Humor, Reviews

Arrival: The Operation Will Be Successful, But We Will All Die

In his pamphlet Les Soucoupes Volantes, le processus de la matiere et de l’energie, la science et le socialisme [Flying Saucers, the Process of Matter and Energy, Science and Socialism], the Argentine Trotskyist Juan Posadas wrote that “If they exist, we must call on them to intervene, to help us resolve the problems we have on Earth. The essential task is to suppress poverty, hunger, unemployment and war, to give everyone the means to live in dignity and to lay the bases for human fraternity.” If this film is any indication, it is safe to say that Posadas was wrong. If extra-terrestrials were to land, they would not be interested in solving the problems of our Earth. Those Illithidesque creatures would not be gifting humans their time-travelling ink language. They would likely exterminate us, and rightfully so. However, this would not impede the prospect of Communism.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which the film tells us proposes that the language we speak reflects or shapes the way we think, is derivative of an idea which originated with linguist and fire iron fencer Ludwig Wittgenstein, who said “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt” [“The limits of my language are the limits of my world”]. If the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis were true, then socialism would have occurred with the arrival of Esperanto as the language of the working class. This did not happen, and therefore we know it is empirically false. Esperanto, put forth by ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof, was the first attempt at a universal auxiliary language. It was a noble attempt, and he had the right idea, but he had no squiddy space knowledge or circular diagrams.

Who knew the reason Jacobi, Reinhold, Schulze, Fichte, Schelling, Schleiermacher, Maimon, and even Hegel¹ could not complete the system of German Idealism is because—despite wielding the most speculative language known to man—they all lacked the proper syntax of German Idealism? Certainly not the main character; if she had read Hegel, she might have known that the aliens did not give her a mere ‘weapon’ for time travel, but rather their annular language is the means to complete his system, for Absolute Idealism is the circle of circles.

In truth, we all know that if there is anyone we should send to meet unearthly beings, it is my own twice-removed theoretical uncle Slavoj Žižek, master of intercultural communication. When we meet someone new, he explains, we get closer and build a rapport by exchanging dirty jokes, which shows that we are not afraid to be open with the Other. I asked him to watch “Arrival” because it is always amusing to hear his take on popular Hollywood cinema. From our private conversation on Skype, which I forced him to use because he always tries to hang up on me when I call him on the ‘phone: “These aliens could take any shape because they are transcendental beings beyond space and time, yet they phenomenally appear as a projection of our own inner fantasies. Just like any fantasy, the tentacle monsters are just beyond our reach and never fully satisfy our desire. Thus, we substitute the objet petit a for being mindfucked by their language. Now fuck off. I have to go to the hospital and so on. I am dying, I claim.”

1. The master sorcerer who was spirited away in 1831. Many claim he has died, but I know he lives, biding his time in the topsy-turvy world, waiting for the aliens to arrive and help him complete the system.


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