© 2016 by James Clark
Blade Runner (1982) is one of a very small handful of films that can be truly described as “haunting.” What makes its power doubly remarkable is that it derives from an auteur who does not originate the bare bones of his works but depends upon pre-made literature by which he can deliver impacts at cinematically optimal force. The writer behind Scott’s scenario here, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982), was an exponent of science fiction with a view to the question, “What constitutes the authentic human being?” His novel, Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? (1968), cites a planet Earth largely abandoned by old-line Homo sapiens and populated by androids in relation to which a bounty hunter reaps rewards of sorts. Dick, who died four months before the film’s release (to a tepid response), had declared that Scott’s running with those initiatives “justified” his “life and creative work…” But before we party with the overwhelming visual-sensual drama on tap, let’s show some apt amazement brought to our attention by those literary roots. “The world we actually have does not meet my standards,” Dick has remarked; and before we get into personality disfigurement it would be wise to recognize that the sense of “more real,” flourished by that venerable insurrection, Surrealism, has been heavily criss-crossed by the history of philosophy and science for the past 150 years. Scott has no qualms about the input of others because he recognizes that the waves he’s intent on making are part of a much wider effort. (His renowned earlier and now parallel TV ads also derive from serendipity events, upon which he expends graphic design magic, and something more.) That’s why he also brings on board the fading candle light of that Jacques Demy who loved color saturating his streetscapes, had a thing about umbrellas and black cars and a thing about Catherine Deneuve in Camelot outfits—Scott’s leading lady, Sean Young, being a dead ringer for that exquisite bone-china presence.
A genetic designer, J.F. Sebastian (with copious musical and political baggage), is asked by a pretty android, “Why aren’t you in the Off-World” [planets other than Earth]? “I failed the medical,” he replies. You’d have to say that looking elsewhere than the status quo looms very large in the era at issue (perhaps the only false move in this stunningly daring and sharp endeavor being setting the action in the LA of 2019, way too soon!). Our first entry into that city finds it an electronic and chemical bombardment zone of outdoor advertisements, one of the first we hear being the audio blare, “A new life awaits you in the Off-World colonies… The chance to begin again! The golden land of opportunity and adventure… Helping America into the New World!” A cop (Deckard) forced out of retirement and back to a job he was only too proficient at, namely, killing androids who had become too proficient at evoking violent emotions, becomes emotionally attracted to a beautiful android, Rachael, and while with her at his flat his equilibrium resembling a slow-moving tornado, a slow-moving air-barge passes by his windows, announcing, Off-World. Off-World. Off-World…
The atmosphere enveloping such stressful deliberations tells us a lot about where the formerly burned-out protagonist and his new but flickering flame live. The highways and byways of the City of Angels are punctuated by carbon-emitting gas fields with their mast-rigs flaming skyward into a near-perpetual night and consequent near-perpetual rainfall. Paradoxically perhaps, this predation upon priceless oxygen has become accompanied by an efflorescence of arresting neon signage along congested retail corridors and towering video screens affixed to commercial and residential structures, featuring promotions of dominant corporations like Coca Cola designed with no small degree of panache. One of the repeatedly-seen creations is a blue neon dragon with blood-red flames coming from its mouth. That is but one echo of Scott’s previous film, Alien (1979), where a horrific form of organic conscious-resentment menaces and savages the crew of a space ship not nearly as zealous for Off-World experience as the population on view here. One of the smaller electronic signs impacted on a building shows a ginger cat, being one of the rare survivors of that nightmare. In seeking to bring to integrity his reflexive resentment toward “robotic” entities, Deckard, during that contentious rendezvous with Rachael, comes to a window and the glint of rare sunlight passing through his grotty exposure and striking the collar of his leather jacket (Southern California being more sub-arctic than sub-tropical) creates a pattern of sharp, teeth-like forms, recalling the deadly fangs of the disgusting aliens who regard earthlings as disgusting aliens.
