Half our teenagers contemplate suicide, one in five girls has tried it.
Would a system thinker give nuclear energy a second thought?
We're up to our necks in all of its waste.
And the most important issue of what you've just been saying...
...is the obsessive pursuit of growth. That has to stop.
I know, I know. I've been over this a hundred times...
...obsessive growth, pathological growth, destructive growth...
...but how are you going to get anybody to accept it?
What am I going to do? Where do you start?
We have to give importance to the next generation, and the next.
It was only when we failed to include them in...
...our scientific theories, and in our pursuit of growth...
...that we placed all living systems in jeopardy.
Just contemplate that horrifying fact that we are leaving to our...
...children the most poisonous of wastes: plutonium.
It's going to remain poisonous for the next generation...
...and the next, and the next.
In fact, it's going to remain poisonous for a half million years.
We should never have accepted that theory "Knowledge is power".
We should never have accepted the idea that what's good for...
...General Motors is good for America. We need a sustainable society.
One in which our needs are being satisfied without diminishing...
...the possibilities of the next generation.
You're asking me-- You're asking me what should you do?
I don't know what you should do. You know what you should do.
I know that what worked for me was to come here, be quiet...
...and take one thing at a time, think one thought to its end.
Now, that was my first real step... Telling you was my second.
You can't pass the buck that easily.
How about doing something direct about this?
How about helping me? How about joining my staff?
What-- What do you mean?
I don't know...
Finding a way to get these ideas of yours into the political mainstream.
You say the ideas are practical, I'll give you a chance to prove it.
It would be a frustrating work, you'd have to watch a lot of lying...
...and wheeling and dealing and learns how to compromise, too.
You'd have to get your hands dirty.
I get them dirty the way I want here, in my Ivory Tower...
...where I can sit and think.
Jack, with his tenacious pursuit of the common good, not...
...to mention his own career, just doesn't seem to understand...
...how an individual could want to get away...
...a long, long way away, thousands and thousands and...
...thousands of miles away.
So you can be a voice crying in the wilderness instead...
...of being one of many voices trying to be heard over the clamor?
Believe me, I can appreciate being here...
I can understand why that would be nice...
I see the pedestrian nature of political work, but...
Look, if you're going to say no, don't say anything just think it over.
What time does the tide actually come in?
It will be soon now. It's going to reach its all-year high today.
We can go closer. Come.
Thomas must like you.
He doesn't usually have this much time for other people's ideas. Do you?
Not yours, maybe. No, that's not nice.
Yes, I like her. I like you.
You have a lot of guts to come here, isolate, stay put...
...determine to figure things out until you had something...
...to offer a couple of sods like you and I.
A lot of people talk about doing thins like that.
But how many people actually do it?
You could have stayed as long, read as much, and decided...
...you have nothing to offer.
An isolation in and of itself is a very scaring thing, Jack.
So, yeah, I like you. I like you, too.
It was very brave of you to listen. I'd have been disappointed if you hadn't.
But you know, Jack, I'm not so sure that strong-arming her...
...into a washingtonian office is exactly where she needs to be right now.
In fact, it may be exactly where she doesn't need to be.
What's eating you?
Yeah, you're right. What is this, group therapy?
All this is covered in water when the tide comes in, isn't it?
Oh, yes.
Including the pastures, must take a special breed of sheep...
...to be able grazing here around with all this salt.
And how could the grass grow without the manure and the...
...sheep grazing on it?
I wouldn't be surprised if the people here have a taste for salty lambs...
...so the people are in it too... the sea, the grass, the people, the sheep.
«You asked me what the lobster is weaving down there with its golden feet?
I tell you, the ocean knows this.
You say, who is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell?
I tell you, it's waiting for time, like you.
You say, who does the Macrocystis algae hug in its arms?
Study it, study it at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal...
...and I respond by describing to you how the sea unicorn...
...with a harpoon in it dies.
You inquire about the kingfisher's feathers which tremble...
...in the pure springs of the southern shores...
I want to tell you that the ocean knows this...
