Battlestar Galactica (BSG)

My blog must have a post dedicated to Battlestar Galactica.

I don’t know too many people who have seen this show. I never watched it while it was still on TV. I had no idea it had the potential to make such an impression on me. My co-worker, Stacy, and I finally decided to download all four seasons and watch it on our iPod Touches. Maybe watching it in this fashion offers a different experience than watching an episode on TV every week, with commercial breaks, re-runs, season breaks etc. Ours was certainly a very pure, very distilled experience. Perhaps watching it the way we did makes for more reflective moments.

The intelligence in the scripting of this show, the deeper philosophical and theosophical constructs never ceased to amaze me. The crafting of Battlestar Galactica was pure genius any way one decided to look at it.

The opening musical theme of every episode was the first thing to grab my attention. The accent, of course, was heavily anglicized but soon enough I had no doubt in my mind that it was the Gayatri Mantra set to music:

AUM BHOOR BHUWAH SWAHA,
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASAYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYAT

The use of this mantra, the one chant that I never leave home without, at the beginning of each episode signalled to me that the creator of the show, Ron Moore was a rather impressive theosophist. I couldn’t resist pointing this out to my friends who were finding every Judeo-Christian construct addressed in the plotlines. They are there, no doubt, but the view is much broader, much more all-encompassing than would seem at first glance.

The essence of Hinduism (which of course originated Buddhism and one or two other religions) for me is the one God philosophy, the other ‘gods’ are merely aspects or manifestations or over-simplifications to help along the faithful. The one Hindu God embodies a holy trinity of creation, preservation and destruction. All those things are clearly represented over the entire BSG story line. The motifs of eternal recurrence, building, thesis/antithesis, total destruction and building again are worked into the script in a seamless fashion.

The most impressively written character was that of Gaius Baltar. Stacy called him despicable. It is easy to do that when he comes across as a mere character on screen, a dramatis persona. But what the creators have really done is make us face a mirror, if not as a person, then as a global society. The pursuit of self-interest, above all else, is encouraged in many societies and is actually downgraded to a hidden, not so obvious motive in countries/societies where such pursuit is deemed evil (think China, old USSR). What is trickle-down economics, the profit motive above all else, the current financial and economic crisis in which we all find ourselves? It is nothing but a huge Gaius Baltar, all rolled up in one character we find easy to despise.

The kinds of beneficial things that end up happening, as a result of his self-preservation – cancer treatment for President Laura, the detection and imprisonment of Cylon#5 (after a hint from Head 6), his handing over the number from drawn lots when desperate Caprica survivors were trying to board Helo and Boomer’s plane – when he could have kept the # for himself – all these actions are incidental and not intentional, usually (his praying for the sick child seemed somewhat genuine). But yes, there are helpful things he ends up doing, if only as beneficial side-effects, while he plots self preservation.

That is indeed how a society such as ours – driven by self-interest – preserved and protected by political conservatives – usually behaves. We are Gaius Baltar! (Ok maybe not all of us – it’s a huge generalization 🙂 )

The treatment of technology – lots could be said here as well. What scares me, on the show, and in reality, is that the sky is the limit for what mankind can achieve. We can whittle away at every mystery there exists and keep knocking them out, things that are mysteries today, won’t be so in a decade and so on. That’s our human programming, whether one calls it intelligent design or evolution. The problem is that one thing that is not programmed into us is a collective memory of history, a healthy appreciation of the irrationality of war and an utter lack of foresight. We don’t have what it takes to analyze the long term consequences of our actions.

There was a report in the news yesterday about how Moscow researchers have figured out a way to blast snow clouds out of their airspace – by spraying them with some nitrous chemicals (don’t recall the science). So yes, we are capable of messing with our clouds. My initial response was, of course, “Yay, no more snow!” But the euphoria didn’t last long as I had this sudden knot of fear emerge – “no one is thinking of what this would do ten or twenty years down the line”.

We are programmed to shoot ourselves in the foot and to keep repeating it until a repetition in this cosmic statistical model becomes improbable.

1 Comment

  1. i need to watch me some BG too.


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