Shades of Philosophy
in "The Last Airbender"
Original Article by Muhsin Khalid*
Our previous questions at the end of part three have positive answers to them. Leviticus of the Bible can provide a lot of inspiration in this matter. The purpose of recalling all these religious, philosophical, historical and legendary materials is to prove that the origin of all these human conceptions, as I see it, must have been one and the same niche. The ancient Egyptian concept of relating the start of life to water can help explain all subsequent conceptions, which branched or evolved from this vision or was inspired by it. This vision, in my view, clearly bears reference to the story of Noah.
So Thales' (635 B.C.) principle of the basic unity as the origin of existence which is evident in his famous mantra (water is the origin of all things) is nothing but an idea derived from this first Pharaonic spring of water chaos or Nu from which the god Atum came into being. Ancient Pharaonic beliefs are abundant in Thales' philosophy for he belonged to the school of Alexandria and lived in Egypt for some time but this is a long chapter that does not concern us for now. My focus is being on his adoption of the idea of water from the Pharaohs, in order for it to proceed as an idea into the future, and be expressed by the Qur'anic verse (We made from water every living thing) verse 30, Surat Al-Anbiya.
|Noah's Ark- Courtsey|
In order not to overload the article suffice it to reach this stage of the natural philosophers and their perceptions of the nature of existence, and the emergence of the singular word ‘air’, which also appears in the name of the movie in conjunction with the other singular word ‘bender’.
Going back to the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, or Torah, as in the Muslim culture, we find that it consists of twenty-seven books, which are in turn, subdivided into many chapters. Among these many books we find one that is called Leviticus. So the layman or the group of Levites (priests and laymen) have an entire book of their own inside the Old Testament.
I find clarifying this point necessary to deconstruct the codes in this film because we have said that the airbender was a priest in the eastern way who lived in a monastery and that he was left alone and lonely after his people were exterminated. Despite all this he had to salvage these nations with all their different elements from the grip of the Fire Kingdom and also to love the Fire nation as he loved himself. And this love was made clear when the son of the chief of the Fire Nation captured the avatar for the first time and directly upon finding him. He was captured three times during the movie. The young avatar could have resisted on the spot but the prince threatened that if he thought of resistance, the soldiers would destroy the village of the Water Nation which gave refuge to the avatar. This, of course, was after he was found exhausted by the young man and his sister who brought him home on the back of the bison which is portrayed as a legendary creature that was trapped with the airbender under the ice for a hundred years. It is worth contemplating that legendary bison. For besides its strange shape it was able to walk, swim and fly which reflects a hidden symbolism of the power of the airbender which makes him able to control all the four powers.
|White Buffalo Woman|
The film has this old name bison and not buffalo. In the dictionaries the word "buffalo" is a modern name coined by the French. The bison in the times of myths was thought to bring luck and to be a good sign especially among tribes such as the Lakota Sioux.
This is to borrow from the research in the great Grand Unified Theory (GUT) which is a comprehensive theory that is adopting the ways of early natural philosophers in trying to limit the forces of existence to three basic forces: strong nuclear power, weak nuclear power and electromagnetic power in an attempt to unite these forces in one whole that makes it easy for us to grasp the question of existence all at once.
To confirm this question of a quadruple legend on which are built the structures and the essence of existence, Physics has retracted and amended the triple number of the forces to make it exactly quadruple just like the ancient natural philosophers of whom Empedoclis (490-430 B.C.) was the first to postulate a theorem of four founding elements for existence. This development in physics is hailed as the all effective theory and named The Theory of Everything (TOE).
After the scientists have added the fourth power (gravity) to the above-mentioned three , the powers consolidated, that could explain the universe are: strong nuclear power, weak nuclear, electromagnetic power and gravity. Thus we have a theory of all things (TOE) or, if you will, the myth of all myths, relative to our time!
|The Four Elements|
Once again, why was the hero of the film a child?
This reading which derives, and sometimes, invents philosophical shades for the movie in a parallel structure, without arriving at an answer to this question will lead us, I believe, into the details of Leviticus of the Old Testament.