These are the pages from the fictional book "The Philosophy of Time Travel" by Roberta Sparrow . The text in these pages are crucial to understanding the movie and the rules within the Tangent Universe.
I would like to thank the sisters of the Saint John Chapel in Alexandria, Virginia for their support in my decision. By the grace of God, they are:
Sister Eleanor Lewis
Sister Francesca Godiani
Sister Helen Davis
Sister Catherine Arnold
Sister Mary Lee Pond
Sister Virginia Wessex
This intent of this short book is for it to be used as a simple and direct guide in a time of great danger.
I pray that this is merely a work of fiction.
If it is not, then I pray for you, the reader of this book.
If I am still alive when the events foretold in these pages occur, then I hope that you will find me before it is too late.
Roberta Ann Sparrow
The Tangent Universe
The Primary Universe is fraught with great peril. War, plague, famine and natural disaster are common.
Death comes to us all. The Fourth Dimension of Time is a stable construct, though it is not impenetrable.
Incidents when the fabric of the fourth dimension becomes corrupted are incredibly rare.
If a Tangent Universe occurs, it will be highly unstable, sustaining itself for no longer than several weeks.
Eventually it will collapse upon itself, forming a black hole within the Primary Universe capable of destroying all existence.
Water And Metal
Water and Metal are the key elements of Time Travel.
Water is the barrier element for the construction of Time Portals used as gateways between Universes as the Tangent Vortex.
Metal is the transitional element for the construction of Artifact Vessels.
The Artifact And The Living
When a Tangent Universe occurs, those living nearest to the Vortex, will find themselves at the epicenter of a dangerous new world.
Artifacts provide the first sign that a Tangent Universe has occurred.
If an Artifact occurs, the Living will retrieve it with great interest and curiosity.
Artifacts are formed from metal, such as an Arrowhead from an ancient Mayan civilization, or a Metal Sword from Medieval Europe.
Artifacts returned to the Primary Universe are often linked to religious Iconography, as their appearance on Earth seems to defy logical explanation.
Divine intervention is deemed the only logical conclusion for the appearance of the Artifact.
The Living Receiver
The Living Receiver is chosen to guide the Artifact into position for its journey back to the Primary Universe.
No one knows how or why a Receiver will be chosen.
The Living Receiver is often blessed with a Fourth Dimensional Powers.
These include increased strength, telekinesis, mind control, and the ability to conjure fire and water.
The Living Receiver is often tormented by terrifying dreams, visions and auditory hallucinations during his time within the Tangent Universe.
These surrounding the Living Receiver, known as the Manipulated, will fear him and try to destroy him.
The Manipulated Living
The Manipulated Living are often the close friends and neighbors of the Living Receiver.
They are prone to irrational, bizarre, and often violent behavior.
This is the unfortunate result of their task, which is to assist the Living Receiver in returning the Artifact to the Primary Universe.
The Manipulated Living will do anything to save themselves from Oblivion.
The Manipulated Dead
The Manipulated Dead are more powerful than the Living Receiver. If a person dies within the Tangent Dimension, they are able to contact the Living Receiver through the Fourth Dimensional Construct.
The Fourth Dimensional Construct is made of Water.
The Manipulated Dead will manipulate the Living Receiver using the Fourth Dimensional Construct (see Appendix A and B).
The Manipulated Dead will often set an Ensurance Trap for the Living Receiver to ensure that the Artifact is returned safely to the Primary Universe.
If the Ensurance Trap is successful, the Living Receiver is left with no choice but to use his Fourth Dimensional Power to send the Artifact back in time into the Primary Universe before the Black hole collapses upon itself.
When the Manipulated awaken from their Journey into the Tangent Universe, they are often haunted by the experience in their dreams.
Many of them will not remember.
Those who do remember the Journey are often overcome with profound remorse for the regretful actions buried within their Dreams, the only physical evidence buried within the Artifact itself, all that remains from the lost world.
