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STOIC POETRY | Ad Aster and The Great Indifference

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Yumiko and I watched a movie last night called Ad Aster, starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. We enjoyed the film, which is a science fiction tale of a man from earth gone in search of his father who may be threatening the earth from orbit around the planet Neptune. The movie has a dark theme to it, of a man who is something less of himself, going alone into the dark in search of doing right. Along the way, he commits offenses which should only deepen the distance between himself and the humanity he has left behind, increasing the tension and potential to break whatever thin string of connection he maintains with "home".

I was struck by the similarity between this movie and another movie, Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola, and, by extension the book Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad; as all three stories are tales of a man going deep into nature to encounter savagery and the risk of being consumed both inwardly and outwardly by the emptiness which will not be filled.

Alone, the character portrayed by Brad Pitt arrives at Neptune to encounter his father who has been consumed by the perceived emptiness of the universe and seemingly driven mad by the his sense of the thing which I which I call "The Great Indifference". The movie ends with the father being destroyed by what he has not "seen" while the son, having perceived the same empty through the eyes of his father, chooses instead to live and struggle over three billion miles back to earth, to his home, and his species, and his people and the woman who still loves him.

In the movie's final scene, Brad Pitt stands before the camera and recites, in a calm and collected voice, his objectives for the well-lived life - The Good Life - which he plans to live from that day forward.

The similarities in theme behind the story of Ad Aster and the tale I've told in my own book Going Alone are striking, and quite interesting - and I came away from the experience of this movie further convinced that I am not alone in my perception of a universe chock full of empty, without apparent meaning; and that this is also a place where meaning may be forged from experience, perception, and reasoned consideration of the facts of what we are, and where we live, and how best to make tomorrow a good day, and better one than today.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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