Arrival (& Circles)

One of the ideas that most captivated me from Plato’s Timaeus is that which denotes that the demiurge designed the universe as a sensible representation of eternity; the fact that the planets are round and that they travel perpetually in spheres represents this notion of the eternal. Plato writes, “And the creation of the universe conformed to the model of eternity, so as to be as similar to it as possible.”

Coincidentally, the day that we discussed this idea in class I saw the film, Arrival. The story follows Louise Banks, a Professor of Linguistics who is hired to communicate with extraterrestrials whose craft is stationed over the Montana plains. The aliens speak through circular symbols made of palindrome phrases. There is no beginning or end to each phrase, they represent ideas that are not constraint to earthly time. The aliens have come to earth to offer the gift of “eternal language” to humanity.

Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of Dr. Bank’s daughter Hannah, who dies of an incurable illness; this unfortunate event appears to have happened at the beginning of the story, but we come to find out at the end that Hannah dies after the film is finished. In other words, the film tries to capture the idea of the eternal: the events of the future affect us today, what we do today will impact tomorrow.

Dr. Banks, then, has known all along that in the future she will have a daughter who will die of an illness at a young age. Banks nonetheless decides to get married and give birth to Hannah. Why? Because as the story tries to teach us – life is worth living, even if it brings us pain and death. If we knew when someone we loved was going to die, wouldn’t we try to spend more time with that person? Wouldn’t we love more? Wouldn’t we try to make their last moments on earth more joyful?

If Plato was right in believing that the planets and the universe are shaped in circular form to represent the eternal, then to take a look at the majestic beauty of the solar system and the galaxies should make us contemplate more the Creator. He who exists outside of time entered time and space in the form of Man to offer humanity the greatest of gifts, eternal life in, by and through Jesus Christ. It is He who teaches us that life, though difficult and painful at times, is worth living.

“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it and I welcome every moment of it.” – Dr. Louis Banks 

Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker