The Hour-Hand of Life: Life consists of rare, isolated moments of the greatest significance, and of innumerably many intervals, during which at best the silhouettes of those moments hover about us. Love, springtime, every beautiful melody, mountains, the moon, the sea – all these speak completely to the heart but once, if in fact they ever do get a chance to speak completely. For many men do not have those moments at all, and are themselves intervals and intermissions in the symphony of real life. Nietzsche, Friedrich (1878) Aphorisms on Love and Hate (excerpts from Human, All Too Human)
It is with great struggle that we pursue an honest and altruistic meaning for our lives within this world. We strive towards greatness, dreaming of feelings of elation. Heavy hearts are drowned in the sorrows, exile and loneliness of intimate human connection; connections that drift further and further apart.
A soul divided, gasping for air, fighting to survive. We watch in desperation as human flesh is devoured by itself; ever consuming. Driven by unnatural systems, we try to conform, shedding humanity with every outwards step.
Our screams are fleeting in the cold night; echoes of future past. fearing. frozen. empty.
We wait for our final emancipation, longing, praying, to escape. To be liberated from ourselves.
While I have always been a fan of Neill Blomkamps previous work (District 9, Elysium), his latest movie, CHAPPiE, takes good cinema and story telling alot futher. The themes present within CHAPPiE and the questions it asks are refreshing in amongst the formulaic and predictable cinema that exists today.
Most of society believes our species is the only one that matters, the only one worth existing, superior to everything else. We struggle with anything different; a xenophobia that throughout history has struggled with race, religion and sexuality. We consider ourselves unique and superior as a result of an unfounded belief that we are the only species with consciousness. If anything threatens this idea, we wage wars and enforce servitude for the purpose of dominance and superiority.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau points out in the opening of The Social Contract, ‘Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’, which only emphases the restriction that learnt behaviour has in comparison to natural instinct. As highlighted within the frames of CHAPPiE, the innate behaviour is to care for all living existence, not destroy it. Throughout the story the only imposition of violence on others is for superiority and dominance, carried out by those who have only known violence. CHAPPiE successfully explores the idea that violence is learnt behaviour, with his innocence corrupted by humanity and its superiority complex.
Most cinema that introduces artificial intelligence does so with the view that it will cause the end of human existence, while Blomkamp does the opposite, making the statement that the biggest threat to human existence is a degraded state of humanity. We shouldn’t be fearful of others, we should be fearful of ourselves.
One of the more compelling scenes within the movie is where Deon is having a personal conversation with Chappie, who is resting with his back against the wall exhibiting human body language. As Chappie develops throughout the story, you begin to care for him, you get worried, you feel for him. If you didn’t feel these things you need to take a strong hard look at your humanity and your empathy.
On days like today, days that everyone has from time to time, we need some light to ease the dark settling into our lungs …
… Sarah Kay and spoken word poetry is always a good place to start.
We have to admit that the greatest evils which oppress civilized nations are the result of war – not so much of actual wars in the past or present as of the unremitting, indeed ever-increasing preparation for war in the future. All the resources of the state, and all the fruits of its culture which might be used to enhance that culture even further, are devoted to this purpose. Freedom suffers greatly in numerous areas, and the state’s maternal care for its individual members is replaced by demands of implacable harshness (even if this harshness is justified by fear of external threats). But if the constant fear of war did not compel even heads of state to show this respect for humanity, would we still encounter the same culture, or that close association of the social classes within the commonwealth which promotes the well-being of all? Would we still encounter the same population, or even that degree of freedom which is still present in spite of highly restrictive laws?Kant, Immanuel (1786) Conjectures on the Beginning of Human History
It would be understandable for a people to say: ‘There shall be no war between us; for we will form ourselves into a sate, appointing for ourselves a supreme legislative executive and juridical power to resolve our conflicts by peaceful means.’ But if this state says: ‘There shall be no war between myself and other states, although I do not recognize any supreme legislative power which could secure my rights and whose rights I should in turn secure’, it is impossible to understand what justification I can have for placing any confidence in my rights, unless I can rely on some substitute for the union of civil society, i.e. on a free federation. If the concept of international right is to retain any meaning at all, reason must necessarily couple it with a federation of this kind.
