Samer Darwich

Samer Darwich

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

    5

    How the Situational Conditions Shape Behavior: Boy eating the bird's food

    In contemporary Athens, the protagonist, Yorgos, is a tormented young man on the verge of famine. He’s ostensibly educated and cultured yet separated from family and friends. What sets this topic noteworthy is that it is symbolic of times of crisis, which put many individuals in tough situations. Lyzigos, the film’s director, refers to his work as a psychological case study of the crisis. Though the film’s plot is around a personal story, it has societal implications. Yorgos’ personal history is kept hidden for the duration of the film; we can only see his behavior in unpleasant situations along with his ambiguous motivations. As a result, the film serves as a useful illustration of how situational factors shape people’s behavior regardless of their personal identities, backgrounds, or histories.
    After addressing the film in general and numerous key sequences in particular, all in the context of a situation in which humans’ basic needs are being mistreated, the author may mention and discuss some psychological experiments, one of the well-known of which is the Stanford Prison Experiment. It was created to see how situational circumstances affected participants’ reactions and behaviors throughout a prison simulation. Another example is the Milgram Experiment, which deals with a setting in which volunteers are directed to obey authority. Although psychological studies are not essential, they may provide factual evidence for the idea that situational conditions can influence people’s behavior regardless of their identities! Finally, the contributor can ask a serious question about the interplay of personal and situational factors: at what point does the impact of situational factors become dominant? Aren’t there reasons linked to a person’s own characteristics, such as how reasonable or impulsive he is?

    • An interesting psychological analysis of the film. It would be helpful to have a little summary of the film at the start for context, but it would be a great discussion. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 2 months ago
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    • It's worth noting that the two experiments listed above have films dedicated to them, specifically Kyle Patrick Alvarez's The Stanford Prison Experiment from 2015 and Michael Almereydaq's Experimenter from 2015. – Samer Darwich 2 months ago
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    • If I recall, the Stanford Prison Experiment has had some negative criticism in its methodology. Just something that may be worth keeping in the back of the mind. – J.D. Jankowski 2 months ago
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    7

    Exploring Murphy's law through "Interstellar"

    The film "Interstellar" raises the idea of murphy’s law. But should we consider this as merely an idea that shows up in the film – like lots of ideas we may raise in films – or is there more? Can the daughter’s name be considered as a sign that that law has a deeper role in the film? Many questions can be addressed about the law and how it is related to the film and more.
    1. What is the initial form of Murphy’s law? How has it changed historically? How does the movie "Interstellar" show this change?
    2. Discuss the meaning of the law. Does the movie use and apply this law somehow? Then how?
    3. Moreover, can it be related to more than the film’s content, more precisely, the style of science fiction that Nolan makes? How such a law is used behind the scenes by Nolan to present his other stories (the Dark Night, Inception, etc.)? How did Nolan draw a line between what "we can imagine" and what "is possible by itself" or "scientifically possible"?
    4. Considering what preceded, to which level the science fiction in Nolan’s work can be considered "fiction"?

    • I think there could definitely be something worth unpacking here, especially as we get a little further down your numerical list. I'll admit that I'm getting slightly hung up on point #1, since it seems pretty indisputable that Murphy's Law is invoked directly by the film, as opposed to being a subtle way of reading into the significance of a certain character's proper name. In an early scene, Murph asks Cooper, "Why did you and mom name me after something that's bad?" to which he replies, "Murphy's Law doesn't mean that something bad will happen. It means that whatever can happen, will happen. And that sounded just fine to us." It's not exactly subtext … it's just text. There's definitely something to be said about how Coop's response reframes the law from its more popular "anything that can go wrong will go wrong" connotation. While this revision speaks directly to the thematic optimism of the film at large, it might also be worth asking if the film is really about Murphy's Law if the law needs to be twisted to accommodate the thesis that Nolan ultimately wanted to propagate. Even if Coop's remark is a valid interpretation of the law (and I'm certainly not well-read enough in the history of Murphy's Law to know one way or another), it feels just as valid to say that Interstellar is a film about "probability," rather than about "the high probability of undesirable outcomes" that most people (including young Murph) would associate with that particular phrase. Aside from all of that, I'm not really sure how we make the leap from point #3 to #4, or even what #4 is even trying to say. It seems to me that we're losing the thread of the film's themes, and replacing that discussion with a misunderstanding of how genres work and/or the narratological meaning of the word "fiction." (I'm not going to reject the topic on those grounds, nor demand edits; I just really wish that everyone on earth would read Dorrit Cohn's The Distinction of Fiction, so I can stop being pedantic about this kind of thing and move on with my life.) – ProtoCanon 6 months ago
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    • To be more precise about what I mean concerning the fourth point. Sometimes, the imagination plays the role of inventing possibilities concerning: What things exist? What they are? And what relations between them exist? etc... Sometimes, we may rely on science, for instance, which would provide us with such possibilities. Now, when does the role of imagination come in this second case? After choosing one scientific possibility concerned with the aforementioned questions, we can imagine "how this possibility may be expressed actually". In other words, imagination will play the role of actualizing such scientific possibilities, not in the world, but in the piece of art (Novel, Film, Game...), and that is different from inventing them in the first place. And as there is a difference between these two processes, we may talk then about different types or levels of "fiction". Or in another way of expression, we may talk about levels of "rationalizing the fiction". – Samer Darwich 6 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    Samer Darwich

