Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Best (And Only Real) Explanation For How Humans Ended Up Being Alive And Running A Planet.

All this has been written before. And it will all be written again. Provided that someone makes a show like this again and I happen to see it...

I thought I would start this nomination off in a more literary manner, hoping to gain a little credibility by piggy-backing on the shoulders of a more respected writer. After all, how can half-thought-out literary references that make no real sense, in the context of whatever else you're doing, not make things seem a little better and more weighty.


Let me try this, then:

Are you not liter-tained?

Still nothing? Well, I'm sure I'll come up with something to prove to you that this is a weighty, thoughtful, symbolic literary enterprise, and not some throwaway crap that I more or less copied from some memories I had of books I read back in high school. And, if I'm lucky, I will also remember that for a couple of years now, I've been calling one of my characters a harbinger of death, and I will therefore make sure that comes true instead of, you know, forgetting about it along the way.

Since the dawn of time, men have speculated about how we got here, whether we were put here or evolved or both, whether we are alone in the universe, whether we are the pinnacle of creation and master of everything, or whether we are instead just one among many. I say men because women have not, to my knowledge, speculated about that. Women have been busy promulgating the myth that they (women) don't care about physical appearance while simultaneously writing odes to Tom Brady's butt, leaving all the important thinking (and the Disney-movie-quoting, and the crappy-let's-hope-it's-a-tribute-and-not-plagiarism-ending-to-series'-writing) to men.

And men have come up with a couple of theories in that time, theories which can be boiled down to these:

1. Men were put here by God, who created them in his image and then created women, who, when not trying to convince Adam that they "really didn't care about physical appearance" spent their time eating apples and getting men kicked out of Eden.

2. Men evolved from... um... absolute nothingness. Or rocks, maybe. Yes, something like that: the universe suddenly came into existence but wasn't created or anything like that, so shut up! and then stars formed and created elements and then the elements combined into rocks that in a one-in-a-mochazillion chance happened to break down into amino acids that then recombined into life forms that grew increasingly complex, and it all happened more or less by accident.

3. We were all vomited up by a god who suffered from indigestion. (Really!)

4. We were all made from ashes by gods whothemselves were the products of a cow eating a popsicle, only women weren't ash, they were made out of vines. (Really!)


5. Mankind was taught the art of surfing by Kamohoali'i, the Shark God of Hawaii.

I know that last one didn't, technically, deal with the subject of how man (and women) got here, but isn't it kind of cool to imagine the Shark God teaching a girl how to surf, and a parent letting him do that? Nowadays, the Shark God would be sitting and talking to Chris Hanson.

Chris Hanson: Why don't you have a seat, Mr. Shark God.

Kamohoali'i: I was really here just to teach Hi'iaka'i- ka-poli-o-Pele how to surf.

Chris: Uh-huh. Just have a seat. I have some printouts of your chats with Hi'iaka'i- ka-poli-o-Pele.

Kamohoali'i: Did Lohi'au put you up to this? That guy's always been jealous of me ever since he was engulfed in flames. I wish Pele had just left him dead. Besides, I'm in love with Hopoe.

Chris: Isn't she a stone statue?

Kamohaoli'i: To each his own, man.

But of all the creation myths, and surfing-lesson myths, that mankind has ever devised, only one appears to be the correct one, and by "correct" I mean "it must be so true that Battlestar Galactica couldn't help sort of copying it because otherwise it looks a lot like maybe they just sort of plagiarized it," and I have no desire to accuse the Battlestar Galactica writers of plagiarizing someone, because we all know what plagiarism leads to:

Law school.

At least it does if you are Kaavya Viswanathan, who cut-and-pasted "her" "novel" into a $500,000 advance and a movie deal only to get caught.

Not that I'm saying that the Battlestar Galactica writers plagiarized anything; let me emphasize that: Battlestar writers, I'm not saying you plagiarized anything.

I'm saying you simply reported the truth.

That's what I've concluded: the Battlestar Galactica TV series ended the way it did because the writers wanted to show people the actual, true, real explanation for how humans ended up being alive and running a planet.

So all you other creation myths, you've been exposed as the fictional pieces of work that you are. Yes, even the one that posits that life was created when the world pushed its parents apart, causing Dad to cry. All fake.

Myths about how mankind learned to surf: still true.

If you didn't watch the ending to Battlestar Galactica, then allow me to get you caught up: After a couple of years of wandering in space looking for "Earth," with repeated references to Kara "Starbuck" Thrace being a harbinger of death, Battlestar wrapped things up on Friday, March 20, with a doubly-long episode that was not in any way padded out at all. And I would give you a [SPOILER ALERT!] except that the storyline is not SPOIL-ABLE because it is true, so don't worry about having it spoiled for you.

