A reader writes:

You wrote about your enjoyment of Avatar:

"Or I really am becoming a goddamn hippie after all these years."

Finally, you begin to understand.

We have been working on you for years. Hard work.

We thought about just shooting you, but -- like Jake Sully --  you have a strong heart: Eywa said to save you. And perhaps for the same reason Jake was saved.

I used to live in Portland, Oregon -- home to so many fine old hippies, including the famous science fiction/fantasy writer Ursula K. le Guin. About science fiction, she wrote:

"At this point, realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence… The way to see how beautiful the earth is, is to see it as the moon."

-- or in the case of Avatar, a moon in a far distant solar system, in a far distant future. The point being that the distancing of science fiction -- in space, time and imagination -- is necessary in order to actually see the here and now, which is the real goal.

Conor is right -- Cameron is not commenting on American Indians, he's "allowing humanity to reflect on its circumstances and fallen nature in a novel way." Avatar is a better movie than the critics think. 

Btw, these labels -- human and Na-vi, liberal and conservative, atheist and theist -- these are a fool's game, children squabbling over imaginary sandcastles. Take these quotes, all by the same author -- are they "liberal" or "conservative"?

"If one believes that words are acts, as I do, then one must hold writers responsible for what their words do."

"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next."

They are all -- surprise! -- by Ursula K. le Guin. I would call them all conservative (using the Sullivan conservative standard). But I can tell you, without doubt, that le Guin never voted for Bush. She would be considered the most radical of "liberals" by non-Sullivanic conservatives. 

The labels are all hogwash. There's something else, that transcends these silly labels, that waits to be discovered. 

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