Xeno Hemlock


#ThinkAboutIt - Paradise is Prison? Safety is the True Enemy?

If I had known I would witness giant humanoid creatures plucking random people up from a panicking mob on the ground, I would've think twice before purchasing a ticket for the film. The last two times movies disturbed me to heart were the anime section of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1 and the famous Pale Man scene from Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Since I had confidence with my friend's taste, I went to see Attack on Titan in the cinema to help pass the time on an off-work day. Gruesome Titans eating humans with no remorse wasn't exactly my idea of passing time.

Horror aside, I found the film beautiful and fascinating at the same time (Confession: The film is my introduction to the Attack on Titan universe). It made me ponder about the smallness of life. Us humans think we are the best thing on this planet since sliced bread. But with just one swoop of a hungry Titan, we become breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack perhaps. Our life ends in the most disgusting and horrifying manner, no chance of it being ever romanticised. It's one of the worst ways to expire from Earth.

Two very important dialogues from the movie caught my attention.

The first came from Souda. After the film's three main characters failed to venture out of the giant walls that protected humankind from the threat of the Titans, he told them as a way of indirectly saying he understood what they tried to do, @@"Even paradise could become prison if you take notice of the walls."@@

Nani? Mata? Ikuzo!

"Even paradise could become prison if you take notice of the walls."

Let me give you a great definition of paradise by Max Gunther from his book How to Get Lucky: 13 techniques for discovering and taking advantage of life's good breaks.

Consider the career plodder, a typical product of our place and time: joins a company right after high school or college; fears risk; never sticks her neck out; makes as few decisions as possible; innovates nothing. Comes to work promptly at opening time each morning does precisely the work that is required, and goes home promptly at five. Thirty-five years later, collects a gold pen-and-pencil set and retires, never to be seen or heard from again.
— Max Gunther

Boom! Clap!

As soon as we are born, life already has paradise ready for us. It mostly looks like this: Drink milk. Play toys. Punch another kid. Go to nursery school. Go to grade school. Go to high school. Go to a college or university. Secretly hate the professor. Take home a white piece of paper called diploma. Make a resume. Submit a resume. Sign a contract. Get regular paycheques. Buy a house and post a photo on Facebook. Loan a car and post a photo on Instagram. Fuck without protection. Get married. Propagate. Retire. Die.

We're not going to discuss other modifications of the example of paradise above. But let's say that it is the exact image of paradise promised to each and everyone of us. We then live the rest of our lives following the road of paradise to a T because the bottom line of the paradise's promise is this - "You'll be happy.


Why then do we have degree holders who can't find a job they like? Why then do we have workers who don't love their jobs or careers? Why then do we have social media whores filled to the brim with insecurities? Why then do we have married couples having extramarital affairs? Why then do we have elders going to their deathbeds with so many luggages of regrets? Paradise, it seems, isn't paradise after all. 


We continue living in paradise believing this is where happiness is supposed to be. But then we take notice of the wall and try to get over it in the hopes of discovering what's on the other side and getting away from prison. But why don't some people try to get over the wall or even take notice of it?

The Titan-slaying Captain Shikishima said it in the second important dialogue. "The true enemy is safety," he quipped.

Nani? Mata? Ikuzo!

@@"The true enemy is safety."@@

The only way for them to kill a Titan is by attacking its nape. And to get close to a Titan they must forget about safety. They must take risks with their lives. Get close to a Titan for a chance to kill. Or don't get close, no chance of killing and you'll be killed anyway.

Gunther has a great definition of safety in his book too.

There are two ways to be an almost sure loser in life. One is to take goofy risks; that is, risks that are out of proportion to the rewards being sought. And the other is to take no risks at all.
— Max Gunther

Paradise also promises safety. It tells people, "Do as I tell you. Follow the plan and nothing bad will happen to you." Those who believe it stay inside paradise in exchange of safety but then the wall gets compromised and in come the Titans anyway to eat the complacent humans.

Come to think of it. Shikishima didn't say the Titans were the true enemy. Safety. The true enemy is safety.

We can stay safe inside our paradise surrounded by walls. The Titans will break in. Both paradise and safety disappear. Do we have to wait for a hundred years before our Titans break in? Or do we go out of paradise and face what lies beyond the erected walls?

Think about it. @@Is your paradise your own prison? Have you faced the true enemy?@@

Any thoughts? Leave your comments below.

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