I've always been a passionate fan of science fiction. From my earliest days, I was captivated by the imaginative tales spun by literary giants like Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. As a teenager, I savoured the writings of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Throughout my university years, I devoured the epic narratives crafted by Frank Herbert and Philip K. Dick. After graduate school, I immersed myself in the cyberpunk worlds created by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, David Brin, and Neal Stephenson. Many of these incredible authors' works reached the big screen. I was equally engrossed in the movies and TV adaptations.
While I admit to finding the writings of Charlotte Bronte and Shakespeare less than thrilling during my academic years, the works of H.G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke never failed to ignite my imagination. Looking back, I wish my literature classes had introduced me to their remarkable writers.
Back in the 1970s, we had just one television station on the tiny Caribbean islands where I grew up. It aired syndicated shows from the 1960s for a brief hour or two each evening after the nightly news, usually around 6 PM. I was mesmerized by classic shows like Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Star Trek. During that precious daily broadcast, I often sacrificed my dinner to be glued to the TV screen.
My love affair with science fiction continued onto the big screen, where I fell head over heels for movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes (both the old and new versions), Dune (in its various incarnations), the Star Wars series, The Matrix series, Blade Runner, and The Terminator series. I can confidently say that there's hardly a well-known science fiction film I haven't watched at least once.
While I may not be religious, many of these movies and books contain characters and lines that have become integral to my personal philosophy, profoundly impacting my life. Science fiction often provides profound philosophical insights, exploring themes like existence, the nature of reality, human experience, and the balance between individual and collective needs.
When I saw this week's Lens Artist challenge, I was left scratching my head.
If you were to illustrate a favourite quote or poem, what would be your pick? Now you have the opportunity to do just that, and to use 1-4 pictures to make us ”feel” the poem or quote chosen.
How could I find images in my Adobe Lightroom catalogue that would illustrate my favourite science fiction quotes, especially when most of those quotes delve into complex philosophical concepts? I struggled to think of any that could be easily visualized as a photograph. I thought to myself, "This challenge is going to be quite a task."
I started by jotting down my favourite quotes, hoping they might spark some inspiration. I even used the DALL-E Hot Mods feature to visualize these quotes, wondering if that would be an acceptable way to meet the challenge. But something intriguing happened when I saw the results generated by DALL-E. The images it produced somehow jogged my memory of various photos tucked away in my Adobe Catalog. Within a few hours, I selected images that resonated with my chosen quotes.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion." ~ The Mentat Mantra from Frank Herbert’s Dune.
In Dune's vast and intricate universe, the role of a Mentat holds a notable significance. This profession emerged as a response to the Butlerian Jihad, which forbade the creation of thinking machines, leading humans to develop Mentats as a replacement. In the aftermath of the war, the guiding principle from the Orange Catholic Bible was clear: "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."
Sapho, derived from a tree's root, plays a pivotal role in a Mentat's life. Its consumption amplifies their formidable mental prowess, doubling or even tripling their processing capabilities. However, Sapho comes with a price – addiction, and the telltale stained lips serve as a stark reminder of its power over the human mind.
The Mentat mantra echoes the theme of unwavering determination and the incredible potential of the human mind. I often turn to this mantra when facing personal challenges, reminding myself of what I can endure through sheer willpower. And unlike Mentats, I can confidently say that Sensei John Kanabay doesn't need Sapho to tap into his mental strength.
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. ~ Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Frank Herbert created the Bene Gesserit in the expansive Dune universe, a powerful female religious sect within the Orange Catholic Church. When I delved into the pages of Dune, their invocation struck a chord, evoking memories of my high school days at St. Joseph's Academy in Antigua and Barbuda during the 1970s. At St. Joseph's, our motto was "Ne Timeas," a Latin phrase that translates to "Be not afraid" or "Do not fear."
One particular memory stands out. It was when Shaan was gearing up for the senior black belt test in martial arts. The greatest fear looming over her was the fear of failure. The test was gruelling, with martial arts instructors and senior black belts subjecting students to hours of physically demanding challenges. And then came the ultimate trial – the dreaded "chain of pain." In this final crucible, instructors and senior black belts would launch attacks, wave after wave of sparring that lasted agonisingly long. The black belt would be awarded only to those who could endure this intense physical and mental ordeal.
Shaan, visibly weary and on the brink of giving up, dreaded the impending chain of pain. We recited the Bene Gesserit litany during a brief water break in preparation for the formidable test. The words resonated within us as we chanted, and Shaan found the strength to persevere.
No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try. ~ Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
When Yoda imparts those wise words to Luke, it's a poignant reminder of the significance of commitment and the power of resolute action over wavering or half-hearted attempts.
After years of unwavering dedication, countless hours of after-school practice, and thorough preparation for the black belt trials, the ultimate test loomed for Shaan – the dreaded chain of pain. This was her moment to go all in, to summon every ounce of determination within her.
Facing the fear that gripped her and surrounded by her peers, Shaan stepped onto the mat with unwavering resolve. It was a gruelling challenge, but she gave it her all. And in the end, her efforts paid off – she earned her well-deserved black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
There is a profound truth in Yoda's words. When you commit wholeheartedly and act decisively, you can overcome even the most daunting obstacles.
Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure, also. Yes, failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. ~ Yoda, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Yoda emphasises the importance of learning from failure, recognising that setbacks and mistakes hold valuable lessons.
Earlier, I shared Shaan's triumphant journey in Tae Kwon Do. Kiran embarked on this martial arts adventure alongside Shaan. While they started together, their paths diverged when it came to advancement. After reaching the coveted black belt, Shaan chose to halt her journey, content with her achievements. But Kiran, fueled by a desire to teach, set her sights higher.
Kiran's determination was resolute as she tirelessly practised her forms day and night, confident about her upcoming test. However, on the testing day, things took an unexpected turn. Tears welled in her eyes as she faced the harsh reality of failure.
Kiran didn't give up. She seized the opportunity for a second chance. Several months later, she retested and was triumphant, proving that setbacks can be stepping stones to success.
NOTE: I attempted writing this post in a narrative style. I hope it works.