All in Moderation…
What is the Great Moderator? It might be a scolding parent, or a set of shameful consequences. For a student who likes video games a little too much it’s in a desire to maintain a respectable GPA. For a recovering alcoholic it might be a booze-less fridge. So, who moderates human progress?
We have no aliens to drop by as in The Day the Earth Stood Still to tell us our atomic (now nuclear) innovations are a threat to ourselves and our galactic neighbors. We have no Spirit of Futura to show us the ultimate result of our endeavors. Unless you believe in God, we have nothing—except for our own consequences, whether we recognize them or not.
Something that is evident in both The Last Man and Frankenstein is the futility of unchecked ambition. Ambition is wonderful, it’s what drives our race to do amazing things. But it’s also blinding. In the movie Forbidden Planet there’s a scientist, Morpheus, with an IQ that’s…really, really high. During an expedition to an alien planet, he becomes so enamored with the lost technology of an alien race a million years extinct (one that happened to destroy itself with said technology), that when his crew decide to return to earth…
he unleashes a monster and kills them all. Using technology.
What happens when Victor discovers the old philosophers of nature? His dad tells him to leave it, that they’re obsolete. Tell a kid they can’t do something, and… So he continues his studies, and later he has an entire university at his disposal. He’s on a single minded track without any other influence but his own passions. Nature is forgotten.
The same thing apparently happens in The Last Man. We don’t really know how, we just see some of humanity’s efforts to undo what has been done.
Depending on your personal views on global warming, and all that wonderful controversial stuff, you could say something similar is happening now. How many cautionary tales does it take before the general population as a whole realizes that our industry is destroying the environment? It takes more than a hint of concern to dissuade the ambitious—as shown by Victor in the few times he realized what atrocities he was committing, or… I suppose even by Omegarus’ determination to make Syderia his wife, despite a slew of visions and warnings… It always seems that one big catalyst is needed to peel back the curtain. What big catalyst will it take for the human race to realize the importance of finding a balance between innovation, industrialization, art, and nature (wisdom and intelligence)?
PS: There’s an interesting movie called Children of Men which focuses on the same concept of infertility as in The Last Man. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. It deals with population control, and also the horrible thought of who—after we’re gone—will be left to appreciate our great accomplishments.