Near the outset of this design-binge war zone, Deckard (deck of cards?), chaffing on being commandeered to become once again a violently active player, hears from his former boss, “If you’re not cop you’re little people.” Underlining that spoken version of those irresistible gigantic hard-sells, the Japanese lieutenant who rounded up the cop dabbling with being little deftly produces an origami chicken. Boss man Bryant (shades of Bear Bryant, legendary Alabama football coach [1913-1983] and for years keeping his distance from blacks) then commits a simplistic faux pas of his own: “No choice, Pal…”
Though at first seeming to be an unremarkable fixture in a scene where all the excitement is passing him by, we have ample opportunity to fathom Deckard’s ability to progress in that environment to a difficult state neither cop nor little people, a range of insight having impelled his early retirement. (An epigraphic preface remarking that the killing of those androids—the most advanced and dangerous (almost Alien– level version) being called “Replicants—is known as “retirement.”) The onset of that interview with Rachael finds him driving home from a first confrontation with her at her workplace, arranged by Bryant. The optical keynote of that drive (in which he replays in his mind a surveillance video at the cop shop showing one of those uppity androids being tested, at Rachael’s, by a less than superstar player [Holden, a minor star, off the bench for Bryant the win-master] who consequently gets shot to pieces by the one getting tested) is a tunnel where a teal-blue shimmer on walls and ceilings endows the shaken driver with some much-needed encouragement. The unnerved specialty-team hero reaches his apartment and calls in at the security feature of the elevator, “Deckard 97” (he very much seeming to be geezer -fragile); and he frantically pulls out his revolver as the elevator door opens to reveal Rachael, one of “them”—having been upset by the corporate meeting’s (correctly, as it happens) revealing her to be another of the top of the line constructs emanating from her workplace, the Tyrell Corporation. Rachael, programmed to have a detailed childhood, though recently minted and drastically finite, is unique in not being systematically apprised of her “artificial” essence. Deckard, at that point of craven fear of all such entities tears into her as a disgusting alien, coming into his perspective being a policing culture inured to the sense that such aliens are either innocuous, useful oddballs or ferocious killers (being as bright as humans and many times more physically robust, they being designed to be efficient slaves). “Let me help you,” she calmly begins, picking up some mail the jumpy one dropped. “What do I need help for?” he flounders. (On this trajectory the barracuda teeth and their cloud of resentment spill out on his collar.) She is anxious to have him not suspecting her to be a Replicant. He, more than suspecting, mocks here caseload of “childhood” memories by rattling off an insulting early day— “Remember when you and your brother sneaked into an abandoned building to play doctor?” She meets his spleen by rounding out another mockery, about a spider and its web, a large egg and a hundred baby spiders coming out of it.“And they ate her.” As he reiterates, “Implants… Those aren’t your memories” [the more respectful ones, that is, at her workplace, and birthplace], a tear forms in her eye, a small, single moment of relentment in her regime of magisterial poise. Then Deckard salvages what he can from looking like her redneck footman. “OK, bad joke… I made a bad joke. You’re not a Replicant… Go home. No, really! I’m sorry!” Rushing to pour her a big shot of Scotch (the drink of Scott?), she’s already left. But drinking it (his second) himself and thinking hard, he’s already starting to make less of a mess of things next time.
In that interlude of silence, Deckard could be said to be dealing out another hand from a repertoire lurching to the old and to the (very) new. He now begins to evince that he more consistently realizes that “little people” retirement is worse than shabby in an era redolent of going for broke and its vast expanses. Bryant had shown him photos of a group of four Replicants who had, after slaughtering a 23-person crew [ring a bell?], hijacked the craft and come to LA to deal with the measly 4 years of life they had been granted; and now he was, following an address leaked out by the first subject before shooting the questioner, looking at a bid to be, if not much of a lover, at least a virtuoso killer (and, in this wedge of the new, the distance between them becomes remarkably slight). Thus it transpires that in our protagonist’s following the lead and blasting many bloody holes in an android readily employed in using her attractive chops to romance a (robotic) snake in a strip club, only to be set upon by the gunman who, having quickly unarmed him and smashing him around a hectic street, declares, “It’s painful living in fear, isn’t it?” it is Rachael—having turned down his phone invitation to join him at the strip club largely populated by a covey of Audrey Hepburn wannabes—(looking as regal as Deneuve in Donkey Skin) who guns down the metaphysical revenger. (In the stalking of the stripper at her dressing room, he had chosen to ape a moralist zealot concerned that the woman’s privacy might be violated by some of her fans peeking at holes in her dressing room walls, a sign that he was en route to stoking a recently dormant edge.) Back at his place he admits to “shakes.” “Me too,” she admits. She goes on to acknowledge, from out of the surreal netherworld now undeniable, “I’m not in the business. I am the business…”Thinking along lines of a radical damage control, she moots, “What if I go away? Disappear? Would you come after me, hurt me?” A very different man from the jittery smartass at that locale a few days ago, he sombrely replies, “No. No, I wouldn’t… I owe you one…” (After bagging the “exotic”—a barker introducing her with, “Watch her take pleasure from the serpent…”—Bryant comes by and taunts, “Christ, Deckard. You look about as bad as that skin-job you left on the sidewalk! A goddamn one-man slaughterhouse, that’s what he is!”) He adds the dark reality weighing on them both, “But somebody would.” From out of that impending horror, she poses the coincidence, “Did you ever think about yourself” [being an android]? But by then he has fallen asleep, being not nearly the tireless night owl she is.
