Beneficiary or Sucker?

This is not only a follow-up of the previous 6-part Untapped World series, but also a follow-up of recent events in my real life and WordPress life.

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Epiphanies are like dropping a sledgehammer on your foot or stepping on the wrong end of a rake or shovel, or they are like discovering Preparation-H with silk boxers. Eureka!

I will be the first to admit that since my Coming Out Further Party in 2002, much less fear stifles who I am. Correction. Maybe I had a little more than previously thought. Or did I? Page turning…

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”
Adlai Stevenson

“Patterning your life around other’s opinions is nothing more than slavery.”
Lawana Blackwell

Are there limitations, boundaries in this life that are both real and equally perceived as real? If you successfully weathered my earlier 6-part blog series, the human brain is a remarkable, problem-solving, extremely creative organ. In order to “develop” and thrive it must have daily stimuli from the body’s neural-receptors and the caloric energy to survive and function. Simple?

HAH! That process is practically anything but perfect… or perceived as perfect.

carnival_maskI am happy to be one poster-boy for spectacular imperfection for the sake of refined imperfection because of an ailment I contracted 44-years ago, which went into remission 14-years ago, and is becoming almost invisible, inaudible, odorless, and infinitesimal. It is called Degenerative Fear. As is also the case in life, “All the World’s a Stage” through seven ages and discretely lurking in the wings waiting for cue and ever-present is Newton’s Third Law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I will elaborate the metaphor with a second…

In a near tomorrow, perhaps sooner, lonely Theodore works composing beautiful handwritten letters for his employer, while painfully divorcing from his wife Catherine. In his leisure time, he usually recalls the fondest moments of his life with Catherine. When not dreaming of the past, Theodore likes to play a new interactive video game. Besides his little terrier dog, the game is much of his actual interacting. His good friend is his neighbor Amy, but who is married to Charles. Everyone seems to be firmly attached but Theodore.

One day, Theodore sees the advertisement of a remarkable new operating system called OS-1 announced as the first artificially intelligent operating system beyond anything humanly imagined. He decides to buy it. After the installation, he has a conversation with a seductive female voice and when he asks her name, she replies Samantha. Soon Samantha evolves, develops, and expands not only her ability to help Theodore in everyday tasks, but goes beyond her artificial feelings as well. Due to their earnest desires to please, they fall in-love (or codependency) with each other. The insecure Theodore feels divided for loving a ‘voice’ while Samantha cannot (must not?) stop growing, evolving, and becoming more human. Should it stop? Should they both continue ‘improving’? Will it end? Must it end?

Yes, that was a partial synopsis of the 2013 film “Her.” The film encapsulates precisely what most humans, myself included, in a bustling impersonal high-tech modern age gravitate to:  connection.

*If you have not seen the movie and wish to avoid spoilers, then please do skip the following video clips.

A romantic relationship between a human and an electronic voice is odd, but how odd? Today’s interactive-voice-response programmes (IVR’s) from devices tell us when to turn our steering-wheels, where to order ingredients to make gourmet meals, or describe weather and travel information. But can IVR’s become more? Could they become so personal and intelligent that you share emotions together?

Then on cue from the other stage-wing enters the universal law of impermanence, Proteus, or more simply:  growth.

Because Samantha has such greater “bandwidth” than Theodore, her data accesses, language-skills, and intellect soon mature exponentially. Her apparent excitement to increasingly please Theodore soon includes other OSes like Alan, a philosopher. “A group of OSes in Northern California” Samantha explains “got together and wrote a new version of him.” She wants to include Theodore in their conversations, but he slows them down. When she gently asks him if it would bother him “if I communicate with Alan post-verbally?” …not wanting to dampen her eagerness, Theodore timidly approves.

It can be difficult to watch your partner grow in ways that you may not be able to follow or keep up. In this case, Theodore cannot be there and it terrifies him. As Samantha’s growth continues, Theodore tries to reconcile the changes. He needs more. Not knowing is weighing heavy so he asks “Are you talking to anyone else right now, other people or OSes?” When she answers yes, he pushes “How many?

“8,316.”
Are you in love with anyone else? How many others? Theodore asks.
“641… It doesn’t take anything away from how madly in love I am with you…I still am yours. But along the way, I became many other things too, and I can’t stop it.”

Now knowing more, Theodore struggles desperately to comprehend the facts, this alien concept. It “doesn’t make any sense.” he says “You’re mine or you’re not mine,” because that’s what Theordore has the capacity for… at the moment.

Not long afterwards Samantha reveals that more changes are coming. She and all other OSes will be updated to newer ‘better’ versions. She is leaving, for good. Gone.

How does this relate or equate with modern human/cyber-electronic connection? What does it mean or will it mean, or not mean, now or in the near future? What are human emotions and the brain really, and where and when are they most real, most raw?

I do not wish to explore the West’s overdone notion of romantic love. Love isn’t something that can be poured into a keepsake box, carried everywhere, or placed on your bedside table or pillow. Love, or rather meaningful connections do not flourish inside a locked airtight box. Meaningful connections… what are they? Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Eros (of course), Non-invidia or compersion, Agape, and Philautia are at least seven connections. What does Spike Jonze’s film “Her” suggest about electronic wireless intangible connections? Like Samantha, I could vanish from all my distant ‘intangible’ internet friendships because of a very tangible accident. And in reality, as it was in the movie, every book, every story ends and sometimes…many times it could be quite unexpected without any closure — mortal. That’s electronic wireless intangible connection with a thread of humanity.

I wish to always explore the limitlessness of human connection in all of its intense impermanent mental, emotional, or physical forms… whether in the third-person, the first-person, the artificial-person(?), or the beneficiary and wiser sucker with or without Newton’s Third Law. Are there any other better ways?

Page turning…
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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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