December 24th, 2017

I’ve been thinking in German. This is the result of binge-watching a German Netflix series with Karin. The title of the series is “Dark”, and it is completely appropriate. It matches the show’s subject matter, the scenery, and the language. The series addresses a number of heavy themes: free will (Freier Wille), fate (Schicksal), the purpose of our lives, and the existence of God. I am convinced that no American TV show would even attempt to incorporate these topics into a drama. As it is, “Dark” combines wormholes, time travel, and the dangers of nuclear energy into a story of generations of tangled family relationships. Most of my time was spent trying to figure out who was connected to whom, as the series progressed.

“Dark” appeals to me for a couple reasons. The story takes place in a town called Winden, which is actually not terribly far from where Karin lived all those years ago. Part of the show, since it has to do with time travel, takes place in 1986. I was stationed in Germany in the early 80’s, so the images on the screen bring back some memories for me. It is impossible to completely re-create the past, but the show does a tolerable job of it. The mood in the series is spot on. I remember Germany as being often dark and rainy. Most of the action in the series takes place at night, or in caves, or in dimly-lit, Teutonic forests: dark places conducive to thinking dark thoughts. The premise of the show is a bit silly, but the feeling is accurate. The language accentuates the tension and the gloom. I don’t think this show would work nearly as well in Spanish or Italian: those languages are too light and too sunny.

One of the show’s hooks is that it touches upon the very human desire to go back in time, and tweak the past. People often want to unsay words or undo actions. There is a scene where an old woman tells her grandson, ”

“Wenn ich die Zeit zurückdrehen könnte, würde ich viele Dinge anders machen.”

“If I could turn back Time, I would do many things differently.”

I wonder about that. If I could go back, would I really change things? I doubt it.

The series has a strong Buddhist vibe. There is a heavy emphasis on the interconnections between all things. There is also the notion of being in the present moment. One character in the show is a elderly watchmaker/inventor/scientist. At one point he converses with a time traveler. The time traveler ask the scientist if he has any desire to see the future or to revisit the past. The old man replies,

“Nein, ich würde nicht in die Zukunft oder in die Vergangenheit gehen wollen. Ich gehöre hier … jetzt.”

“No, I would not want to go to the future or to the past. I belong here…now.”

That is totally Zen.

Generally, I don’t watch television. I find most shows to be mindless and superficial.

This one haunts me.



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