We have to resist this thread of interpersonal affection becoming a romantic item and not much more. As we’ll soon see, two more Replicants take over much of the spotlight. And a way of staying the course of remarkably hard sensibility is to pay close attention to Bear Bryant’s pep talk about Deckard’s delivering for the Home Team. During the moment when our protagonist was handed his marching orders, the top cop speaks of the four recalcitrants on screen and a fifth being killed by a security fence. But he also posits that it was a six-person invasion, never specifying who the sixth was and what his fate was. Rachael is never in the picture within the conversation of the fugitives and seems to be a special creation by that other overbearing boss-man, Tyrell, to push the limits of equilibrium within the menu of Replicants. (His breakthroughs hitherto [into an unbeknown consciousness] had been strictly about advancing equipment.) Tasting blood at the site of Deckard’s first kill, he ups the ante, being always about bedevilling others to cover over his essential pussiness. “Four more to go…”Deckard protests that there’s only three to go; but the snoop, knowing about Rachael’s being an item, wants to see four more corpses. “The skin-job [that term for a weakly comprehended sensuality] of Tyrell has disappeared.” (Number six, we are, I think, to conclude [though in one sense it could be another casualty, of unknown resting place], would be the phantom upgrade which the buccaneers lust to become. That is, in fact, to say, all the old-style earthlings like Deckard.)
En route to their love-making, and its exchanges, “I want you”/ “I want you,” there is her reverie on “trust” between them, while Deckard dozes. There is also, within the quasi-coal-mine optics of his woeful home—slathered with modernist reliefs resembling the engine room in Alien—a stiff shot of film noir (her retro shoulder pads, the saxophone jazz escalation and her then playing a blues motif on his piano (Where did that come from?!); and, finally, her admitting she didn’t even know she could play. Their kiss leaves her even more confused and she rushes away. (She had heard herself say, “Put your hands on me!”)
But despite the infusion of a more straightforward and dead-end mysteriousness, what began as an atmospheric sci-fi, one-man safari has veered off into something far more on the order of an eerie cosmological investigation, coming to bear in strictly cinematic terms. Bryant’s skim of the terrible 4 touted the stripper, Zhora, as a special threat (“Talk about Beauty and the Beast!”). Her cameo turn fell far short of that build-up. But with the final 2, ironically including a figure, Pris, who is written off as a sex machine by the less than stellar high-ranking detective, we are not simply about finishing an evocatively dangerous job but beginning to engage the full consequentiality of the mystery of consciousness, also being broached by Rachael and the Protagonist-Beast. Accordingly, theepisode opens with Pris infiltrating, on the basis of super-sleuthing by someone referred to by Bryant as the leader, one Roy Batty, the whimsical, one-note benignity of Sebastian, whose name trails out the warning of polyphonic complexity and fusion. In suckering the physically challenged engineer (suffering from “accelerated decrepitude”) to allow her to stay with him, she—emerging from a pile of rubbish on the typically filthy street in front of his building—tells him “I’m lost” (and we recall Robert Bresson’s short-lived Mouchette, calling out to a possible escape from disaster, “Lost, Sir, lost!”). She adds, “I’m hungry, J.F.” [there having been a J.F. promising to alleviate hunger]. Though in one sense a con job, there is about the actress, Daryl Hannah, a stream of cogent warmth which, on her entering his flat (in a building that would regard derelict as a reno) and seeing his robotic toys/friends, discloses dimensions of wit. (Her kissing on the forehead her sleeping little host sends us back to the kisses of Deckard and Rachael. Sebastian wakes up from that and says, “You look beautiful.” “Thanks,” she says, not in jest. Batty comes by (“This is the friend I was telling you about…”), and on telling her that the other two are dead she declares, “We’re stupid. We’ll die.” “No we won’t,” he insists. Sebastian, well aware of their being engineered constructs (far subtler than his doughty toys), on finding that they are instances of Nexus 6 generation (a very advanced process of connectivity), brightens up and proudly informs them, “There’s some of me in you.” And following the wild creative ways of connectivity, the human factor of such sustenance has thereby invoked the farthest reaches of the Surrealist insurrection. Turning to more crude affairs, Sebastian, though he first of all refuses Roy’s request of an introduction to Tyrell, the final 2, by a combination of clearly lethal potential and touching care—“You’re our only friend”—win over the lonely man having the time of his life.
