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7 years ago  ::  Nov 23, 2011 - 1:32AM #1
Posts: 23
Actual science tends to inspire Science Fiction, but at the same time it is often Science Fiction which inspires the actual Science. Sometimes in our hasty judgments we forget to think of the long term, the power of having dreams, and the beauty of asking why not. We look at things with the cynical eye of the adult and forget the wonder that we had when inspired by the fictional. And well a bit of cynicism is good to have, we should remember to be objective and look at the facts which support the dreamers. Too often we forget it was those who asked why not which have created and brought us some of our most used and beloved items. And while nothing gets done by those just wishing for dreams to come true, it has been those who went out in search of turning fiction into reality that has reminded us that our dreams are worth following. 

Now, it is one thing to say this, since it backs what I have spent most of my life on. It is another to offer an analyse to the cynical eye. And yet the toughest part about proving the worth of fiction as a viable inspiration is finding a place to start and sorting out all the examples. In general we have organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A.) which have every specific projects we can look at. We have common devices like the cell phone and automatic doors which we find in science-fiction before their actual creation and use. We see the value of tall tales and fables to encourage accepted behavior. We see science fiction writers dream of ideas and we scientist make them reality and prove new inspiration for fictional writers create even more outlandish ideas. But lets get into some of these specifics, lets show why ideas based upon fiction (like the Jedi Path) aren't as silly as they may first appear. 

Star Trek alone can lend many examples of inspiring viable technology. As N.A.S.A. begins work on a tractor beam like device for it's probes and robots, we are reminded science can be capable of catching up with fiction. Any fan of the Trek that owns a Ford with Sync can tell you voice-operated computers aren't fiction. We see Uhura in the Original series using a device not much different then a bluetooth today. 1996 StarTAC flip phone? Well, again any Star Trek fan will tell you where that inspiration comes from. 

But Star Trek doesn't hold the market on science fiction becoming reality. 2001: A Space Odyessy, offered the newspad. A small device in which to flip through the virtual newspapers of Earth. Which we do see something similar in Star Trek: The Next Generation a tablet device used by crew members all the time. We can also look at robotics, the creation and evolution of robots alone speaks to how we can imagine something fantastical and still find a way to make it real. From exoskeletons to underwater habitats we can look around our world and see the future in our past fiction. 

It is this type of inspiration and reality that continues to support the dreamers. Yet it doesn't stop at technological advancements. Tales have been spun since the beginning of speech to encourage, inspire, guide, and warn. The Boy Who Cried Wolf, John Henry the folk hero, Aesop Fables, many tales out there with a moral to them. Yet should we use more real-life examples? Doesn't seem necessary, when the creativity can convey the meaning in a much more understandable sense. We continually use fictional means to support an idea or convey an appropriate behavior. Sure, movies and television these days can and have run in the wrong direction then simple stories with a message. Yet that does not mean all fiction, all modern media is worthless or not worthy of closer review. 

Stories like Star Wars inspire people to seek to be better. They ignite a dream of something more, of something beyond oneself, yet obtainable by the self as well. We see values being endorsed, encouraged, patience, discipline, things we would pas son to our own children. Yet should one say they are a Jedi? Truly it is no different then technology, it is no different then tall tales imparting their inspiration. Star Wars offered an idea that we are connected to the world, our actions affect the balance that exists, and we should seek to be calm, at peace. Which any Star Wars fans will tell you is enforced by physical fitness. You see an idea of bettering the self. Now this is hardly a claim only Jedi and/or Star Wars can make. George Lucas was influenced by many pre-existing ideals which help him develop the idea behind his mystical warriors. 

Yet there is something unique to the Jedi. And that is the combination not seen in many paths. Here we can look at the Jedi Path as another clear example of why not. And seeing a direction influences for the better. An encouragement of being better, being happy, of enjoying life, and being a part of the greater whole. Fiction can inspire and influence, but that doesn't mean it has to be negative or useless. The Jedi Path inspired by Star Wars has work on many real advancements in meditation, self-defense, and personal develop. Like the previous ideas and examples presented we can see that when told that something is not possible there is true power in asking why not? How is it not possible and what can be done to make it possible? This is what has lead us to many great inventions and helps us progress as a race. The Jedi is just one more example of fiction inspiring people to be something more, in a very real sense.
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 23, 2011 - 1:39PM #2
Posts: 81

It's interesting that HDF Kitto notes in The Greeks that for centuries much of the Ancient Greeks' education consisted of being versed in Homer: its themes and verse seen as bequeathing much of the intellectual and verbal substance a person needs for leading a virtuous life.

I agree that in many ways science-fiction is the new Homer or the new prophetic tradition, full of dreams to aspire to and even warnings on what pitfalls humankind may encounter while unfolding the full potential of itself while probing and trying to utilize through technology the mysterious forces of nature.  It tries to contemplate how humanity will extend its will, power and self-actualization as science grows: will Man become more like Luke Skywalker and the Quisatz Haderach or more like Darth Vader and the Borg, "more machine now than man"?

Science-fiction is like the Odyssey of the modern civilization: the search to get home (for us, the search to find a better life or to avoid a worse),  the encounters with friends along the way (amazing discoveries) and also with witches and monsters (analogous to the application of the new discoveries going terribly or fatally awry--the dystopic novels explore this).  The USS Enterprise symbolically as well as literally encounters the aspirations and darkest apprehensions of our race on its voyage, but all along the way, the excitement is in the voyage itself, the quest to discover everything, to find out something new everyday. 

"The candle that is set up in us shines bright enough for all our purposes." -John Locke
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7 years ago  ::  Nov 24, 2011 - 3:02AM #3
Posts: 23

Couldn't have said it better myself. Excellent thoughts Servetus. Thank you for that. 

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 4:14PM #4
Posts: 3,346

When Mr. Lucas incorporated Mr. Campbell's ideas into Star Wars, he expanded the scope of the saga.  No longer was the conflict limited to a fictional planet or location, to characters whose existence would end with the closing credits, but instead was now a microcosm of a truly universal duality.  While most people recognize elements from Tao and similar Eastern philosophy in Jedi precepts, few recognize more modern contributions to Jedi from Kant and Maslow. Those who do, however, are often intrigued by the opportunity to inlay classic and modern ethical commitment to their lives.

That which does not kill me, will try again and get nastier.
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