Saturday, November 28, 2015

When Art Speaks True: SPECTRE (Again)

Following from yesterday's post, which is here if you missed it, I'm going to talk about SPECTRE as a work of art.

The power of art is the power to communicate ideas in both Dialectical and Rhetorical fashions simultaneously across generations, even eons, so long as the work endures. This power allows for the accumulation of inter-generational interaction between the past and the present, creating conversations via present review and response to past participation. This is the basis for the "Great Books" concept, which is still superior--far superior--to any extant pedagogical paradigm in education, which is itself an application of the Trivium Method.

Art that endures across the ages is art that communicates ideas that are true in a proper, universal sense. We still read, study, and enjoy Greek and Roman art of all sorts. In addition to being an enduring link to the past, and thus maintenance of a continuity that enables Civilization to prosper, such enduring art endures because it shows us things that are true (and therefore relevant) to us here and now. This is the power of the idea, but moreso the power of a true idea--a principle--because it is provably real.

So, SPECTRE. Here it is then:
  • Human relationships matter most. This is both relevant to tradecraft ("Human Intelligence"), and in general; the reason Bond's rogue actions end up saving MI-6 and the 00 program is because Bond proves that its principles work. Cybernetic means are, when used properly, nothing more than various augmentations to the core strength of direct human connection via one-to-one relationships. Even the villains wholly accept this principle, as it is the basis for their organization.
  • True success, and true wealth, comes when Man conforms to the principles that govern all existence. When men are men, women are women, and all act for the common good (which is where "commonwealth" comes from) everyone benefits despite the costs incurred in doing so. The more one deviates from the universal principles that govern all existence, the more you get the Dark Side effect: apparent easy success that proves self-defeating, in the manner that drug addiction destroys those that it afflicts. This we see in Bond's success coming from embracing this truth when Madelline challenges him to do so, while the villain's apparent success leads to his downfall when he's shown to abuse and refuse it.
  • The use of force is not wrong when done for the right reasons. It is right and proper to use force--including lethal force--when a predator attempts to prey upon you and yours, and that includes going into the predator's domain and destroy he and his. This is the Just War principle, and the film's events do touch on it via M when he talks to C about what a License To Kill means in practice, and called back in the final sequence twice.
  • Institutions are tools, machines specifically, and therefore only as effective as the user. When in the hands of incompetent users, they produce incompetent results. In malevolent hands, malevolent results. While tools are not truly neutral--following the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, they want to be used and will favor those who will use them most--they are utterly and totally amoral; before you blame the tool, address the user. Then address the tool. We see this, subtly, in that while opposing the Total Surveillance scheme of C, MI-6 has no problems using those same tools for their own ends- including legal tools of dubious ethical status, as shown when M arrests the villain at the end.
  • Human rules are only as good as their enforcement. A rule that is not enforced does not exist because it is not real. Only the principles that govern the universe are real, because they are self-enforcing. (Don't think so? Shoot yourself in the head with a Walther PPK in .380 ACP and see if you can go "Fuck Physics and Anatomy! Just rules! I do what I want!") This is why the formalism of institutions always gives way to the reality of human interactions and relationships when push comes to shove; until we replace all human employment with robots and software, this is how human society will really work.
Maybe I missed something. If so, I'll catch it when I watch it again some time down the road. You get the point nonetheless. Art isn't about feels; it's about reals. That so many don't grok this shows just how poor most educations really are now, and that is no accident; education populations are very hard to corral and control. Fortunately, the Internet exists and (for now) it's a place where nescience and ignorance is easily and readily remedied for those who wish to do so. Go forth, enjoy SPECTRE, and hope that the next Bond film is as good as this one was.

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