Koyaanisqatsi… Powaqqatsi… Naqoyqatsi

life out of balance… life in transformation… life as war

The final movie
in Godfrey Reggio’s
Qatsi trilogy will be released in October. I’ve only seen the first one, Koyaanisqatsi
, but I’ve never forgotten it.

The image that stays with me is at the end of the movie, of a rocket launch, an explosion, and then in slow motion, a piece of the shattered rocket tumbling down through the sky. (This was before the Challenger disaster

It’s a shattered dream of escape, but it also, literally, brings us back to earth, to think about what comes next. It’s a challenge to find a new dream, closer to home.


Ironically (without any words), I think the movies also make a good argument for the conservation of languages. Their titles are in the Hopi language, and express concepts we simply have no words for in English. It’s not that we don’t think about the same things in English, but having a specific word for a concept gives it force. The word becomes a place in our thinking – a place where other ideas can connect, react and hammer out their meanings.

What I don’t know is if the words are new constructions, or if they were part of the Hopi language before the movies came along. I like to think the words came first. I would like to learn more about the language – and why
they have words for these concepts.

We need
more ways to see our world, to avoid all the risks inherent in a monoculture of ideas – and to keep life interesting :-)