Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Cosmology and our View of the World


Reflections on Bernt Capra's Movie "MindWalk"

by: Zeb Wright


Mindwalk is one of my favorite films (I own it). It identifies what I have been arguing about, a crisis in perception. Every time I watch it I find something that I haven't seen before. This time I noticed that the personal relationships of the characters portrayed an interdependency throughout the film. I was told when I first saw this film that Jack the politician is based on Al Gore, while the other two may or may not be based from real figures. More important is the role that each character plays; the politician, the poet, the scientist. All three have a different perspective, yet they are trying to describe the same thing. It reminds me of the trial of Socrates where he recalls in his defense the knowledge of the politicians, the poets, and the craftsmen (scientists):

"each of them, because of his success at his craft, thought himself very wise in other most important pursuits, and this error of theirs overshadowed the wisdom they had".

It seems that wisdom is a two-sided coin, one side knowledge, the other side ignorance. In the film, the two sides are revealed as the wisdom and ignorance of each character plays out. What ensues is the closest thing to the truth that they can muster, but still it is evident that their ignorance is equal to their knowledge. Each one struggles throughout the film to break through their own perspective and see things in a new perspective. What we are left to believe is that the Mindwalk experience that they shared is a turning point, personally for themselves but also for what they represent.

One other thing that I would mention is that the film is heavily laden with science. Every anology that Sonya speaks of is based on real science. I always found that this made the film worth watching. Bernt Capra made the film but it was inspired by Fritjof Capra's "The Turning Point". So I thought that he did the film a great justice by contributing to the screenplay. I have not read "The Turning Point" but I did try to read "The Tao of Physics" a couple of years ago. I say try because just because I read the words does not mean that I understood what Fritjof was trying to say. However, what I did take from it was that Fritjof was trying to emerge perspectives. Science says something very concrete about force, mass, etc., but like we have come to understand in our group discussions, they are only models. We like to believe that these models are unfallible but that is not true. Our models are subjectively based on perspectives and history has revealed that our perspectives are often not integral with the universe. This is the point that I like to make; that everything comes from our perception of the cosmic story. The perceptions, the models, and even the turning points are inspired by the story. Anthropic reasoning, f=ma, even our religious models of God, are all models inspired by the story. I don't believe that this sentiment weakens the validity or integrity of any of our models. I believe that it only recognizes what the Capras and even Socrates were trying to reveal. That being that these models are the only way for us to know anything and therefore the symbolic nature of these models makes them just as, if not more, important. Wisdom is in the eye of the beholder, you could say.