Slobodan Škerović

Eros and Science Fiction – a Revelation of a Myth

Science fiction is basically the setting up of certain circumstances, usually emphasizing the technological factor, and the relation between humans and said environment. Technology, as a direct product of science, is an expression of an ultimate intent, which by scientific method, should influence and change humankind.

What man has to parry science; that is, its hardened face - technology, is his spirituality which, of course, suffers in that relationship. That is also the basic moment of drama in this literary genre.

The genre definition of SF lost its sustenance long time ago. Science fiction was mostly – scientism, a wish to introduce new parameters into the poetical, new realities, especially scientific ones, and, with help of imagination and speculation, to examine an infinite number of possible experiences, so SF could, in large measure, serve as a map or the anticipation of the Big Uncertain coming to meet us.

In this sense, SF still retains that role, despite the fact that due to the actualization of many of its propositions it stopped being a fantasy. Science still dreams of new technologies, and SF tries to guess possible outcomes.

But, in this hour, another moment appears, that is, it becomes more pronounced. Contemporary SF questions the very scientific method, doubts arise that it has not been adequately defined or applied, i.e. certain, very important, faults have been spotted.

SF has always emphasized the ethical moment, while in real science it has rarely been represented, sometimes completely neglected. That was a frequent occurrence, but now it has become a priority because science itself, is being revised: that is, what is the real motive of science? Does it have one at all?

We can already see, and even anticipate, all the incoming reaction to the disgusting, mad “advancement” which totally destroys human beings’ ability to be whole. Science is much more, and for a long time, in service of state and its more and more obscure institutions, which do their business by the principle “our survival is more important than any individual”. Description of such a survivalism has been given in numerous SF works, from its beginnings until today, under a common denominator: anti-utopia.

What is the role of science in the anti-utopia and can SF find an acceptable solution at all?

In the myth of Eros and Psyche, Eros represents human society or humanity, while Psyche, credulous and content, represents the individual, in whose name, allegedly, everything is being done.

But secret, erotic mechanisms of humanity ominously pulsate from the dark, and the anyone who tries to shed some light on them, gets savagely punished.

Corporeal, emotional and rational articulation of the human being disables unity of mind, which is the only state in which one is capable of understanding the motivation of such a monstrous mythological mechanism. This unconscious, disunified being survives, because of its inability to see itself, and worse, because of the embedded autoimmune mechanism which attacks any alien body which brings a blaze into the dark.

It is interesting to observe how this myth got degenerated. The source of the myth of Eros and Psyche is, of course, Apollonian, its true solution is in the formula of “Know Thyself”. This knowing of self is the condition of realized human essence, and it is most surely of a spiritual, rather than corporeal, nature.

Science Fiction, which often, perhaps too often, calls upon myths, alone cannot always understand the necessity of such a Gnostic transformation of material into spiritual, so it often gets stuck within a utopian compromise in which the social acts for the spiritual self.

One of the best known SF franchises Star Trek, offers an unusual, but also a very interesting solution. In the utopian society of Star Trek, exploitation of men by men has been resolved by submission of mankind to Vulcan philosophy of “pure logic” at the expense of emotions, and by the technological miracle of “replicators”, which in reality fully replaces our contemporary concept of consumers’ (postmodern) economy.

We’ve seen, in various Star Trek episodes, situations which bring to attention the ethical moment (with the exception of Enterprise, which was influenced by daily politics), and that is surely what made Star Trek into a great and important cultural, even philosophical phenomenon.

One of the most important ideological hard points, especially in the Next Generation and Voyager, is a “principle” expressed as a concept of the “primary directive”, which forbids any kind of interference with “other cultures” in order to avoid any unwanted, damaging reaction. This is really synonymous with “scientific objectivity” such as those when scientists “objectively” observe “lions” devouring their game, and it never occurs to them to intervene and prevent the crime.

The SF series Dark Angel (2000), although essentially repeating a known situation, sets action into a near and “apocalyptic” future, in which “depression” prevails, savagely ruled by an institution well known to us all – the state, with its characteristic mode of life: the feeling of being threatened.