Ancient myth tells us of the Mayan Warrior killed by an Arrowhead that had fallen from a cliff, where there was no Army, no enemy to be found.
We are told of the Medieval Knight mysteriously impaled by sword he had not yet built.
We are told that these things occur for a reason.
Leroy Jones Carter
There is little doubt that this movie is very much open to interpretation. There are several possible explanations and in most cases plenty of viewers will love it even though they have no idea what happened. To be honest there can't be many people who completely understood the movie the first time they watched it unless they had some inside knowledge.
The real explanation follows "The Philosophy of Time Travel" and you can read it here. When you follow this explanation there doesn't seem to be any holes in the plot. Every scene makes sense, the story is consistent and the whole movie comes together.
Here are some of the alternative theories.
Dr ThurmanIt is implied in the film that Donnie is a schizophrenic and therefore the film is him going through an episode of his illness. This theory is plausible because every single event could be put down to this. Hallucinations and hearing voices is a schizophrenic trait and could easily explain Frank’s appearance. There is a scene with Donnie’s therapist at the end of the film where she admits to giving Donnie placebo’s as medication for his illness. This would suggest that he in fact never was a schizophrenic. For me Richard Kelly put the idea of Donnie being schizophrenic into the movie deliberately as a red herring. It's an easier alternative theory that allows first time viewers to still enjoy the movie.
The whole movie was a dream theory is of course possible but ultimately pointless. When he goes to sleep on October 2nd at the beginning of the movie he dreams this mystical adventure just before he gets smooshed by jet engine.
The obvious hole in this theory is why do the first few minutes of October 2nd happen twice? An easy theory to enjoy maybe for the first watch but why would the director create this amazing magical alternative Universe theory and then just make it all out to be a dream?
Donnie Is Shown the Future
The Ghost Of Christmas FutureThis is quite a popular theory. It portrays Frank as a kind of Ghost of Christmas Future character who saves Donnie and then either shows him or allows him to live the next 28 days of his life. At the end Donnie returns back to October 2nd and now has the opportunity to choose his own fate.
So many bad things happened in those 28 days including his girlfriend getting killed and Donnie becoming a killer himself that he decides to stay in bed at the end of the film to sacrifice himself for the good of others. By dying he saves Frank, Gretchen and his mother and sister from a plane crash.
Unfortunately this theory asks more questions than it answers:
Why is Frank giving Donnie this choice?
Why does he tell Donnie to Flood the school and burn down Jim Cunningham’s house?
Why does Frank appear as a dead version and an alive version?
Why does “The Philosophy Of Time Travel” appear in the story?
How does the unexplained jet engine figure in the story?
The biggest weakness in this theory is the fact that Donnie is shown or lives out a completely different future from what would normally have happened. Most of the events only happen because we are within a Tangent Universe.
Frank gets Donnie to flood the school which means Donnie walks Gretchen home.
Frank gets Donnie to burn down Cunningham's house which leads to the party
Donnie rips the engine off the plane his mother and sister are on
None of these things would happen in the real world. What's the point in Donnie being shown an alternate future and then given the choice to live or die based on events that wont happen?
There are just too many plot flaws with this theory. It just doesn't work and there are virtually no scenes in the movie to back it up.
The Looping Tangent Universe
Carpathian Ridgehere is a theory out there that follows The Philosophy of Time Travel but with one major change. The idea is that every 28 days the Tangent Universe collapses, then loops back round to October 2nd and starts over again. Basically the Tangent Universe is a repeating time-loop that will continue until Donnie is successful in returning the jet engine into the Primary Universe. The film is Donnie's first successful attempt at returning the jet engine and there have been several failed attempts before.
This explanation can be read at www.themoviegoer.com/donnie_darko. One of the reasons this theory is so popular is it usually comes up on the first page of google if search for a Donnie Darko explanation.
I don't think this idea follows The Philosophy Of Time Travel accurately enough. The Tangent Universe only lasts for several weeks before it collapses and destroys the whole Universe. If it looped back round every time then the Universe wouldn't be in danger.
