by carl wilson

Journeys into the Future-Present

Via Ron Silliman: A years-in-the-making site devoted to founding Torontopian bpNichol's Computer Poems, First Screening. If there were an oath of citizenship in this city, it would have to be a bp text, no?

And we haven't talked BSG for a while have we? (Peli, look away!) I quite enjoyed Part 1 of the finale, though it was hobbled by the weakness of the foregoing half of this season. For those of you who haven't seen it, or just don't give a shit, I'll put my ramblings on the jump.

The vital fact about Baltar's trial, it seems to me, quite apart from the Adama-oedipal opera and the wrenching, unforgivable Lee-Laura scene this weekend, is that Baltar is not guilty, in any literal or legal sense, of the crimes for which he's charged. On New Caprica, he literally had a gun to his head, as we're reminded; he was a figurehead who did what he had to do against overwhelming force, guilty only of indulging in drugs and orgies in his prison-office. (According to this week's podcast, the original idea for the trial was to implicate him more directly in a slaughter on New Caprica, but even then with a morally complex, arguably exculpatory back-story.) His real crime in that situation was to win the election by advocating colonization of the planet when he knew it was the wrong thing to do (and, depending on your opinion on the ontological status of the Six in his head, that it might have been what the cylons wanted). But no one else knows this. And in the attack on the Colonies, which is not the subject of the trial but is certainly why Roslin wants him executed, he was again a dupe, and not the willing collaborator she imagines; he violated security regulations, but thought what he was doing was a mere benign bending of the rules. In both cases he was the brilliant intellectual as practical fool, and therein his tragedy lies.

His real, airlock-worthy crimes were his lies about cylon detection (which led directly to Boomer's assassination attempt on Adama) and his horrifying act of pique in giving the nuclear warhead to the "subversives" (led by Gina Six), which was then used to destroy Cloud Nine. But (a bit improbably in both cases) no one has accused him of those acts - and even then he did not commit them understanding their consequences. Which expresses some sense about present-day politics, that the true crimes of our leaders, contrary to the 9/11 conspiracy nuts' view, are structurally driven - the game of politics itself, and the fallible, blinkered egos involved, are the fuses that are lit by events. The agents are contemptible, but never for the simple reasons we'd prefer, and the public is betrayed by its own willingness to share the sincerely held delusions and phantasies of the powerful, because we're embedded in the same structures. And those structures - like the legal system that Lee is so pitiably and adriftly allowing to dictate his actions, against his own conscience, against the loyalties he should cleave to - are not insane. They are immensely fallible expressions of ideals that clash by night, sets of contradictions that cannot be worked out by utopian theories but must inevitably reveal their flaws in action, to be revised until the next irreconcilable contradiction impeaches the revision. But they're what we've got, though we can feel in our bones they're not right and so we cyclically "throw the bastards out" in favour of new bastards.

Which doesn't make Che Jesus Manson Baltar much less of an asshole. But it makes him a martyr too, a creature of the ungainsayable Situation of the BSG universe, devoured by it as much as Starbuck was. Death would become him. And as Lee is now - is there any route left open to him after this, after he has burned his military (dad) and civilian (surrogate-mom) bridges alike? And aside from the again-dying Laura and the wreck of a man that is Tigh, what does Admiral Adama have left of his post-apocalyptic family? It's pretty obvious that next week is going to be a mind-frakking, order-rearranging set of revelations, but man, they're going to need that hiatus till 2008 to conceive a way to move forward, into the star-clusterfuck that stands between a humanity stripped of its not-quite-heroes and a place called Earth.

Read More | | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, March 20 at 12:50 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)



9 more months until its back on! yikes, what will i do with myself?

Posted by andrew on March 29, 2007 5:53 PM



hey Kim, fair call: BSG is the TV show Battlestar Galactica - I didn't explain further because I was about to go into stuff that would only make sense to people who'd been following the story and figured no one else would care. But it's more polite to explain anyway. Sorry about that!

Posted by zoilus on March 21, 2007 11:52 PM



Could you tell us what BSG stands for or provide a link?
Maybe you posted that and I wasn't reading as attentively as I should but WTF?

Posted by kim on March 21, 2007 9:32 PM



I enjoy all the trial of Baltar stuff, but I'm more anxious to see where they're going with the final five Cylons. I assume/hope they're really going to twist with out understanding of what it means to be human and to be Cylon.

The Lee-as-lawyer storyline isn't reallly working for me, but I missed a few recent episodes, so maybe it was put in motion believably (though I'm hardly 100% confident about that).

But hey, if Lee can come back from pulling a gun on Tigh and leading a mutiny (season 1), and from his own father calling him "fatass" (early this season), he can probably come back from this.

I like that when in space, lawyers say "exception" instead of "objection."

Posted by DW. on March 21, 2007 5:59 PM



What got me about this season, despite opinions of the latter half of the third season (I thought it was good, on par with the similarly up and down 2.5) was that a recurring theme of doing what is "right". Was Helo right in saving all of the Cylons, even if it probably means the destruction of his own race later on? Was Tigh right to send people on suicide bombing missions, to their deaths? Was Adama stepping over the line by threating to kill Cally? Lee's rebellion is the epitome of all of these "right"s. We'll see how that goes next week, and (I'm sure) the first four or so episodes of next season.

Posted by Ben on March 20, 2007 2:09 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson