Are we all friends of Harry Lime?

The other day I was thinking about one of my favorite movies, The Third Man, and in the movie Orson Wells (Harry Lime in the movie) takes his friend Holly (Joseph Cotton in the film) to the top of a Ferris wheel which stops briefly at the top so that Wells (a black market dealer in vaccines which he waters down for greater profit but disastrous results for the patients) can tell his friend how he can live with himself selling his lethal “medicine” on the black market. In a brilliant dialogue Wells explains that when you are on the ground you see all the people walking and can see them as people but as you climb higher and higher on the Ferris wheel they all begin to look like ants or like little dots. What does it really matter if one of those dots were to stop moving?
I was thinking of that dialogue the other day in regards to cyber bullying and how while social media claims to bring us closer together is it really just giving us a platform to distance ourselves from our cruel intentions. Does it allow us to live without being effected by our actions by allowing us to hit a send button without ever seeing or knowing the effect? Or are we now practicing a sort of social media carpet bombing by saying what we want and letting the dust settle where it may? And is that free wheeling lack of consideration for our actions such a bad thing….

Harry Lime

The following is a bit of the dialogue from Sir Carol Reeds, “The Third Man”
Do you know, I don’t ever feel comfortable on these sort of things…Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there… Would you feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you £20,000 for every dot that stopped – would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?…Free of Income Tax, old man…..free of Income Tax. It’s the only way to save money nowadays.

You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.


Lost in the Stars?

It has been with a strange fascination that I have been watching the developments in the disappearance of Malaysian airlines Flight MH370 While, of course it is a terrible tragedy, I have been strangely thrilled to see that in this day and age there is still a place for wonder in this modern society. Has all of our connectedness removed our ability to be amazed at the wonder of our world? Do we really think that we can track every movement in our world- and what does it mean when we cant know everything. Is our ultimate goal to be a sort of an omniscient God- all powerful as long as there is a place for us to plug in?

For a brilliant take on the role of wonder in our world check out Terry Gilliam’s 1988 film “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”.



All this senseless wisdom

While skylarking the other day my thoughts fell on the caduceus. You may remember the myth of the Greek God Hermes who found two snakes fighting and drove his staff between them separating them after which they twined themselves around his staff. The image has become a metaphor for the intersection of wisdom and knowledge and the need for both to be in balance. This made me think of Google books and its desire to scan and make available all the worlds printed information on the web, a sort of electronic Library of Alexandria. It makes me wonder if this is the perfect example of knowledge with no wisdom. So much information or content but how can we separate the valuable from the dross? Imagine a child having the knowledge of how to pull the trigger of a gun but not the wisdom to know when and when not to shoot? Are we heading that way as an in information society? Have we put such a value on the access to information that we end up degrading the information itself. Indeed all content is not created equal, does the avalanche of content blind us to its value in a whitewash of white papers obscuring the difference between valuable information and chaff?