Self and Cyborg
August 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
Sometimes, I love to daydream about what it means to be well…me.
Each person is unique not only in terms of appearance, but in personality and thought patterns. We each embody a set of memories that were produced from our own experiences, and we carry these memories throughout our lives. I enjoy, however, mulling over the somewhat terrifying idea that science and technology may compromise this uniqueness that we treasure.
I remember taking a freshman writing seminar entitled “Self and Cyborg in Japanese Animation.” We watched one of the classics, Ghost in the Shell by director Mamoru Oishii, which tells a story of a cyborg cop chasing down a criminal hacker named the Puppet Master. After seeing the spectacularly animated opening scene (see below), one of my favorite scenes seems somewhat trivial. The main character and female cyborg cop, Motoko Kusanagi, rides on a barge in the middle of the city. She looks up and catches a glimpse of another woman, sitting in a coffee shop. The woman looks entirely identical to herself. Because Kusanagi was so convincingly human, I almost forgot that the exact model of her body could be bought by almost anybody. This one scene sends shivers down my spine, because I can feel all of Kusanagi’s fear and acceptance when they meet eyes. There was a similar moment in Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy,” when Dave mentions that he bought Helen’s body at Dillard’s. I couldn’t help wondering how awful would it be if I found my face for sale at the Dollar Store.
I realize that we can’t exactly shed our skins, but technology has definitely made it possible for us to change our appearance. Whether it is from plastic surgery or makeup, we can now choose to take on a completely different look. Even our personalities can be altered through the use of therapeutic drugs for mental illnesses. Technology has begun to commercialize humans.
Opening Sequence from Ghost in the Shell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBqGC9sVBXY