I’ve been slowly reading Time’s article on the Singularity as I mentioned in last week’s post. I thought there would be more details on the Singularity but the article shifts to issues of longevity and human health. I haven’t fully explored the article yet but that shift didn’t have a lot of new information in it. The idea of technology leading human beings to immortality has been around for at least a decade in theoretical practice and for quite a while longer in pure theory.
I’ve been trying to imagine what it would be like to have no need for a written text. This is simple enough in many ways, but I do get stuck with literature; will we really have no need for literature because we can “enter” a text via a full sensory experience of it? The thing of it is, if we enter a text as a full sensory experience, we are being given what all the experiences are and, so far as I am able to conceive of it, what these experiences mean and how they should feel. There’s a different kind of ambiguity and complexity in a book; we don’t always know what a book means or how it should feel, and this is one of the factors that can give a work of literature artistic longevity. A film can do the same thing, and so it would seem that a text presented as a “lived object” should as well. Still, I can’t help but think my sense of the ambiguous, the complex, and things nuanced is deeper from a book. Great literature travels as far as the mind can carry it, and that journey changes as people change.
Maybe my problem is Hollywood has become so money driven (just like the publishing business) that it’s hard to imagine a full sensory experience outside the 2 dimensional linear plots Hollywood has been churning out. No I haven’t seen Black Swan.
Another problem I am having is I think genre-related. I can’t imagine the full presence of something like Kawabata’s House of the Sleeping Beautiesencapsulated as a lived sensory experience. If the author-originator weren’t trying to translate a book into a fully lived sensory experience it might work better.
The movie-goers in Huxley’s Brave New World are probably relevant here: they enter the theater, choose a seat, place their hand on a pad, and then experience themselves as one of the characters in the movie being projected on the screen.
Alright, I think I can swing this: what if lived movies (for lack of a better term) gave us emotional feelings and experiences that didn’t make sense in a given situation? What if we were given the experience of a schizophrenic—I mean actually lived it? What if we became the main character in Black Swan, or at least somehow became a part of her mind? The witness to the author’s presentation (audience/reader) is given a backseat in a character’s mind or several characters for that matter. We aren’t allowed commentary or to change things (or maybe we are), but we are allowed to witness and live the thoughts etc. of the character.
Could we do this for a Buddha figure? I sure would like to experience what my Master experiences when she meditates. I very much doubt a machine could do that—maybe at a literal level but as has been said many times in spiritual circles, there is a limit to what the brain can comprehend and these upper level experiences simply don’t register with the brain. They are too subtle.
I think I have convinced myself that a full sensory experience (lived movie) could be a viable and perhaps even more profound artistic genre than a great work of literature. It’s also easy to imagine there will be some people who insist on writing and dealing with words through the physicality of a manuscript-book. But as the generations pass, I’m not sure these people can or will endure. I keep thinking of Spielberg’s “computer-machine-people” at the end of A.I. who sort of revive and adopt the child robot David at the end of the movie. Are these computer-machine-people what the human race is destined to become? A.I. is a good movie but it’s hard to watch because of what it says about love and human suffering. If you haven’t seen A.I. it’s worth watching but brace yourself.