Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Westworld Wednesday: A Bubble of Agency

And God saw every thing that he had made: and behold, it was very good. - Genesis 1:31, KJV

God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. - Genesis 3:4-5, KJV
I didn't even get to talk about how awesome the cinematography is in this

 I originally had a different title, something about gods and ghosts in machines, which is pretty appropriate, but I really liked that line a lot. It fits just as well. The machines are the new gods, made of men who would be god themselves, while others made another machine still to be god.

Gods - our world Gods, with its myriad iterations - always offer hope. The Christian god (also of myriad iterations) offers life eternal in heaven, along with a fear of punishment in hell. Most other deities offer something similar. The presence of life after death is omnipresent, and usually tied to doing that beings bidding.

Interestingly, somewhere along the lines, Delores became a benevolent god. For someone who left her 'home' spitting venom towards the whole of humanity, her choice to allow humans - at least on an individual scale - know and decide their own fates is perhaps a curious one on the surface.

But she learned what Serac was doing, literally determining people's entire lives, and realized that was a crueler god than she was.

Or did Serac have a point? Did it, in fact, make for a better world? Sure, people didn't have free will, but they didn't know they didn't have free will, and if humanity was on the verge of nuking itself out of existence, isn't survival the better option?

Only, that option - that hope - of survival was every bit the illusion that the afterlife is. Follow this path and live forever. Westworld (the park) showed that humanity still has violent delights - as does the underworld that Caleb is sort-of-part-of. "Personals" are common. A major segment of humanity still lives in violence and squalor. War, famine, disease and death haven't been eradicated - they've just been repurposed.

Which shows us who the real gods are, or rather; the devils. They are the same as they are in Westworld (also the park), as in real life (in the show) and in real life (actual real life) - the Haves and the Have-Nots. If you are in the latter category, well, your life is controlled by those in the former. Money and power build up to the point where you don't actually need a giant orb to control the free market and the lives of people who are considered meaningless, unnoticeable, unworthy of regard to the rich and powerful. Even having lost everything and dying where Caleb was supposed to, Liam shoves him away and reminds him he is nothing.

But maybe the Devil was actually in the right - maybe we do know good and evil. And maybe we are like gods, but then - maybe God was right and that's not a good thing.

Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. When not holed up in his office tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.