A comment appeared on the last entry from Tom, an old friend of mine from back in high school. He wrote about the relation of the past to the present and future and how as one gets older, while the past does not perhaps dominate one’s thinking, it’s harder as one gets older to think of the future without thinking of the past.
He recently sent me an email asking a question about Beowulf, an epic written in old English, that I had to read in college. Recently made into a bad movie by Robert Zemekis (what possessed him I don’t know).
I remember not liking Beowulf and wondering why the hell I had to read it. In general, the professors in what was called History of Civilization (western) kept going on and on about the past. I mean, sure, it was a history class, so what else was there to talk about, but they seemed to be making some larger point about the importance of the past to the present. I really didn’t get what they were talking about. Hell, I wanted to know about the present and most especially the future. But they did not seem to have any books to read that were written in the future. The big problem with the future, as I saw it, was that nobody had written it down yet.
I remember back then in college wishing I had some access to some future book that might tell me how things were going to turn out. That would have relieved some of my anxiety. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought well, maybe that was not a good idea. Knowing what was going to happen would pretty much take the surprise out of things; and being pretty pessimistic maybe I didn’t want to know either because I was pretty sure things were going to turn out real crappy—this being back when the idea that we were all going to be blown to bits by the A-bomb was still in the air.
Which got me to thinking about the movie, Sunshine. I rented it on CD because Jack Tingle who saw it on the big screen said it was a good movie. It was a good space movie. I think I can say without giving away the plot that the sun is going out and these people in a space ship go to the sun to drop a bomb in it to sort of relight it and save the whole human race. But as one might expect all sorts of bad things happen. One guy has to sacrifice his life for the sake of the mission. They show him there all frozen up and dead; and it feels sort of strange because this guy had sacrificed himself for the sake of the mission, and being dead like he was he would never have any idea at all whether the mission had been a success or not.
I am not sure the movie was about this point exactly. I am not sure what the movie was about, but at least it was about something. I mention it here to make the point that the future will forever remain the Greatest Story Never Told.