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Skeuromorph Detective pt. 5
by Julian Semilian (Continued from Cyber Corpse #5/6)

I never tire of using the creator as my target: he is fair game for a skeuromorph detective. This is why: the two gods I know of, whose tenuous fusion is the schizophrenia of western civilization, the Flood Plotter of the bible and Plato's, both created the world in their own image; ecce their creations: imitations of the gods themselves, yet in a cheaper material.
     According to Plato god made the world as a copy of an ideal world; for instance, if you had a chair and you sat in it, it would be only an imitation chair, an imperfect copy of coarse material which matches, but only imperfectly, the Ideal copy that only god can sit on. This hierarchy is incomprehensible in a democratic society, where everyone should have the opportunity to sit in the very best of chairs, each according to his or her taste in furniture. This idea of the Ideal chair is a disgrace, an unforgivable scandal: why should we walk around feeling inappropriate, inferior, incapable? Why should there be a chair which is always out of our reach?
     What I mean is, if we are going to have a god at all, why should we have to suffer even more on account of him? If we're going to have a god, he should be of value and benefit to us, no? I find this arrogance of god's demeaning: if it's not ok for us to be arrogant, why is it ok for him?
     The god of the bible made man in his own image. So the bible says. But, clearly then, there are a few different gods who made men, humans; perhaps all followed the patterns of making them in their own image, and then placed them on earth in their designated areas awaiting the development of trade and transportation so as to discover their differences and thus a good reason to despise each other; this is not our fault but the fault of the gods who designed us in their image, as a Jewish God would not have copied himself as a Chinese, nor a black god as a Jew, and so on. These gods clearly despised each other, but out of delicatesse perhaps they designed themselves as copies to fight out their differences; my friend John, who is in tenth grade and reads Nietzsche and Dante, e-mailed me the other day to inform me he's killing people on-line; he meant he was playing computer games with pre-designed heroes and anti-heroes, etc; perhaps we are on-line too, the on-line agendas of a few disgruntled gods who are using their copies to fight out their issues; don't laugh, this is easier than you think. The "Invention of Morel" by Bioy Casares presupposes a world, albeit a limited one, where the happy events of a few individuals vacationing on a resort island have been holographed and preserved inside a projection machine which at high tide causes these events to incessantly replay. What is perplexing, more, what is disconcerting in the story is the ease with which Morel extracts the souls of his friends, what animates them, and infuses them into the holographs. How casually the perceived becomes perceiver. How effortlessly the experiment becomes experiencer, a being infused with animation, with consciousness. "The thing that is latent in a phonograph record, the thing that is revealed when I press a button and turn on a machine - shouldn't we call that 'life'? Shall I insist," insists Morel, "like the mandarins of China, that every life depends on a button which an unknown being can press?" What is disconcerting is Bioy Casares' apparent nonchalance regarding this metamorphosis. I wished to question it further but in the prologue Borges claims that to "classify it (the plot) as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole." I don't wish to quarrel with Borges. Still, it continues to haunt me.
     Could it be, I reasoned, that John's on-line superheroes and villains are infused with consciousness as well? Do they too worship or resent John? (Or a combination of both worship and resentment?)
     Still, Bioy Casares (or Morel) was kind. He recorded only the pleasant events in his friends' lives. I wouldn't say the same about the entity we have been trained (duped, really) to call god, madman of Morel's sort only madder, less kind, who programmed us and then left us, so that we may never find our true source, with a faulty instruction manual (i.e., the bible, etc.).
     Plato said this cannot be a very good world; his spokesperson Socrates was glad to vacate it, even if it meant using hemlock, for an eternal vacation with the immortal gods, maybe the same ones who didn't do such a great job making us, or who are working out their problems through us, and who are perhaps tired of us and planning for a new breed, cyborgian in essence; an upgrade, if you will, with some of the bugs ironed out. Julian 5.1 is no longer out in the stores. Julian 6.0 is now all the rage, get it on-line from Anyway, we sincerely wish Socrates the very best on his journey. Meanwhile, the short-tempered, intransigent Bible god makes us recall Picasso's quip: I just put things in my paintings; it's up to them to get along.
     Yes, it could be that God realizing how badly he failed with us, abandoned his work like an artist giving up on a project. And what is to happen to us then? Borges speaks of a place where things forgotten simply disappear; maybe that's what Nietzsche meant when he said God is dead. We, abandoned children of the god or gods who left us, unable to transcend the limitations of the model he/them created, are forever stuck with the limitations of the software; no one around to come and create an updated version. Skeuromorphs are always made of a cheaper material than the original anyway. All that is left for us to do is go on destroying ourselves and each other, unable to improve upon the software we were originally endowed with.
     So then it's not so much a matter of we being forgiven by god, as we forgiving god. And considering what the bastard wrought, I doubt anyone will. It's not ever a matter of loving God, a pure and sincere desire to please him. If we could fearlessly peer at his behavior for these last few thousand years in the face, it would be a glare of contempt; it's really a matter of the fact that we're afraid of him, rather than a salivating need to worship him. (And this goes for you too, o masqueraders, o so sincere rehearsers in the brain of panegyrics to your bosses, it is not admiration but fear that propels you. You're only couching your salivating slavery in the cloying aromas of simulated doxologies.) As long as we feel that our lives are in his hands, that he can do anything he wants with us, such as for instance condemn us to eternal hell, but even more, what we're really frightened of is our businesses failing, our dates not showing up, worse, becoming candidates for Viagra, or sexual abuse by an unpleasant stranger. If suddenly, say, we captured god and caged him, put him on display behind bars in a zoo, if he suddenly were helpless, powerless, how many of us would still love him? If we could cage god in a zoo and put him on display, it would outsell any pilgrimage site; and if god were placed under guard, how many of us would risk life or limb to free him? I doubt if you could even find a lawyer to defend him pro-bono. I bet the religious right would be first to line up to cast the first stone. I for one am staking my bets on egg and tomato stands along the road to the cage: it would be only a matter of days before I get stinking rich.
     As my lids are about to close I pick up my copy of "Mysticism and the New Physics" by Michael Talbot as part of a campaign I'm on to study for five more minutes after I know I can go on reading no longer, and open it at random. I read: As Charles Muses puts it, 'We live in a projection world of solid neuro- "wired" holograms - a world of simulacra.' I think I'm really onto something and will slide into slumber without commenting any further on the propitiousness of chance encountering the name of the writer of the content in quotes.

                                                                                                                              to be continued...

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