By way of an artisan of android eyes having directed Batty, and therefore Pris, to Sebastian’s place, the leader gets around to tearing out Tyrell’s eyes and crushing his skull in reaction to the “genius’” being unable to stop the clock. “I want more life, Fucker!” was his unhappy and graceless lament. Killing the hapless guide next, leads to the police alerting Deckard about the murder victim’s address, very likely to be the death of him; but a headquarters, nevertheless, of desperation capable of surprising rallies. He, now in a trench coat, seemingly appropriate for devastating encounters, rings up to Pris, and claims to be an old friend of Sebastian wanting to see him. She buzzes him in, and as she awaits her fate (not falling for the pretence for a second) we see her eyes revisiting “We’ll die” and at the same time ready for battle. The first skirmish has her punching him and doing a series lightning quick back flips culminating with crushing his neck; but the same hand gun, which wore down a retreating Zhora at long range, now mows down Pris at short range, her gut ripped apart and her going through a frenzy of twisting, kicking and shrieking. Surprisingly, these ugly death throes are far more touching than off-putting, a testimony to her palpable thirst and love for the spree of nuances she has been granted. With the eyes expert, Batty enthused, “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes!” That bounty would have included a lot of terrible violence. But, on returning to Sebastian’s and finding Pris on the floor, he gives her a tender kiss and her tongue reaches out to attain to one last shot in the dark. Roy (not quite royal) had kicked things off at the eye lab with the loaded term, “Morphology” (followed up with the less disinterested, “Longevity”). In gouging out the top-dog’s eyes, he was (momentarily?) unable to take nourishment from, as Tyrell puts it, “the light that burns twice as bright” [for being brief].
But turning to his most pressing enemy, Batty shows he’s far from batty. (The film shows great pedigree in having a vicious killer steal the show from a protagonist with focusing problems in the precinct of polyphony.) He rallies Deckard with, “Not very sporting to be firing on an unarmed opponent. Show me what you’re made of.” As he proceeds to readily disarm and the pummel a terrified opponent, he snarls, “Proud of yourself, little man?” And his snide anger indicates resentment more about the crudely self-serving nature of his and his lover’s inception than a pesky and largely mere cop employed to fulfil a program of lynching androids by way of a cultural disregard of apt attention to the essence of “Off-World,” “more real” motives. As Deckard retreats in fear amongst the passageways and rooftops of the virtual ghost town he has settled for, Batty begins to howl like a wolf, in part as facetiously playing the part of the wild, inconsequential savage which the era’s optics dictate, but also in part relishing one of those “twice as bright” moments of intense mortality up for grabs in a time of drastic departure. Deckard has had bones in his fingers snapped like rock candy and, at a temporary refuge on the ledge of the roof, he shows return of resolve in excruciatingly reversing the dislocation. Caught up with by the figure with nothing to lose—a shot Deckard got off before losing his gun having created a bleeding wound by one of Roy’s ears—he’s hanging on the ledge (Vertigo-style) and Batty, now also experiencing a return to resolve, pulls him up and deposits him on a firm terrain. (Just before that, Batty had called out melodramatically, “I can see you” and then he howled, the temptation to lord it over an inferior being momentarily irresistible. He then pulled a big spike out of a board and drove it into his hand, a motion of withstanding pain paralleling Deckard’s self-treatment of his fingers. Also in play there was an evocation of a pitch of sensuality tending to go AWOL.) As Deckard twists and turns in fear, his adversary tells him, “Quite an experience to live in fear… That’s what it is to be a slave…” Batty the Beast (who, during the early skirmishing, had returned to Pris’ corpse to kiss her one last time and taste her blood) sits down by Deckard and says almost imperceptibly, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships off the shoulder of Orion… I watched sea beams glitter in the darkness… All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain…Time to die…” Deckard closes his eyes. Next thing we hear, while the protagonist is seen still where some things become clearer, is the origami lieutenant and jockey of a black flying sedan: “You’ve done a man’s job, Sir!” Then he adds (noir-style, and more than noir-style), “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?”
