Transcendence


Transcendence 

In a recent New Yorker we learned that many of those earning instant fortunes for their apps are feeling pretty guilty about it. It's pretty tough, they proclaim, to enjoy your millions when you're aware of just how hard and rewardless a life your own mother had to make due with. Specifically, though to make their apps they "borrowed office space and subsisted on a diet of instant ramen," though they knew "in the back of [their] heads […] [how] hard you worked, that you sacrificed your stability and you took on the risk of financial ruin for a long while," that "[y]ou did things that other people were not willing or capable of," it still "feels awful," for they "couldn't get rid of the image of [their] mothers in [their] cars, driving to work." The truth is, that if the only thing they had to contend with was the fact that their mothers had much harder lives, they've already amply contended with it as a source of guilt. For added to their belief that their mothers worked hard for them to live easier lives, would be how conceivably they've fit their sacrifice and gumption in creating the apps in with how society normally lauds and backs those who've achieved success -- endless hours and ramen noodles: no silver platter there! Stop your fretting and start enjoying your hard-earned money, son! So the reason some of them are even shutting down their apps so they can be spared the guilt of fifty thousand dollars daily accruing to them, is because they didn't so much intuit that their mothers deserved more in life but were thoroughly aware of it since birth: their mothers had them to provide them some of the love and devotion they hadn't yet received in life, and not only weren't much interested in them otherwise but couldn't help themselves from being angry when their children switched off them to focus on their own pursuits. Some success might somehow be justified -- but not a surfeit of it, for it'd feel nowhere within the vicinity of what should be lent to you after you'd been the good boy and seen to your mother first. To deal with that, you'd need a miracle to be spared the self-recriminations that'd accrue from it. You'd need transcendence.

Nominally, the transcendence we are to focus on in this movie is the one that brings a human consciousness -- it turns out sorta successfully -- into a machine. The human electrical / chemical that somehow begets consciousness can become the machine's purely electrical that miraculously accrues the same thing. But the movie clearly wouldn't have been interested if this transcendence hadn't involved a very powerful person and the magnification of already-held powers -- if, say, the first move from human consciousness into a machine involved a Gandhi type that'd shut itself down the very moment it realized it could even make Google its bitch. What the movie is really concerned with is how to transcend the guilt of being an enfranchised, empowered person; how to be at peace with the world as someone who's already powerful and isn't slowing down.

Most of the movie would have gone just the same if it proved a hunt for Johnny Depp's Will Caster, without regard for whether he'd been on the precipice of something egregiously transformative like putting a human soul into a machine. He's one of the leaders of technological advancements that magazines like "Wired" fete, and because he just won't stop, anarchists -- show-stoppers -- are now literally gunning for him. What transcendence -- the official one, man into machine -- does in the film is operate as the kind of theatricality and deception that failed to buy Batman time against the initiated Bane but which allows Caster time to readapt his current life elsewhere whilst trying to come up with something that might give him moral advantage over his persecutors. So he takes his life, which was one of riches and independent existence (he owned sole his multi-billions--dollars-worth of computers) and of being one of the few great minds, that was proving vulnerable, about to be beset and eradicated, elsewhere where for awhile it isn't -- specifically, into a decrepit desert town, that's got the cover of being some place something about our time is telling us we have to participate in making it realize how forlorn and lost to hope it is by never quite recognizing its presence.  And when the government, fellow scientists, and anarchists alike unite to hopefully bring him down, he doesn't allay the legitimacy of their crusade with all his wholesale healing of the townspeople -- because he's at the same time made them his troops -- but possibly could have if a bit more time was allotted his healing of world's ecosystems. Indeed, if the images we are shown of whole forests being healed, of pollutants wholesale removed from lakes, went a minute longer on screen, not only might more of us might have been converted to the side of machine-man hybrid Caster but we'd near expect the finish to involve some Earth-first anarchist group taking out the anti-technology one hunting him down.

If with this he'd been granted another reprieve, he might have reintroduced himself to the planet in his new physical avatar -- his duplicated previous physical body, proclaimed that if let be he'll simply be furthering his Earth-cleansing project, and the world might have let him just go for it. He'd join Bill and Melinda Gates out there, completely unharassed by the world, still in possession of billions but transcended all doubts and demons, which have simply slipped off him. That is, the great peace he experiences when he realizes it's time to slip off human concerns, when we see him as silicone dust levitating into a shrouding cloud, should be understood experientially as the same thing Bill Gates did when he dropped his post as head of Microsoft and became his current form as -- not a god, but an agent of Good, slipped off day to day errata and huge ego concerns. At peace to go about the world. Vaccinated to anything that would make us want to go out, target, and chew at him.





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