Wednesday, June 10, 2009

James Callis Quote of the Week: "We're Not So Significantly Different"

There are so many great interviews I have yet to transcribe, thought I'd make a little weekly feature (which will probably not remain weekly for long, but I'm optimistically making a label for it) - a quote from an interview that I think is particularly good.

The first one comes from the Hypaspace Podcast for May 2, 2008. It's a one-question interview about Gaius' "You are perfect just as you are" speech in Escape Velocity (Season 4.0). I think it's a particularly beautiful and eloquent response, and I want to especially compliment the Hypaspace Podcast for letting him speak without cutting in with stupid jokes or comments that he needs to react to the whole time. (The link goes to an mp3 file; the James interview is first, right after the news.)

"An extreme amount of pressure is being, um, burst(?) upon this person, and a lot of it is self-inflicted. The more pressure that is exerted... it seems the more extreme the reactions are to that pressure. And what we see in somebody like Gaius Baltar is somebody going thru the run of... You know, it looks like it can't get any worse, and then it suddenly does. And he's just going thru lower and lower cycles, and he's in a desperate, as it were, desperate self-need of... wanting not to be guilty anymore. I don't know if that's redemption necessarily. So he's finding it for himself, it's kind of... You know, he's the person who WANTS to believe it more than anything else... and I think on that level, those things look most impassioned and there's people to hear it.

But on another level, you know... It's a cry for help and also a cry for hope in some way. Essentially he's saying that... Once you've looked into the very deepest place within yourself... You will understand that so many people are so similar to you. That all of the things that you think divide you are just... They're an illusion, they're constructs. And that's why you know the truth about others, because you know the truth about yourself, we're not so significantly different, nobody... When you know the truth about yourself, and when you look deep within yourself, it's like looking into... I don't know.

There's a lot of things that everybody is capable of when push comes to shove, when your life or those that you love are threatened. When that happens, I believe your brain works in a different way. And I think that there's something about seeing in the darkness which then makes you run... Run for the light, run for the hope. And on that level, he's just been... You know, the darkness is, one man's just beaten the shit out of him. And actually beating him up... of... some logical.. what was it? Legal ... thing... they weren't allowed to be more than twelve people in assembly. So what is it... monsters follow the dream of reason, something like that."

I've noticed James says "on some level" and "on one level" and similar things a lot, and it's not just in this interview. Maybe it speaks of his multi-layered way of thinking: nothing's really that simple and you need to acknowledge the different levels of thought and emotion involved in our reactions.

I found this quote particularly touching, because you can hear his deep compassion and respect for other people so well. It's one of the things I love the most about him. He sees all people as equally valuable, and while I don't think anyone is free of biases, I really admire people who try to see everyone as equal. A part of that is appreciating variety in personalities and views, but also seeing the similarity underlying them. I think this kind of thinking is the basis for all diplomacy or equality or peace, because we need to see each other that way to build a society where we can truly be free and be human.

When he says things like this, I feel a deep, warm connection with him. Maybe it's because we have similar values, or because I struggle with seeing myself as valuable, and it feels healing to think James would value me like everyone else. Or maybe it's because he's expressing a deep connection all humans share on some level. Because we're not so significantly different.

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