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Men in Black 3

What it is that men who take responsibility for their countrymen have to face

You might laugh, but this story suggests baseball is a good way to begin to learn what makes us human. There is a creature here, utterly benign, which considers all possibilities within an ever-elusive reality. It barely distinguishes what really happens from everything that might happen. This creature that perceives being as mysterious potentiality is the god to which science aspires, having abandoned nature. Time & causality become problems, perhaps insoluble. Inability to predict the future should be humbling. But scientific power seems necessary to our survival.

The alien is shocked that the ‘69 Mets could win it all. We might be surprised, because they were a losing team. He is surprised because everything is essentially surprising. We might be flattered at the attention & call this a miracle–but then we believe that things come into being for a reason, that we have a purpose. The possible states of the universe are indifferent to our well-being, so it would seem that political freedom, the opinion that we can learn what is good for us & act on it, is an illusion.

Baseball shows us men who make every effort to succeed, to make something irrational into something rational. This points us to heroes who insist on taking chances, unparalyzed by sheer potentiality. The other image of American heroism the story offers is less funny: the moon landing.

Surprisingly, the story suggests manliness is essentially defensive. Heroes fight for causes & they see themselves as the cause of their victory. Their self-importance is the defense of the human being as such. The daring & scientific power of the Apollo missions is here seen only as a way to defend ourselves. Manliness can never abandon home, it would seem. Human beings find it difficult to understand causes which are not their causes.

This defense is the ugly side of manliness. The young, humorous man wanted to know why his elder frowns all the time. He learns in the end. The price of manliness, of defending the human being, is death. The youth had never considered his mortality, so going back in time turns out to be necessary for him to be able to face the end of all human things. Men as men are aware of the precariousness of human beings. This hardens them for what’s needful–ultimately, what matters is what is worth dying for.

This alien god of science persuades a man to sacrifice his life for the good of mankind. I believe this is a consequence of treating science as a man, a particular kind of human being, & an individual human being. Without this restraint, science might help monsters to destroy the human beings. Without science, how face up to the universe?