Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dr. Zaius and Astronaut Taylor: Contrasting Tragedies

Dr. Zaius and his anxiety for orthodoxy:  Dr. Zaius maintains the Platonic tragedy/the noble lie (a la The Republic) necessary to sustain society and civilization, which, broadly, must privilege orthodoxy and political expediency over Truth. Another Platonic data point: what happens to Socrates--call it "The Tragedy of Socrates"--which is a story examining the perils of publicly and earnestly pursuing "Truth".  Zaius does what he needs to do to preserve the status quo, which he equates (and not unreasonably) with civilization. Meanwhile, Astronaut Taylor follows the trajectory of an Oedipal tragedy--not the Freudian stuff, but the tragedy that ensues when Oedipus fearlessly and relentlessly inquires into the nature of things. Taylor's criticisms of "things back on Earth" early in the film, expressed as the astronauts are wandering through the Forbidden Zone, are telling.

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