...that life in its jewel boxes is endless as the sand...
...impossible to count, pure, and that time among the blood-colored grapes...
...has made the petal hard and shiny, filled the...
...jellyfish with light, untied its knot letting its musical threads...
...fall from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.
I'm nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead of human eyes...
...dead in the darknesses, of fingers accustomed to the triangle...
...longitudes on the timid globe of an orange.
I walked around like you investigating the endless star.
And in my net during the night I woke up naked.
The only thing caught? A fish trapped inside the wind.»
Pablo Neruda.
Pablo Neruda!
That remind you of anything?
"Walked around investigating the endless star?"
Isn't that what you do, Sonia?
"And in my net during the night, I awoke naked--" Isn't that what you do?
Don't you take your net and throw it into these far-out places...
...of quantum physics and systems theory?
And don't you find that the only thing you ever catch...
...is your own self back again?
Like a fish trapped inside the wind?
Where are the other people in your system, Sonia... the ones you love?
And what about this tourists here that we feel so superior to?
Aren't they, too, like fish trapped inside the wind?
And, I don't know, maybe even the feeling's more terrible for them...
...because they don't have words to describe it.
So, tell me Sonia, where are all of us in there...
...the real people with their qualities, their longings, their weaknesses?
Where are you inside there, Sonia? Where's Kit?
You know, scientists can tell us what life's internal...
...metaphors are, whether they're computer chips or clocks.
Politician can tell us what forms our lives should take...
But, uh...
I feel just as reduced being called a system as I do being called a clock.
Life's just... just not condensable.
One group of people uses one set of words to change...
...the world, then another set of people come along with a...
...different set of words to change it. And I don't mind, you know?
It's all the same to me. I don't mind a bit.
It's like the seasons changing, and I like you.
I like your timorous courage.
I like the fact that you want to make the world a better place.
And I like my silly friend Jack who's crazy enough to think...
...that he wants to be the president of the United States.
And as for me... don't mind me. I'm a... fool.
But remember...
Life feels itself. Life feels itself.
Differently, perhaps, than all your words for how to manage it.
And even with the best intentions in the world you'll go wrong if you forget...
...that life-- life-- life--
...life is infinitely more than yours or my obtuse theories about it.
Healing the universe is an inside job, and you've helped me.
And I love you.
And I love you too. I love you both.
What a day! What a day!
Well, if we're going to go, we better leave now.
Why don't you just stay?
I don't know. Why don't you just come? Anyway, thanks.
Thank you.
Don't thank me, I loved the day. I hate goodbyes.
Maybe it's not goodbye. Please think about what I said.
- Let us know how the water raises. - Does that matter?
Of course it matters. Let it get all the way back the line.
Let it renew itself. Right, Sonia? Maybe come to Paris to let me know.
- Or Washington. - Or New York.
Where are the other people in your system, Sonia... the ones you love?
The real people with their qualities... their longings, their weaknesses.
Mom, are you O.K.?
Where are you inside there, Sonia? Where's Kit?
What are you thinking?
Shall we go home?
I feel like my long weekend in France has just come to a close.
Maybe I, too, am tired of being a stranger, of being outside...
...a language environment which lived, which resonated inside me...
...our emotional system, as she might say, needs a larger system to nurture it.
Doesn't make any difference.
You're locked in with the people you know, you need to belong somewhere.
- He's right, of course, about damn near everything.
Even the parts I didn't understand felt right.
So... should I just go with it?
Is this one of those turning points?
«You the woman, I the man, this the world, and each is the work of all.
It is the muffled step in the sand, the stranger, the crippled wren...
...the nun, the dance of the angels, winging over the walkers in the village.
And there are many beautiful arms around us and the things we know...»
I don't know how the rest of that damn poem goes.
Subtitles by: Colectivo Intuición del Espacio.
Colaborators: Milton de Jesús Medellín Álvarez
and Néstor Daniel Pérez Muñoz.
Revision and ressync: http://www.youtube/ECOmantiqueira