The double-episode began with a first hour devoted, primarily, to demonstrating just how awful the "Bad"Cylons are at fighting: roughly 100 humans and some Cylon allies, piloting a damaged and woefully-understaffed Battlestar, are able to teleport directly next to the Cylon base colony, ram their ship into it, and then walk into the Colony and back out in about 8 minutes (not counting commercials) while firing more or less three bullets. Total.

The subplot to that first half of the episode was this: Yeah, well humans are equally bad at fighting, a subplot that was demonstrated by having the humans find the little girl they were there to rescue...

... and let me note that in the end, the entire rescue mission turns out to be entirely unnecessary.




...and after they find the little girl, getting her back onto the Battlestar, only to find that somehow the Cylons have walked onto the bridge of the Battlestar... and gotten there first.

It's important to keep in mind that the writers had a character on the Battlestar command that the blast doors be closed. So those Cylons that stormed the Battlestar did that by going through the closed blast doors.

Then there is, of course, a big fight prompted by one of the Final Five Cylons killing one of the other Final Five cylons and losing the secret to resurrection -- a secret that the Final Five were going to give to the Bad Cylons to help settle the war, a secret that apparently only all five of them could tell, even the brain-damaged one that was living in a bathtub on the bridge of a spaceship (remember that; it's important) even though one of the Final Five -- Ellen The Cylon-- apparently knew it all herself, too.

I realize this is getting a little complicated and is only really able to be followed by those of you who, like me, sat there Friday night slowly realizing that you'd wasted an hour every Friday night for about three years, and took some small consolation in the fact, at least, that you were right when you said they'd wreck it. So I won't dwell on it. If you watched Battlestar, then you know I'm right about all of this. If you didn't, well, then, you're among the lucky.

Anyway, on to the second part, the part that revealed the truth of The Best (And Only Real) Explanation For How Humans Ended Up Being Alive And Running A Planet.

Here's what happened: After the humans waltzed onto the Cylon ship and the Cylons waltzed onto the human ship, a bunch of cylons have been killed and the Battlestar is under attack from a Raptor that's sort of floating in space, carrying nuclear weapons (even though a character earlier in the episode said that nukes wouldn't be usable in this fight) and Starbuck has to punch in a code to warp them out of there using the FTL (Faster Than Light) drive which apparently works like a teleporter, given that it's activated when the Battlestar is pointing right at the Cylon ship, so if it just accelerated to light speed it would simply ram the Cylon ship...

... stick with me, here, I'm getting to the point...

... and Starbuck punches in numbers that she randomly assigned to musical notes to a song that her father taught her when she was a kid, the same song that "activates" Cylons, and the same song that was written down by the little girl they were there to


rescue, at which point the Battlestar teleports to...

... Earth.

But not "Earth" the planet that the Cylons were originally from; instead, this is just some random planet that the Battlestar humans and some Cylons decide to name Earth because, well, I don't know why. But they do: they name it Earth and it is, as it turns out, our Earth, with an Africa and all, so, hey, what're the odds of that, and now they're going to settle down on Earth, and as it turns out, there are aboriginal people living on Earth, too, and then, as it turns out, all the survivors opt not to use any of their advanced technology and instead want to go walkabout, living on "Earth" by their wits and stuff.

And... fade out. But not yet: first, flash ahead 150,000 years and show ghosts of Baltar and Number Six commenting on "Lucy," the hominid that's presumed by scientists to be the ancestor of modern humans, and who, we are led to believe, is the little girl who the Battlestar fight was there to save.

Whew. Got all that?

Also, Starbuck disappears and is probably an angel.

Okay, so I'm not going to get into why it was completely unnecessary to rescue the little girl, other than to say that if Starbuck knew the Numbers Song from her childhood, she could have at any point programmed it in and taken them there, and in fact gotten them there without having to risk a bunch of people's lives, and probably gotten them there earlier, too.

Nor will I get into anything about how people in the 150,000-years-in-the-future Earth were pretty clearly not solely descended from that little girl, given that about 38,000 Battlestarian humans landed on "Earth," while only four Cylons did so, and two of those four were in their 70s, and one of those four went off to live in Iceland or something by himself.

I even will not mention any further the repeated references to Disney's Peter Pan beyond pointing out that it appears the writers were trying to make a literary reference with the several-times-over-use of "All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again," or variations of that phrase. The phrase doesn't actually appear in James Barrie's book, to my mind; instead, it's the opening line to Disney's movie about the boy who wouldn't grow up, and is quoted to try to show the "cyclical nature of time," according to the show's producers. So I won't bring up whether it makes, in the context of a space opera building on religious themes and making pointed references to current politics, any sense to make references to movies based on literary works about the whimsy of youth and the way that adult lives tend to crush that out.

And I won't dwell on the fact that in the end, the harbinger of death turned out to be the one who saved all of humanity and the remainder of the Cylons by finding them the needle-in-a-haystack that is "Earth." Whatever death Starbuck harbinged (it's probably a verb!), nobody saw.

