'Dark', Nietzsche and the wormholes: the philosophy and science behind the great success of Netflix

'Dark', Nietzsche and the wormholes: the philosophy and science behind the great success of Netflix.

For some time we have seen the popularity of the most complex and dark series grow. 

It is not that they did not exist before, as shown, for example, by 'Twin Peaks' or 'Carnivale', but their popularity seems to have been growing with the emergence of social networks, streaming and the Internet in general by bringing people closer to a greater and deeper knowledge not only of the series available, but also of how to interpret them. 

What are they trying to tell us, beyond how strange or incomprehensible they may seem at first glance.

This is the case of 'Dark'. A series created by Baran bo Odar, director and screenwriter, and Jantje Fiese, producer, the first German series produced for Netflix, released in December 2017. 

In any case, the success of its first two seasons was discreet until this year, with The announcement of the third season has become one of the most viewed series on the platform. Reason more than enough for us to want to delve into it, which also means that from here there are spoilers.

First of all: what is 'Dark' about?

With three seasons to its credit, made up of 26 episodes in total, 'Dark' is a science fiction series with not a few doses of drama and suspense that takes place in the fictional German town of Winden during the year 2019, where the disappearance of a child will make suspicions and old quarrels come to light among the villagers. 

Especially with regard to four families whose destinies have been tied for many years: the Tiedemann, the Kahnwald, the Doppler and the Nielsen. 

Something that will become especially evident when another child, Miekkel, the youngest son of the Nielsen family, disappears without a trace, making it evident that the first disappearance could not be the result of the mere accident.

Although so far it is another mystery series with a classic and little novel conflict, the need to emphasize the year in which the series passes, and that we have said that it is limited to the science fiction genre, can give us a clue of what there is something different about it. 

And it is that in the town of Winden there is something even stranger than the disappearances of children, and that is that there are some labyrinthine caves outside the town that connect different times in increments of 33 years.

This will make the series oscillate between different years, times and family members getting to know each other at different times in their lives. 

In the first season going from 1953 to 2052, reaching in the third season up to three centuries ago, adding travel between parallel worlds to the equation, the central point of the series is not so much despair as time travel itself. 

How the events that occur at one time are only part of very long, confusing and strange family relationships that occur at the same time, even if the bulk of them span more than a century.

The consequences of time travel

In that sense, and as is evident, the most interesting philosophical aspect of 'Dark' is the consequences of time travel. 

With many relationships occurring between extemporaneous subjects, with family members who are their own grandparents, it is logical to think that this leads us, even before delving into other problems, into a more basic one, how does all this fit with our conception of time?

For us, time is linear. As we have already said, even though everything spans a century, all events are happening at the same time, which may sound like something impossible. 

After all, time happens in an order of chance. Another thing happens to one thing, so everything that happens will be due to a previous effect and everything that has happened will also have an effect on the rest of things. 

This is the essential premise of our conception of time. That what has been done cannot be undone and that the past is something fixed, that we can only live in the present and affect the future. But physics, at least as far as the theoretical is concerned, has a markedly different opinion.

A premise in which it is impossible to understand the cause and effect of anything

Now, the interesting thing about his conception of time is that it is not linear. Unlike what we think, time, in 'Dark', is a circular constant. 

Something that is cyclically repeated and connected in such a way that it is impossible to understand what is the cause and what is the effect of any given event.

This in the series is developed through various symbols repeated throughout the footage. The references to labyrinths, to number 33 and the obsession with trisquel, a symbol of three united spirals that symbolize the trinity that suppose past, present and future, are a constant that can be found throughout the series, hiding fully view your main topic.

The idea that everything that exists is reduced to a perpetual repetition of exactly the same events in the same sequence, making it impossible to do anything different from what has already been done, because, in fact, what will happen has already happened and what happened It is about to happen, because the ideas of the future and the past are an artificial creation, since there is only a perpetual present. 

Something difficult to visualize since, as we have pointed out before, it directly attacks our own natural conception of time.

If we consider time to be non-linear, there is no problem with changing the future or the present by our actions in the past: as long as they occur at the same time, a cause for an effect is not being altered. 

That is, in 'Dark' the principle of self-consistency is fulfilled because, in fact, it does not apply. The past is not something that can be changed, because the past is something that is happening now.

The eternal return of Nietzsche as a great protagonist

On this, in regards to philosophy understood as quotes to illustrious philosophers, the series has a clear winning horse: Friedrich Nietzsche. 

Although he is quoted several times in several different forms, what is mainly spoken of is his idea of ​​the eternal return, which he would deal with both in 'Thus spoke Zarathustra', in a more allegorical way, and in 'The Gay Science', of a little bit more concrete.

After all, also from Nietzsche inherits the obsession with a particular Greek myth, of which he even wrote a poem: that of Theseus and Ariadne. That is, the myth of the minotaur's labyrinth .

All this is treated in the series always from the same idea. That time is circular, that we live in a determinism that we cannot break. This is associated with the myth of the minotaur in unsubtle ways.

To travel through time you have to navigate the labyrinth of caves, the symbolism of labyrinths is everywhere spread by the series and even Martha, in the first season, represents the role of Ariadna in the function of the school where she comes to summarize everything the theme of the series when saying that, even when the ties are cut from the thread that unites the lovers, they are tied by an invisible link. An inevitability that makes it impossible to cease to exist what once existed.

That is surely the most valuable of the series. That behind philosophical and scientific complexes, a complex and sometimes confusing narrative, there is a human heart. 

A governing theme that is, ultimately, about how we experience the world and how, even if we try to break with reality, we cannot flee from our past. Of what has already happened. Because ultimately, even if time is circular, we can't help but perceive it as a straight line where we always live in the present.

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