The lovers slip away in the night. After that dawning of the wildest sufficiency of death on the roof, capped by a dovetail montage of the faces of both of them, the lovers have given us a surprising lack of intensity. “Do you love me?” Decker asks quietly and tepidly, just before cutting out of the bachelor pad forever. “I love you,” she repeats, as if registering a voice ID. (In fairness, they do stand to be arrested and destroyed at any minute.) “Do you trust me?” he adds. Her “I trust you” shows a bit of warmth. The lieutenant deposits an origami unicorn on the departure track. A white unicorn had slipped into Deckard’s dream the night she saved his life. In Cocteau’s film, Beauty and the Beast, a white, flying charger has an impressive track record. That does not prevent a denouement of wretched death for one and wretched cynicism for the other. “A man’s job” or, perhaps better put, “a human’s job,” seems, in the sightline of this narrative, to be much more than quitting LA. (Close to the temporary locale of Leon, the poor interviewee, and Zhora there is another cheap lodging called “Yukon,” recalling a stampede to a zone where not all that glitters is gold.) Blade Runner might seem to be some kind of glimpse into the future. Its trials and tribulations might be consigned to the rubric of evolutionary growing pains. But maybe that arrestingly out-of-whack date of 2019 alludes to a situation where an imminent crisis can mix and match with a stream of peculiar settings tracing to infinity.
Philip K. Dick, the man who did a man’s job in the course of dreaming up principal features of our film and myriad other films was a life-long devotee to what is generally seen as “science fiction” (which is to say, a profit centre catering to those who’d rather be Off-World than, as Dick would say. mired in a place that does not meet their standards). The broad assumption of such elitist squirming is that somewhere, somehow, the wrongness of life on Earth will be obviated. Ridley Scott, an already compelling and hugely lucrative graphic designer at the point of his venturing into film work, gives us in Blade Runner visual and sonic startlements that carry the effects of strong drugs. Thereupon he overrides Dick’s saga of rough kicks with a saga of intent heavily laced with tour-de-force set, make-up, costume and dramatization design, lighting and cinematography to the point, in fact, where the human and android figures move across a field of sensuality in such a way that their presence is both a factor of a dynamic physical regime and a dynamic conscious regime. Although the title purports to cover one of a cadre of ace assassins, the blade we see from beginning to end is that tightrope leaving earthlings and Off-Worldlings alike on constant notice of coordinating as best they can the ways of motion which both carries them and is carried by them in turn.
Despite its flood of cruel violence and shattered aspiration, our film functions as a sharply impeded celebration of a form of chivalry never dreamed of in Camelot. Following up the disastrous first interview of the Replicant eventually “retired” by Rachael—clearly, despite Bryant’s very imprecise sense of the case, no friend of the invaders—Deckard hies to a residential structure called the Hundertwasser. The word Hundertwasser brings to us an Austrian artist/architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1929-2000) whose self-chosen name refers to “many streams.” (An exponent of spirals, his life included masking his Jewish roots during the Nazi-era [Fascist-era-style architecture being apparent in the eagle-wings patterns of the exterior of the Tyrell Corporation structure with its proto-imperialist Mayan-temple look] and helping the Dali Lama escape from Tibet.) Thus the beginnings of the police chase are embedded with that caution concerning one-track-wonderfulness.