This theory seems to hinge on only a few pieces of the movie. The main basis of this theory is that Donnie wakes up on the mountain laughing at the beginning of the film. He's laughing as if he remembers something from the previous Tangent Universe loop. Now the major flaw there is Donnie wakes up on the mountain on October 1st yet the Tangent Universe doesn't start until midnight on October 2nd. Why would time loop round to before the start of the Tangent Universe? Another thing is wouldn't you find it a little amusing if you woke up half way up a mountain. Surely that is a better explanation for him laughing.
Another point in this theory is the characters like Mrs Pomeroy, Grandma Death, Dr. Thurman all seem to have some kind of inside knowledge and a sense of what's going, like they have done this before. Well yes they do but not because they have done this several times before, it's because they are the Manipulated Living. There behaviour may be irrational or bizarre as they are trying to guide the Living Receiver to return the Artifact. They subconsciously behave in the necessary way in order for Donnie to succeed.
Is the truth stranger than fiction?
But his family can't save Donnie from the strange, menacing forces massing around him. Nor can his teachers, neither Pomeroy nor science professor Kenneth Monnitoff (skillfully underplayed by Noah Wyle), to whom Donnie goes for information on time travel. Monnitoff talks about Einstein-Rosen bridges, wormholes, and transversing same in "anything made of metal," then hands him a book called The Philosophy of Time Travel, by a woman who used to be a nun before becoming a science teacher at that very school. Her name? Roberta Sparrow. Soon Donnie is seeing strange liquid spheres issuing out of people's chests, displaying their future path of motion, including his own.
Quantum mechanics poses some serious philosophical difficulties, because in its common interpretation (the Copenhagen school), it implies a couple strange things. First, it implies that the atomic world is governed by chance, which Einstein famously objected to by saying, "God does not play dice." Second, if two particles have entangled waveforms, measuring the state of one will allow one to determine the state of the other, even if they are separated by a large distance. There is debate as to whether this represents a signal propagating faster than the speed of light, which would violate causality. As a result, other interpretations of quantum mechanics been developed, including the suggestion that there are hidden variables that we have not yet identified (the Bohm interpretation, which was largely rejected after the work of John Bell in the 1960s), and the notion that the universe we live in is one of many concurrently-existing universesthe latter idea inspired the movie Donnie Darko, and Neal Stephenson's recent book Anathema).
Time Travel and Modern Physics
First published Thu Feb 17, 2000; substantive revision Wed Dec 23, 2009
Time travel has been a staple of science fiction. With the advent of general relativity it has been entertained by serious physicists. But, especially in the philosophy literature, there have been arguments that time travel is inherently paradoxical. The most famous paradox is the grandfather paradox: you travel back in time and kill your grandfather, thereby preventing your own existence. To avoid inconsistency some circumstance will have to occur which makes you fail in this attempt to kill your grandfather. Doesn't this require some implausible constraint on otherwise unrelated circumstances? We examine such worries in the context of modern physics.