All essential activities of the state are hidden from the public and have absolutely no connection with its “subjects” – in this series – and we will give this a serious thought – each individual is “expendable” depending on its “usage value”.

I point out Dark Angel because it was the last series which openly showed human society as a postmodern phenomenon (we have, though, already seen this in Blade Runner, and Phillip K. Dick was probably the first to fully describe the postmodern cadaver, similar to Huxley in his Brave New World). In the postmodern environment, Eros himself shows his face, as he is not waiting for curious Psyche to turn on the lights. “Care for others”, indigenous to Eros, is actually totalitarianism; a total negation of freedom and a total lack of any kind of compassion or empathy.

The basis of the myth of Eros and Psyche is “trust” – translated into reality: when trust between the “subjects of authority” and the “authority” is gone, depression, or more accurately, terror, ensues. Authority starves its subjects by insisting on the “constant” of social order: that everyone must “earn his living”. But those who can’t trust their own Eros any more, their “source of love and pleasure”, don’t “deserve” to live (this comes straight from Hitler’s mouth).

Science Fiction has moved to a large extent onto the movie screen: it is hard not to see – both science and fantasy, together or alone, contribute to the creation of an image of reality which is, freely stated – disgusting. The place of mankind in such a reality is unenviable.

Although such SF, in accordance with postmodern principles, is offered as “fun”, as a consumable good, by the action-reaction principle, it most certainly defines the reality of man. Man is being wasted by consuming the offered stock. Human ability to understand is being replaced by a “vision” which is mostly a description, and minimally an explanation. All that contemporary production of SF does is to condition consumers to identify with the contents of the pointless and hopeless destruction.

The paralysis which engrosses humanity is the basic motive of any serious contemporary SF endeavor. Science is, (which by now must be absolutely clear) in service of totalitarian system. Any scientific achievement is above all a state secret and finds its first application in the military and political spheres. Nobody ever talks about science creating a miracle ensuring welfare to all humanity. Today it only serves to improve the means of ruling – “security”.

Eros, thus seen, has a very dark face - his speech is fraudulent, his hands are bloody.

And Psyche, stunned by fear, tries to hide from her betrayed “lover” in dirty slums where she slowly withers, dejected and hopeless.

So what has been left from Science Fiction as a specific artistic genre? Can it breach the limits of the all embracing myth? How to replace the vision-reality of a dungeon with freedom? Maybe by returning to its primeval themes, the utopias of the perfection of love and care? But, the problem is that contemporary art has become a consumer commodity, and such a commodity, being sheer fantasy, nobody would ever buy.

Conversely, should it become a saboteur and infiltrate the global network and try, undiscovered, to point out the source of evil? Should it move into the unconscious and from there, attempting to stay undercover as some new, unspoiled Eros, offer salvation to a dead Psyche?

But, in the world of Bradburian Fahrenheit, even that minute possibility may not exist.

So, has the moment come to take a step out from this exhausted human form into some other, innocent being, into some unspoiled world in which there is a different way to “deserve” living?

Can SF, just for a moment, step out from the scary descriptions and point out, heretofore overlooked possibilities?

Dark Angel speculates with supernatural abilities and tries to resolve the conflict within the domain of corporeality, trying to reach a compromise between ethical and structural. This is nothing new, it can be found in Don Quixote and other, subsequent, masterpieces of world literature. After World War II, in which totalitarianism had been defeated by its own means, it was long been believed, and still echoes today, that it is still possible to realize a society, “democratic society”, which can deploy abstract, spiritual principles into life.

Unfortunately, we are all witnesses that this has no basis in reality.

Will art, and within it Science Fiction, gather enough strength to see some new, unexpected solution? Will arcology-towers, anticipated in Egyptian pyramids, become grandiose tombs of humanity?

Or will Nikola Tesla, maybe, come back, and once and for all open the way into the energy field of Space Ray?

На Растку објављено: 2008-03-05
Датум последње измене: 2008-03-05 18:28:08
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