Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Zeitgeist weekend: Reviews and views of the films and movement

Zeitgeist (German pronunciation: [ˈtsaɪtɡaɪst]  ( listen)) is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." Zeitgeist is the general cultural,intellectualethicalspiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiancemorals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.

Peter Joseph, Writer/Composer/Director, Zeitgeist Films
But today, the word Zeitgeist is more commonly associated with a 2007 film by Peter Joseph that, in three parts, 1) Debunks all world religious theory and iconography down to simple mythology and compelling storytelling, 2) Illuminates the events of 911 and throws strong support for it being a staged event - and not by Osama bin Laden, and 3) explains the world monetary system is debilitating to society as a whole and advocates the dismantling of the FED in the United States.

And for that big plate of subject matter, I have one word for Mr. Joseph: 


The first film, Zeitgeist, has a total running time of  2 hours. The second, Zeitgeist Addendum, another 2 hours. And the third film in the series, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, clocks in at a hefty two hours and forty one minutes. With YouTube views in the high tens of millions for all three films, the one thing Internet success has not brought to Peter Joseph is a shortness of breath. But if he wants to get his message across, he'd better start distilling that message into more digestible chunks.

For this weekend I was most interested to see the third film - and having now seen all three, I can honestly say, in terms of content, the second film, can be easily passed on.

Zeitgeist: Moving forward is a captivating 90 minutes of thought provoking insight about our society and it's ills followed by a less than scintillating hour or so of a solution that substitutes money with science and technology and comes to a plausibly improbable conclusion - because the logistics and psychology shifts involved are simply mathematically impossible in short of thousands of years. With all due respect to Jacque Fresco, Industrial and Social Engineer, who at 94 is still full of life and passion, you're no Bucky Fuller :) (R. Buckminster Fuller was a Social Engineer as well, the designer of the geodesic dome and Professor Emeritus at my alma mater). But a mass-mutually agreeable conclusion aside, the film stills offers a great number of clear facts and good ideas.

The film begins with studies regarding genetics and the idea that people are born into society with diseases and psychological malfunctions that lead to crime, addictions and societal violence but settles more logically on the idea that we are all pure at birth but then formed by society - even from our time in the womb. There is a short discussion of adoption and how adopted people have an implicit or emotional memory of prenatal events that happened to the mother while they were just forming - though they had no real life experience to 'remember' with their birth-mother. I, of course, found that interesting. But the point was that people, in general, are not born bad. They can be born with tendencies, but they are not predisposed by any genetic or psychological coding to replicate society's ills. Those traits are learned.

So the question the film asks at this point, is, "How can we create a better environment for our children to grow up in?" Because, God knows, we're not going to see this shit fixed in our lifetime.

The idea of a Resource Based Economy (RBE) is introduced - one where the amount of resources the world can produced is measured and appropriated exactly with what society needs. A needs based method as opposed to market based one. In the film scientists claim that there is no shortage at all of world resources (ie. food, water, shelter, minerals, etc.) but that 1/3rd of the planet is starving because of market-based distribution methods and governmental meddling. If the American military budget could be diverted to solving world hunger, it would be a thing of the past in a number of years, the film argues. And that's a valid point. But how do we make that happen?

In the end, the film comes to ground with the idea that a very small money cartel controls the tides of all human affairs and perpetuates the ills of society (wars, famine, crime, drugs, etc.) because it's profitable. If everyone were happy, Utopian, pastoral and well educated, there'd be no money to be made. And technology or science is ever going to change that? Not if the money cartel has the ability to simply buy and suppress that technology (wind/solar) in favour of the technologies they own (oil/fossil). A societal Catch 22.

But what Zeitgeist does best is to raise questions and make us think and discuss. And I think it does that across generations if not quite yet across cultures.

Somehow, in explaining to my son (no, I don't have one yet) about historical events, I'd rather explain that the President was killed by a very complicated set of reasons, rather than a lone gunman in the Texas Book Depository. I'd rather have him see all the conspiracy videos on 911 and whatever since and make his own judgement. I'd like to teach him when not to engage his suspension of disbelief. Not in many generations (barring a cataclysmic disaster) will the money class be abolished - but if the sheep just change one little bit of behavior for the positive, one little bit at a time, over and over again - maybe the ruling class won't notice and things will improve. Over time.

Watch the film. It's thought provoking.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.