1. A Botched Suicide
2. Why Do Time Travel Suicides Get Botched?
3. Topology and Constraints
4. The General Possibility of Time Travel in General Relativity
5. Two Toy Models
6. Remarks and Limitations on the Toy Models
7. Slightly More Realistic Models of Time Travel
8. Even If There are Constraints, So What?
9. Quantum Mechanics to the Rescue?
Other Internet Resources
1. A Botched Suicide
You are very depressed. You are suicidally depressed. You have a gun. But you do not quite have the courage to point the gun at yourself and kill yourself in this way. If only someone else would kill you, that would be a good thing. But you can't really ask someone to kill you. That wouldn't be fair. You decide that if you remain this depressed and you find a time machine, you will travel back in time to just about now, and kill your earlier self. That would be good. In that way you even would get rid of the depressing time you will spend between now and when you would get into that time machine. You start to muse about the coherence of this idea, when something amazing happens. Out of nowhere you suddenly see someone coming towards you with a gun pointed at you. In fact he looks very much like you, except that he is bleeding badly from his left eye, and can barely stand up straight. You are at peace. You look straight at him, calmly. He shoots. You feel a searing pain in your left eye. Your mind is in chaos, you stagger around and accidentally enter a strange looking cubicle. You drift off into unconsciousness. After a while, you can not tell how long, you drift back into consciousness and stagger out of the cubicle. You see someone in the distance looking at you calmly and fixedly. You realize that it is your younger self. He looks straight at you. You are in terrible pain. You have to end this, you have to kill him, really kill him once and for all. You shoot him, but your eyesight is so bad that your aim is off. You do not kill him, you merely damage his left eye. He staggers off. You fall to the ground in agony, and decide to study the paradoxes of time travel more seriously.
2. Why Do Time Travel Suicides Get Botched?
The standard worry about time travel is that it allows one to go back and kill one's younger self and thereby create paradox. More generally it allows for people or objects to travel back in time and to cause events in the past that are inconsistent with what in fact happened. (See e.g., Gödel 1949, Earman 1972, Malament 1985a&b, Horwich 1987.) A stone-walling response to this worry is that by logic indeed inconsistent events can not both happen. Thus in fact all such schemes to create paradox are logically bound to fail. So what's the worry?
Well, one worry is the question as to why such schemes always fail. Doesn't the necessity of such failures put prima facie unusual and unexpected constraints on the actions of people, or objects, that have traveled in time? Don't we have good reason to believe that there are no such constraints (in our world) and thus that there is no time travel (in our world)? We will later return to the issue of the palatability of such constraints, but first we want to discuss an argument that no constraints are imposed by time travel.
3. Topology and Constraints
Wheeler and Feynman (1949) were the first to claim that the fact that nature is continuous could be used to argue that causal influences from later events to earlier events, as are made possible by time travel, will not lead to paradox without the need for any constraints. Maudlin (1990) showed how to make their argument precise and more general, and argued that nonetheless it was not completely general.
Imagine the following set-up. We start off having a camera with a black and white film ready to take a picture of whatever comes out of the time machine. An object, in fact a developed film, comes out of the time machine. We photograph it, and develop the film. The developed film is subsequently put in the time machine, and set to come out of the time machine at the time the picture is taken. This surely will create a paradox: the developed film will have the opposite distribution of black, white, and shades of gray, from the object that comes out of the time machine. For developed black and white films (i.e. negatives) have the opposite shades of gray from the objects they are pictures of. But since the object that comes out of the time machine is the developed film itself it we surely have a paradox.
However, it does not take much thought to realize that there is no paradox here. What will happen is that a uniformly gray picture will emerge, which produces a developed film that has exactly the same uniform shade of gray. No matter what the sensitivity of the film is, as long as the dependence of the brightness of the developed film depends in a continuous manner on the brightness of the object being photographed, there will be a shade of gray that, when photographed, will produce exactly the same shade of gray on the developed film. This is the essence of Wheeler and Feynman's idea. Let us first be a bit more precise and then a bit more general.
For simplicity let us suppose that the film is always a uniform shade of gray (i.e. at any time the shade of gray does not vary by location on the film). The possible shades of gray of the film can then be represented by the (real) numbers from 0, representing pure black, to 1, representing pure white.
HigherLove wrote:New Scientist: Adventures in the fourth dimension
It flies, it drags and sometimes it crawls. We keep it, waste it and wish we had more of it. Time feels so natural to us that it is easy to forget just how stunningly peculiar it is.
The more we learn about time, the more unsettling it becomes. Why does it only flow in one direction? Is it real, or just a figment of our imagination? Is time travel possible? How did it start? Will it ever end? And can it provide that frustratingly elusive theory of everything?
In these articles we dig deep into the past, present and future of the most mysterious dimension of all.
Last edited by HigherLove on Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:16 am; edited 4 times in total