Bruno Latour writes in “An attempt at writing a “Compositionist Manifesto”* Submitted to New Literary History, Bruno Latour, Sciences Po

In trying to pry open the mysterious planet Pandora in search of a mineral —known as unobtanium, no less!—, the Earthlings, just like in the classical myth, let loose all the ills of humanity: not only do they ravage the planet, destroy the great tree of life, kill the quasi Amazonian Indians who had lived in edenic harmony with her, they also become infected by their own macho ideology.

Outward destruction breeds inward destruction.

And again, like in the classical myth, hope is left at the bottom of Pandora’s box —I mean planet—because it lies deep in the forest, thoroughly hidden in the complex web of connections that the Navis nurture with their own Gaia, a biological and cultural network which only a small team of naturalists and anthropologists begin to explore.3

It is left to Jack, an outcast, a  marine with neither legs nor academic credentials to finally “get it”, yet at a price: the betrayal of his fellow mercenaries, a rather conventional love affair with a native and a magnificent transmigration of his original crippled body into his avatar thereby inverting the relationship between the original and the copy and giving a whole new dimension to what it means to “go native”…).

I take this film is to be the first script that doesn’t take ultimate catastrophe and destruction for granted —as so many have before— but opts for a much more interesting outcome: a new search for hope on condition that what it means to have a body, a mind, and a world is completely redefined. The lesson of the film, in my reading of it, is that modernized and modernizing humans are not physically, psychologically, scientifically and emotionally equipped to survive on their Planet.

Folks, we’re on to something here. But what? There never was Eden, and the noble savage is a myth. Was it a modern myth originating from a semi-conscious insight of the unsustainability of modernity? I can follow Latour’s argument that modernised man is poorly equipped to survive on this planet. However, turning the planet against us is the result of a pea brain ideology that is far older than modernity. Check the Bible.

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Communications and Media Senior Lecturer at SAE Byron Bay Australia

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