    Haidar, greets. This is simply astounding! It’s one of the most intriguing concepts worth paying attention to. That’s great to hear from you, actually.

    [A physicist flirts with philosophy (and lives to tell the tale)] by James Lloyd, was the title of an interesting blog post he published for Scientific American on September 23, 2011. The following are some quotes from what he wrote:

    “Five years ago, I wouldn’t touch philosophy with a barge pole. I was nearing the end of my physics degree, and this had provided me with an adequate enough explanation of the workings of the cosmos.

    (…)

    Philosophy, in my view, was obsolete – important to the Ancient Greeks, but of about as much use today as an inflatable dartboard. Who could need frustratingly unprovable ruminations on the nature of life when physics provides handy, bitesize equations with which to describe the universe?

    (…)

    But philosophy has since come back to bite me on the backside.

    (…)

    … advances in physics have tended to pour petrol, rather than water, on the philosophical bonfire.

    (…)

    Given that science and philosophy are so intertwined, I sometimes wonder why I was skeptical about philosophy. Maybe I bought into the cliché of philosophers as aloof types who pontificate about the nature of a chair. Maybe I was just put off by all the long words. But whilst there are some brain-meltingly abstract ideas in philosophy (epiphenomenalism, anyone?), there are, thankfully, people who make the subject more accessible, explaining how philosophy’s influence can be found lurking in the most unexpected places.

    So, I’m now converted – science and philosophy make surprisingly cosy bedfellows. After all, science can explain the ‘hows’, but it’s not so good at the ‘whys’…”

    Finally, please feel free to share the URL with us so that we may view your work.

    Many thanks.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    Haidar, greetings. What’s fascinating about this is how a simple description of a concept might alter all we thought we knew about the world. Revising the terminology we usually use intuitively without critical thought is a really interesting exercise!

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    It might prove beneficial to consider the [behavioral outcome.] It could be the result of an impulsive or deliberate component of human faculties. The latter, which is linked to logic, depicts making a choice. So there may be no conflict between [free will] and [determinism]; but rather a misperception of what [will] and [determinism] represent. I’d like to recommend Paul Bloom’s Atlantic piece [The War Against Reason] again and again.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    Kaylyn, hello. Yes. Something similar exists. It is, in fact, a clock that tells time using quotations from novels. They’ve compiled thousands of quotes to create a one-of-a-kind timepiece that displays a new phrase every minute, with more added daily. The “Author Clock” is what it’s called. Take a look:

    https://authorclock.com/

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    Hello there, Kiara. One can simply imagine the consequence, calculate it, and anticipate it before doing it and seeing it in its final shape.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    Greetings, Jagger. Could you kindly rephrase your question so that we are clear on what you mean? Thank you for taking the time to share your remarks.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    Think about quantum mechanics if you wish. Consider how you might deal with the wave function or the Heisenberg matrix: It is a wave (matrix) of potentialities or possibilities that could occur in the future, even if they have not yet occurred. When something is at a certain point in time, it has a large range of possibilities for the next point in time. The efficient cause and the environment will determine which of the many potentialities gets actualized (this is referred to as the collapse of the wave function, and it is a form of actualization of the potentia).

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time
    Samer Darwich

    I believe that words like “determined” and other such terms are incompatible with a language built around those circular shapes. In a nutshell, it’s applying notions we’re familiar with (linear language) to a situation where they no longer make sense.

    A Cinematic Journey Through Time