16 April 2015

Better Than Life

This post was inspired by a documentary on the life and works of Burl Ives, that I was listening to one morning this week. It featured the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain", a folk song about a homeless man's idea of paradise. In the original version of the song, there are lakes full of whisky and there are cigarette trees. Yep, doesn't sound like paradise to me, either.

Yet, we're all attracted to our own image of an idyllic paradise, aren't we? A place where everything is positive, harmonious and eternal. This sort of thing seems to echo throughout science fiction tales, too. Even Red Dwarf had an episode set in a computer simulation called "Better Than Life" - Lister's fantasy paradise involved curries and lager (typically!).

Star Trek featured the word Paradise in two of the classic episodes. "This Side Of Paradise" was a tale about a group of colonists who were being controlled by plant spores. A side effect was the removal of worry from their lives... all seemed perfect. But it wasn't. Hmmm - the use of a mind-altering substance to make life seem better. No thanks...

Also, "The Paradise Syndrome" depicted Kirk losing his memory in a particularly shocking encounter with an alien device and living an idyllic life as a member of the indigenous population - free from worry and strife. That's more like it. The lack of worry bit. Not the shocking :)

Then I remembered a scene in one of my favourite films, "A Matter of Life and Death"(1946).  Set in the afterlife, Richard Attenborough looks out over row after row of desks in a huge admin office and says "It's heaven, isn't it."

And there's the point. To some people, the thought of working as an administrator would be paradise.

So, what would be paradise for you?


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