Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The lonely shopping cart

One scene that seems to appear in most post-apocalyptic movie or series is a scene where you see a single shopping cart standing in a parking lot. It seems to sum up the loneliness of the loss of much of civilization. It’s also a scene that preceded the zombie mob or other danger left in the world appearing.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, I’ve experience the scene in real life walking toward my job early morning Monday. It is peculiar to walk thought a shopping mall parking lot and see that lonely shopping cart alone, not a sound, no human to be seen. Suddenly, a soft moan rising from the distance. It was the highway, but still creepy and awesome in a way.


One of thing I realized recently annoys me in science fiction is the concept of post physicality. You know, the idea that a sufficiently advanced civilization reach a point in its “evolution”/ technological develloppement when it abandon the base needs of the physical to become something “better”. Usually, that means they become energy, or ascend to a higher plane of being. The first thing one would need to ask his how would becoming “energy” be removing yourself from the physical, energy is physical, yes not in the sense of “crude” matter but given e=mc2, one would argue there is no difference.

So that would leave the higher plane of being thing, sound like a religious concept, the “lucky” species is not in heaven like the god they have become. Leaving the universe behind apparently to greater things. With usually one of two results, they vanish from the universe never too be seen again or they withdraw from affair of mere mortal… except when they get involved for all the problem it can cause (see Stargate for an example of these alien). The first kind could be taught of as a mass suicide, no one ever sees them again and they never influence event.

Now what is annoying about it? Well it makes no real sense, there is no benefits for them as far as anyone can tell (even themselves if the Ancient from Stargate are an example) and it seems to exist only as homage to the belief of religions. It is an example of heaven that the good species can aspire to if they are nice and become one with the “spirit”. By itself it could make a good story, but it is so pervasive that it is becoming annoying, a sort of crutch or thing you have to include into your high civilization to make it “believable”. It is also a way to remove hyper advanced civilization from the scene and let humanity take a place in the stars. Sure it is “less” depressing than having them die off, or extinguish themselves to wars or plague or what have you. But it also remove the interesting story of having to deal with them, having to think, of how a specie that can accomplish everything.