Reading an entry on Kallisti Press’ blog about Avatar, I now have a fully formed alternate interpretation of what we see in the movie Avatar.
I wouldn’t read more unless you saw the movie, because this is by definition, full of spoilers.
This post on Kallisti Press about Avatar got me thinking along its lines. (Go ahead and read it first).
What do we see in Avatar? Ostensibly technologically primitive aliens–who just happen to have biological USB cables that allow them to interface with a variety of other creatures on the planet.
A hippy dippy Gaiaesque religion of the natives–which just happens to be correct. Before Grace dies in her failed upload attempt, she says to Jake “I am with her”. Also, the end battle. “Eywa heard you!”
I said in my earlier review that this movie reminded me in some ways of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, except with a much more lush ecology and not one based on fungus. Continuing that thought, an alternative explanation of Pandora is as follows:
It’s a post singularity world! At some time in the past, a powerful intelligence arose on the planet and began reshaping it to its desires. Let’s call it Eywa. Life forms were resculpted, and designed to work together (those biological USB cables). The Na’vi, the post singularity descendants of the Eywa Makers, were also sculpted as well. A sustained ecology was put in place. Eywa herself became a biologically based superintelligence, living within the neural network of the entire planet as a whole.
She remains connected to the organisms on the planet via those biological USB cables,Uploading and downloading of memories and knowledge and “souls”…Eywa acts more like a sentient biologically based computer than an Earth Goddess.
I bet a lot of that computer runs on automatic, though. Paying attention to an entire planet is a difficult business. Even for a superintelligence, Eywa has a lot to manage and do. Probably not only the ecology, but I bet the climatology, hydro-geology and more are under her management and care.
Is it any wonder that it takes Jake *shouting* at her to finally get her attention and help? After all, consider the sense of scale. The humans are attacking one small portion of Pandora, and manage to destroy just one Hometree and threaten one Well of Souls There are certainly many more Hometrees throughout the planet (we see glimpses of other hometrees when Jake rallies the Na’vi).I think its naive to think there is just one Well of Souls, too. So all things considered, at this stage, until Jake gets her to care, Eywa doesn’t even notice.
It takes Jake’s shouting to get Eywa to turn her attentions from managing a planet to focusing her attentions on a small portion, where the humans technology is running rampant and intervene.
Now, I will bet that if the humans had managed to destroy the Well and continued their plunder of the planet, even without Jake, Eywa would eventually have taken notice before things had gotten completely under control. This brings up the late game Sid Meier Alpha Centauri scenario, when the fungus arises and starts trying to destroy your cities and units.
What Jake did, then, was accelerate this inevitable process. He wasn’t essential to the planet’s defense of itself and its creatures, but he (and possibly Grace’s upload) helped accelerate and focus Eywa’s attention on the problem.
I’m certain that this is not Cameron’s interpretation at all. But I like it and it makes sense given all that we see.