I won't dwell on all of that because I'm overwhelmed by the greater purpose of the final episode, which obviously had to drop some plot points and take some creative hints to, as I said, point out the real truth of The Best (And Only Real) Explanation For How Humans Ended Up Being Alive And Running A Planet, and that truth is not that humans were people who somehow existed in a world that was constantly eaten by a pulled-apart monster. No, the truth is that humans were the result of people from another planet accidentally arriving at Earth via a spaceship piloted by a man in a bathtub, and then displacing the aborigines that were here to become the "humans" we know.

That's the truth. Pure and simple. That's it. That's how we got here. It has to be -- because if that was not the truth, how else would two separate people have come up with exactly the same story?

You see, I am a reader of mystical texts and ancient works, and that is how I am familiar with the fact that this particular Creation story -- not a myth, because it's true, as evidenced by the fact that two separate people came up with it without knowing of the other one -- has been told before.

All this has been written before. And it will all be written again.

That's liter-tainment.

Let's call it the Bathtub Spaceship Creation Myth.

The Bathtub Spaceship Creation Myth was just dramatized on Battlestar Galactica. Remember when I said to remember that there was a brain-damaged guy on a spaceship bridge? That was important, and it was also true: As a part of the final episode, one of the Cylons was put in a bathtub on the bridge of the Battlestar, where he helped pilot the ship by being wired into the central command unit. So, in a nutshell, here is what Battlestar Galactica posits as the Bathtub Spaceship Creation Myth:

A bunch of people adrift in space on a ship piloted by a guy in a bathtub end up on Earth and displace the aborigines that were already there, becoming the progen
itors of the entire human race.

And here is how I know that is the One True Creation Story: Because someone else, independently, ages ago, told that exact same story as an Explanati
on For How Humans Ended Up Being Alive And Running A Planet.

So it's either true, or it's copying, right? And remember, Battlestar writers -- and your lawyers-- I'm not saying it's copying. I'm saying it's true.

The ancient texts I read had this to say, more or less:

Two guys one day stole a spaceship and had to teleport out of it. Because of problems with the teleporter, they had to randomly teleport somewhere in th
e universe. Their "random" teleportation lands them on a spaceship where they are taken to the bridge and meet the Captain. The Captain has spent the entire space cruise in a bathtub, on the bridge of a spaceship. The two guys talk with the captain for a while, at which point they learn that the fleet is made up of people who had to leave a planet because of a terrible cataclysm or problem, and that they are going to set up a new civilization somewhere.

The Bathtub Spaceship eventually ends up on ... Earth, where the people have to rough it without their technology, and where they displace the aborigines who were living on Earth, to become the progenitors of the human race.

The two guys who witness all of this were not "Baltar" and "Number Six." They were, in the ancient text I read, named "Ford Prefect" and "Arthur Dent." The ancient text I read was The Restaurant at the End Of The Universe, by Douglas Adams, and it was published in 1980, and featured more or less that exact sequence that I just spelled out: the Bathtub Spaceship Creation Myth: people on Earth are the result of a spaceship of survivors piloted by a guy in a bathtub accidentally winding up here.

As Creation stories go, that theory is no more or less ridiculous than, say, the idea that we were created by a god that spontaneously hatched from an egg. (Where'd the egg come from, Ancient Egyptian scientists?) And it has the virtue of being the absolute truth, as shown by the fact that two totally independent people came up with it totally independently, 29 years apart, one first writing it into a hilarious and excellent space novel, and the other totally independently also writing it into... a television series-finale which effectively wrapped up all the loose... no? Well, then, a finale which put a satisfying cap on the... no, still? Fine: A television series-finale which fulfilled their contractual obligations, and which demonstrated that the Bathtub Spaceship Creation Story is The Best (And Only Real) Explanation For How Humans Ended Up Being Alive And Running A Planet.

All this has been written before. And it will all be written again. Unless people demand originality.

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In the future, everyone will eat squid jerky and the fate of the 73 dimensions will rest on the sexy shoulders of Rachel, the lesbian zombie who may just be trying to take over the world. Read Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!


Husbands Anonymous said...

Sheeeessssshhhh. You write very long posts, dude. I can't call them pithy, but they are good. And so many amusing links! I think I'm falling in love with you.
And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the picture of the babe sitting on the shark. Like Penthouse, only shark-ier.

lisapepin said...

Briane, darling, you know I love you, so it's with the utmost respect and adoration that I tell you that you need to dial down the "power geek" thing a notch or two. Seriously. I'm starting to fear that you'll be kidnapped by Scientologists any day now. And if they don't let you blog, what will I do for entertainment?

Sicko said...

I am a sucker for creative creation myths. I think you might have missed one important one though. I read that humanity was created by an advanced alien prematurely ejaculating into a petri-dish. Seems pretty plausible to me. Check it out