Having put into view a type of conscious entity exponentially increasing that range of kinetic power bedevilling world history to date (“to date” being an exodus from planet Earth), the dramatic core of this film stands as a catch about consciousness in the form of courage. Unfortunately for scientists, life is far more than a longish data-crunch. The Replicants, Pris and Roy, give Sebastian, the genetic designer, a little primer on this matter. In the first moments of thrilling to be in the presence of Nexus 6 products, Sebastian—showing that, though cordial and quite generous, he falls short of the powers informing his name—tells them, “Show me something.” Roy asks, “Like what?” only to be told, “Anything” [that a geek would be impressed by]. “We’re not computers, Sebastian,” the leader replies. “We’re physical.” Then Pris chimes in with what first of all seems to be merely some chat she’s borrowed from her betters (Bryant convinced she’s nothing but a prostitute): “I think, Sebastian, therefore I am.” On Roy’s urging, “Show him why” [her consciousness has a role to play in her very existence and all existence], she does a back flip, her long legs and pretty face, eyes air-brushed black for Roy’s arrival, impacting as a vivacity about mystery far from a classical rational expedition exploding problems. But the harsh brevity of their sensibility induces Roy to go on a jag of deadly resentment, unctuously priming his host with, “If we don’t find out [a cure] soon, Pris hasn’t got long to live. We can’t allow that…” Though her eyes get excitedly, cruelly caught up in the violence, the dark triumph about to unfold, Pris follows another priority from that of Batty’s trying to add a bit of big-time scheming to Sebastian’s inroad to Tyrell, namely their endless chess tournament. (“No! Knight takes Queen…No good!” An ironical premonition of the conjunction of Deckard and Rachael; and also looking to the shooting of Pris.) She goes to the refrigerator and sprawls with feline grace as she polishes off a plate of finger food. That totally different, totally physical gambit had been presaged by her slouching on a soft chair while holding on a string one of Sebastian’s little toys, the motion of the figure being allowed to play into her own sensuous makeup.(In his review of Scott’s Thelma and Louise, Roger Ebert demonstrates how keeping up with the filmmaker’s priority of human relations is easily jettisoned. “Thelma and Louise was directed by Ridley Scott, from Britain, whose previous credits…show complete technical mastery but are sometimes not very interested in psychological questions.”)
By way of the Time Magazine issue of March 7, 2016, coming to bear at exactly the days when I was working on Blade Runner, we can further appreciate the trajectory of that profound and thrilling “human relations” reflection Ebert felt to be lacking in the film. Scott’s passionate incisiveness looks even better when measured against the much-revered subject of Time’s praise, namely, David Gelernter, a Yale University Computer Science poo-bah and expert on “artificial intelligence.” Put briefly, the apparently wildly daring insight of Gelernter consists in noting that it matters a lot that our brain is part of our body. “The full expression of the human mind requires the entire spectrum” [of the sensibility]. He goes on from there to cite Kafka: “The meaning of life is that it ends.” As with his declaration, “Engineers may build sophisticated robots but they can’t build human bodies,” that probable overstatement of the obliterating process death within a crucial topspin of the resonant delight of life (which—academic to the hilt—he feels compelled to call “down-spectrum” in contrast to “up-spectrum” [the mind pursuing meaning by using [classical calculative] logic]), is trotted out as quasi-mathematical truth. Promising starting points, like, “…the body—not just the brain—is part of consciousness [and so] the mind alters with the body’s changes…” do not find a comprehensive standpoint from which to dig into the questions of “artificial intelligence.” Not only has he stuck around Yale way too long, but Gelernter, though quite fastidious about literature, religion and those philosophical threads not apt to annoy scientistic dogmatists, seems to know and care nothing about avant-garde art and film, the practitioners of which seemingly striking him as impertinent, undocumented aliens.
The subjects of courage, cowardice and conflict do not seem to matter to that ivory tower weaver of an antiquated tapestry of feelings and calculation. In Scott’s film the ivory tower known as Camelot means a lot. The neon sign at the noodle bar, showing a blue dragon and his fire-red tongue, presages a saga of battle. Knights are knights till the day they die. And the battles they wage would not all be about friction with others. There are battles with one’s self and battles in the form of melding disparate phenomena. And, though Sebastian was no such warrior on the grounds of polyphonic, our two fugitives left on the field have many cards to play. Many great films, including Scott’s Alien, constitute an encouragement, an inspiration and a treasure sustaining the possibility that brave and joyous loving hearts might stay the course of interpersonal and material magic. Fancy machinery and fabulous gallivanting would not be beside the point; but they would not constitute the heart of the matter.