Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Secret of NIMH (1982)


An excerpt of a review recently posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
“In the beginning,” Nicodemus recalls, “we were ordinary street rats, stealing our daily bread and living off the efforts of man’s work.” Since that time, they have been given the gift of intelligence, received at the hands of the men of NIMH. But with that intelligence came the awareness that certain actions, even if beneficial to the actor, are wrong. As long as the rats continue to steal, they will only ever be smart rats. If they want to be something more, something nobler, they must be not merely intelligent but moral. It is not intelligence or self-awareness that makes a man, but honor and integrity and right living—using that intelligence to learn about and conform to morality. Nicodemus wants to lead the rats to a new, moral life, where they live not as the rats they were, but as the men they can be. 
Jenner, on the other hand, is more than happy to use his intelligence for his own self-interest with no regard for right, wrong, or the interests of others. He is happy to continue stealing from Farmer Fitzgibbons as long as it benefits him, and is even willing to escalate to murder if anyone stands in the way of those benefits. His intelligence thus functions as little more than a kind of elevated animal cunning, and he remains a rat. Because the intelligence of Nicodemus and his followers leads to moral knowledge, and because they submit their intelligence to conscience and in fact put it to work for conscience, they become something more than rats. They are men.
Full review available here.

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