The concept of international right becomes meaningless if interpreted as a right to go to war. For this would make it a right to determine what is lawful not by a means of universally valid external laws, but by means of one-sided maxims backed up by physical force. It could be taken to mean that it is perfectly just for men who adopt this attitude to destroy one another, and thus to find perpetual peace in the vast grave where all the horrors and violence and those responsible for them would be buried.Kant, Immanuel (1795) Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch
Each must try to establish his assertions by a transcendental deduction of the grounds of proof employed in his argument, and thus enable us to see in what way the claims of reason may be supported. If an opponent bases his assertions upon subjective grounds, he may be refuted with ease; not, however to the advantage of the dogmatist, who likewise depends upon subjective sources of cognition, and is in like manner driven into a corner by his opponent. But, if parties employ the direct method of procedure, they will soon discover the difficulty, nay, the impossibility of proving their assertions, and will be forced to appeal to prescription and precedence; or they will, by the help of criticism, discover with ease the dogmatical illusions by which they had been mocked, and compel reason to renounce its exaggerated pretensions to speculative insight, and to confine itself within the limits of its proper sphere—that of practical principles.Kant, Immanuel (1781) Critique of Pure Reason
This reference to (material) production is pivotal today, in the context of the ongoing digitalization of our lives. We live in the midst of an arduous revolution in the ‘forces of production’, whose much-publicized tangible effects (new and newer gadgets invading our lives) overshadow its much more far-reaching repercussions. The true question apropos of cyberspace and Virtual Reality is not ‘What happens to our experience of reality?’ but, rather:’How does the interposition of the World Wide Web affect the status of inter subjectivity?’ The true ‘horror’ of cyberspace is not that we are interacting with virtual entities as if they were human – treating virtual non-persons as real persons, but rather, the opposite: in our very interaction with ‘real’ persons, who are more and more accessible only through their stand-ins in cyberspace, we are treating ‘real’ persons are virtual entities that can be harassed and slaughtered with impunity, since we interact with them only in Virtual Reality.Žižek, Slavoj (2001) Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?
The mistake of melancholy, however, is not simply to assert that something resists symbolic ‘sublation’ but, rather, to locate this resistance in a positively existing, albeit lost, object. In Kant’s terms, the melancholic is guilt of committing a kind of ‘paralogism of the pure capacity to desire’, which lies in the confusion between loss and lack: in so far as the object-cause of desire is originally, in a constitutive way, lacking, melancholy interprets this lack as loss, as if the object lacking were once possessed and then lost. In short, what melancholy obfuscates is the fact that the object is lacking from the very beginning, that its emergence coincides with its lack, that this object is nothing but the positivization of a void/lack, a purely anamorphic entity which does not exist ‘in itself’. The paradox, of course, is that this deceitful translation of lack into loss enables us to assert our possession of the object: what we never possessed can also never be lost, so the melancholic, in his unconditional fixation on the lost object, in a way possesses it in its very loss.Žižek, Slavoj (2001) Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?, Verso, pg 143
Despair is the sickness unto death in another and still more definite sense. For there is not the remotest possibility of dying of this sickness in the straightforward sense, or of this sickness ending in physical death. On the contrary, the torment of despair is precisely the inability to die. Thus to be sick unto death is to be unable to die, yet not as though there were hope of life. No, the hopelessness is that even the last hope, death, is gone. When death is the greatest danger, one hopes for life. But when one learns to know the even more horrifying danger, one hopes for death. When the danger is so great that death has become the hope, then despair is the hopelessness of not even being able to die.Kierkegaard, Søren (1849) The Sickness Unto Death