How long ago was it when I went to the marathon screening of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue, the entire ten episodes shown in one full day? It must be more than 15 years ago. Kieslowski's films have a such important place in my memory, it is hard to imagine he has left more than 10 years ago.
This time I have as much time as I need to review each episodes on DVDs. The Decalogue One, "I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me" is a about a tragic accident. Against all the computer calculation and precaution before going on ice skating on the frozen lake, accident has befallen on the young Paweł. Daddy returns home to stare at the green glow of the screen of his trusted computer. Just yesterday it made the assurance on the ice strength. Now it displays a single message - "I am ready _" with a blinking cursor. The picture remains there silently. It is some of the most contemplative moment in the cinema.
I don't remember how I feel when I saw this the first time. The message is simple enough. It questions the primacy of science and structure in modern society and to reflect on the diminishing role of religion and spirituality.
Today I think I have resolved such conflict. It is a false dichotomy between science and religion. To me science is spiritual. The story implies a kind of scientific determinism. I think it is old school. Of course old school probably still describes the majority of people, both religious and non-religious. And also we have to take into account of Kieslowski's background working in the communist Poland in the 80s, where determinism is really the rule of the society and has far more relevance for him.
The flaw of Decalogue One is some may see it as an apology for scientists. Many people may simply conclude scientists are arrogant and ultimately hurt people. If so they are too affected by the accident. Kieslowski is a master to induce us into reflection of a moment. But we must not lose the bigger context to a single moment. Can religion or traditional knowledge make a better guideline regarding safety compare to science overall? I doubt it.
And this is only old school science. The "new" science of complexity sees the world as fundamentally nondeterministic. Many events are unpredictable. Accidents do happens. But this does not mean scientific prediction are not useful. They are useful in plenty of ways. The problem is those people who expect 100% certainty are not realistic of their expectation.
In the middle of the film the father was giving a lecture on language. Unlike other old school point of view, this lecture on the relationship of language and intelligence resonates deeply to me. He laments that computers, a machine that operates on 0 and 1, can somehow displays awareness. He was talking about emergence! It strikes me that human, an organism makes up of simple molecules and a lot of H2O can display awareness. So a man made machine, despite its seeming simple logic structure, can conceivably display a consciousness on a high level someday by the similar principle.
I don't have a conflict between science and spirituality. Science is my new religion. This is of course the topic of another 100 blog posts.
2010.06.14 comments -