The plot and ultimate ending of Avengers: Endgame left a bitter taste. While the triumph displayed and fought so hard for should be overwhelmingly ecstatic, the actual result is simply not applaudable. Thanos was right, our numbers are catastrophic, and our hubristic dominion over the earth (in the series, the galaxy) is not triumphant, it is catastrophic and suicidal. It seems like the last vestiges of religious tenacity in the scriptural quotation “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it” are taking hold. However, this is simply a smoke screen. This was made apparent to me yesterday during a Financial Management class which I was so kindly invited to attend at the RSM. In this class the market value of Disney from the 1960’s until the persent was taken as a case study. Disney had reached several financial pits due to several factors: two hostile takeovers, several failing CEO’s, and more importantly, a demographic change leading to declining income. As the first is less relevant, the second and third are relevant. Birth rates having (thankfully) naturally fallen due to a several factors - having reached peak child, declining resources linked to rising cost of living, more access to family planning, higher living standard, demographics for Disney have changed causing a significant decline in sales. That combined with longer life expectancy linked to pension funds being dependant upon the success of market value, and you get a situation in which companies like Disney have every incentive to push the Pro-Life agenda. This doesn’t, of course, manifest itself in standing by the doors of Planned Parenthood with pictures of aborted babies. This has manifested itself in a much more subtle way with a gigantic impact. Disney, under the direction of CEO Bob Iger (who essentially pulled Disney out of rockbottom), bought Marvel. Marvel, full of action heroes that speak to grown-up children, therefore avoiding the demographic problem that Disney was struggling with, was in a full position to send forth a message. The message was simply put: Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Thanos is wrong and should be destroyed. The Bible lives on in Disney, but not for the betterment of humankind or human rights. The Bible lives on in Disney to increase its market value.
I am currently conducting a 40-part piece by Alec Roth entitled Earthrise, inspired by the photo likewise entitled of the Earth from the moon. Niel Armstrong (Apollo 11) stated about the Earth, 'it suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth, I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.' This fragility is apparent to astronaut Andre Kuipers as well, who repeats adamantly, 'this is all we have.' Now, there is reason, there is intelligence, but there is also wisdom. And what we currently have in the ant-hill that we call humanity is a whole lot of reason and intelligence, but a great lack of WISDOM based on an emotional realisation of what Andre Kuipers so simply states. So let me applaud Roth for raking through the Bible to find a more relevant text than the one that Disney perpetuates.
Here are some excerpts:
To the hard rock he stretches out his hand; he overturns the mountains by their roots. In the rocks he cuts out channels; and every precious thing is sought out by his eye. The deeps of the rivers he also searches; and hidden things he brings to light.
But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? (Job 28: 9-12)
Hear this, all you nations; pay heed, all you inhabitants of the globe, all you that are Earth-born, and you children of men, all as one, rich and poor: My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. (Psalm 49: 1-3)
Blessed is the man that finds wisdom, and who is rich in understanding. It is better to acquire her than good of silver; and better than purest gold are her fruits. She is more precious than great riches; and all that could be desired cannot be compared with her. Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand, riches and glory. Her ways are of beauty; and all her paths are peace. A tree of life she is to them that lay hold of her; and those who hold her fast are blessed. (Proverbs 3: 13-18)
O wisdom, which came out of the mouth of the most high, reaching from one end all the way to the other, mightily and graciously ordering all things: come and teach us the way of understanding. (O-Antiphon 1)
We will be performing this piece in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen on June 12, 18, and 19. Please see my coming up page for more information and tickets.
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Hebe de Champeaux
conductor, mezzo-soprano, violinist, composer