The Road, the film based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, is very powerful. Its potency lies in its simple clarity around one central theme — the father’s commandment to his son to “carry the fire” as he himself is being swallowed by the post-Apocalyptic darkness, by barbarism, and of a world gone totally mad in a “war of all against all”. That theme of “carry the fire” is simple and yet profound. It’s not about the future. Rather, it’s about our own post-Enlightenment times — T.S. Eliot’s “Wasteland” and the “abomination of desolation”. The Road is not about what may be. It’s really about what is.
Some of you probably know of the Greek term omphalos. It means “navel”. As such, it is considered a sacred place, the site where the divine creative or sustaining energy, or inspiration, inflows into the cosmos to sustain it. The omphalos is the source and root, the site of origination or even Genesis. For the ancient Greeks, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was not only erected over what was believed to be the omphalos, but which continued to function as the omphalos itself. The Greeks continued to make pilgrimages to the Delphic Oracle to learn wisdom or the divine will.
This omphalos corresponds to what we call “the vital centre”, the heart of the cosmos. In some ways, this ancient conception of the “navel” as point of the influx of divine energy into the cosmos has been now also been assigned to “black holes” or “white holes” in astrophysics.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.