Translating Fiction

ren-lin-sw-final-web5I see memes from my favorite science fiction from time to time. But the way it’s depicted seems less fictional. We tend to forget science fiction is more fiction than science.

I don’t think we need more science fiction in our lives, I think we need more science. I want to help with that. In this series, I want to look at excerpts from fiction and contrast it with facts.

While science fiction can be a good escape from reality, it’s not a good map for reality. We need to look at science for that. And when we start looking at science as much as science fiction, life will not be stranger than fiction…it’ll be better.

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

This is the “Litany Against Fear” from Frank Herbert’s DUNE. You’ll see it in used in memes now. But I think most people know as much about fear as they do the Bene Gesserit, a Gom Jabbar, the Kwisatch Hadderrach, and Spice.

I love DUNE but disagree. We must fear because fear is anything but a mind killer. Fear is both a mind and body “saver.” It protects us against the “big death.”

But, like most excerpts of science fiction (or any mythos), there are splinters of truth to be tweezed out. Fear can bring about the autonomic “freeze” response which can halt many other physiological processes. And there are definitely times to freeze…but that’s just one action.

When we’re scared, yes, we must face it, allow ourselves to experience it…in order to act upon it. Maybe we need to rethink the situation or act upon it…even fight.

“Allow yourself to feel fear and act appropriately towards what you fear.”

It’s not very poetic but it’s far more scientific.
“There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.”

This is the Jedi Code from the Space Opera, STAR WARS. I think the code is not meant to be taken as literally as an autistic such as myself would take it. My knee jerk critique would be: There is death, ignorance, passion, chaos, and death. Here’s a less literal interpretation and more scientific reframe I believe the code offers.

When I feel negatively emotional, I think of the action that leads me towards peace.
When I am ignorant, I seek knowledge.
When I am hyper-passionate, I look for serenity.
When there is too much chaos, I work towards order.
When there is death, I think of what precedes…and what proceeds.

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.”

If you recognize that, you’re as big a fan of Star Wars as I am. That is the Code of the Sith. It’s obviously fictional but is there any way we can make it more literal…so that it is more applicable?

Peace, like all things, is temporary…but so is passion.
Passion tells me where I will work to become stronger.
Strength gives me better leverage.
Leverage allows me to make a greater impact.
With a greater impact, I have more options.
With more options, I have more freedom.

Taking away the hyperbole and histrionics, I think this translation informs us as to the Sith’s desirability. And, in reality, who would we rather be: a cloistered ascetic with nothing but obligation or a conquering titan…with more freedom than anyone else? That is the power of the “dark side.”


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