Owl Opinions

The Faust Complex of the Privileged

I watched Oppenheimer. I had never heard of him before but I knew very well about the atomic bombs – we all did. When this movie directed by Christopher Nolan – who is considered a master of his art – was released it spoke of the ‘father of the atomic bomb’. And hence my curiosity was piqued – a bit more with Cillian Murphy apparently eating an almond a day to fit into the role. Why this penance?

Anyhow I watched it – 3 hours long. It was almost a flashback to my reading of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Doctor Faustus is possibly the catchphrase for all men of superior intellect who wish to explore the unexplored and push the boundaries of knowledge and science as it were. Faustus sells his soul to the devil as he is bored with all his accomplishments and wishes to have more power and knowledge. Sounds familiar? For me, Oppenheimer rang a good, close bell.

The movie sticks to the original story – a brilliant physicist who, knowing the possibilities of the fission reaction and its implications, pursues this in a bid to explore the unknown possibilities of atomic energy while providing a weapon against the Germans and later Japan. What hit me was how Oppenheimer in the movie is given the possibility that fission won’t stop – it will continue and hence they were not even sure whether one explosion would end there. Imagine experimenting with this knowledge?

The talk about it being a brilliant mind that is conflicted sounds rather lame when you consider the repercussions of the atomic bomb. If Oppenheimer truly believed that unleashing a bomb of that magnitude would help the world police atomic energy and prevent its continuation – he was more naïve than a child. A glance at global politics would tell anyone that the race to be supreme knows no ethics or bounds. Sure, NATO was formed post world war, but that has not stopped the threat or the proliferation of nuclear weapons. What an absurdly naïve stance to assume that even the US government would stop at one.

The ability to have a movie focus on the so called brilliance of a conflicted mind shows how much the privileged of the world love justifying their Faustian feats at the expense of the common man. Perhaps Oppenheimer realised his mistake but there isn’t much remorse that one sees. It is instead a focus on a triumph of intellect in a quest for sophisticated weaponry. Perhaps Nolan should explore the conflicted minds of those who were affected by the atomic bombs – Hiroshima and Nagasaki had long term repercussions from the impact, especially psychologically.

The irreverence for life of common people is an accusation often hurled at the power centres of privilege for whom a 100 or a 1000 unknown names mean nothing. This apathy is universal but to have it justified via intellectual and psychological grandstanding is truly remarkable.

Take a bow Mephistopheles, Faust is following orders.


Meet Lilanka
“what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
An eclectic personality with a penchant for creativity, Lilanka is an old soul who loves life, laughter and stepping off the beaten track. She finds joy in nature, travelling and venting her existential frustrations via her writing while calming her body with food and her soul with music. Her motto is – “what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
A collection of eclectic expressions from life according to Lilanka Botejue. From her creative outbursts and passionate views to her love for nature, food, music and archaeology, Owl Muses is an attempt to capture these moments in time.
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