Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Back to the Future

When I got home today I turned on my TV and Back to the Future III was on. It was just ending and all of a sudden I hear Doc say, "...Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one..." I immediately thought of Oedipus and even One Hundred Years of Solitude. I realized this post could go on forever so I tried to compact my ideas into  the "categories" below so it wasn't too hard to follow.

While Doc's statement might be true for normal human beings like us, it is certainly false for Oedipus (and the citizens of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude)!! There is a strong sense of fatalism in both of these stories--the characters, from the beginning, are doomed. Neither Oedipus nor the Macondians had the free will to write their own lives, contradicting what Doc said. Melquiades predicted the future for Macondo in his manuscripts (everything he wrote came true) like the oracle at Delphi prophesied Oedipus's life. When Oedipus learns he is going to kill his father and sleep with his mother, he tries to avoid his fate just like Ursula tried to avoid the fate of the incest taboo. Let us not forget that Jocasta and Laius, too, tried to escape their fates and thwart their destinies. Neither character is able to escape their pre-determined lives and everything just comes full circle in the end and the prophecies are fulfilled. No matter what they try to do, it will, unfortunately, not matter. Oedipus's major downfall comes from him trying to gain more knowledge and learn the truth just as Jose Arcadio Buendia's destruction comes from his persistence to acquire more knowledge.

Oedipus complex:
In Back to the Future (the first one), Marty McFly travels to the past when his mother, Lorraine, was his age. Long story short, Marty's mom ends up becoming deeply infatuated with Marty, not knowing that he is her future son. (For those who have not seen the movie, this interaction interrupts the timeline and almost prevents Marty's birth because Lorraine fell in love with him instead of his father.) This reminded me of Jocasta and Oedipus. Oedipus, unlike Marty, did not initially know Jocasta was his mother when he married her. Jocasta, like Lorraine, had no idea Oedipus (in Lorraine's case, Marty) was her son at the time. There is a sense of dramatic irony in both cases. The viewer/reader is a little weirded out because he/she knows the actual relationship between both "couples." Had Marty not gotten mixed up with time travel so had he not tried to gain more knowledge, the idea of his existence not happening would not have been possible. And had Oedipus not been so determined to change his future, his story would not have ended the way it did.


Antonio Imbornone said...

I disagree with the idea that fate fate revokes if humans free will. God gave each and every human the ability to make their own decisions and actions. Free will. However god is indeed all knowing and does decide our fate. Just as my grandfather says, God has a plan for us. He does not play a role I. Choosing our own actions that lead us to our fate. Just as Oedipus' rash decision in trying to avoid his fate, leads him to his fate. His imperfect decision result in his horrible outcome. Yet God does know every action that he will make.

Abbey said...

I agree with the idea that God gave us the ability to make our own decisions and take our own actions, but we are in the real world and Oedipus and the people of Macondo (other than the characters actually based on real people) are not and the authors specifically wrote what they did to add a level of depth to their stories and make strong conceptual points. Your comment is getting too much into the controversial idea of whether our lives are determined by free will vs. fate/predestination, so I won't argue it because everyone has different beliefs.

On the other hand, while I never said in my post that fate revokes a human's free will, can you further explain how it doesn't (sorry, your post was a little bit too hard to follow)? (According to what you believe) God has a plan for both you and me and everyone else in the world, yes. If God's plan for you is to find a cure for cancer, for example, won't you take the necessary steps towards fulfilling that ultimate fate? You would devote your life to doing everything possible to find that cure, assuming you are okay with this fate (unlike Oedipus, who did not want to accept his fate and so he ran from it). So while you have decided yourself this is the life you want to live, your free will is kind of taken because you were told your destiny before you chose what you wanted to do and now you have changed your actions in order to achieve a certain outcome. And let's say you did not want to be the one to find a cure for cancer, so what happens? Instead of taking science classes in college, among many things, you avoid your fate and take a different path by enrolling in arts classes, if that was your thing. But God has a plan for all of us and now we have come full circle. It doesn't matter what you do because you're going to find the cure anyway so you don't have free will to decide a different path than the one that is already mapped out for you.