Still Primitive

March 26, 2012

“Ella, pretty and light-skinned; her eyes, in the days when they had been open, had been bright and luminous blue. That would not again occur; he could talk to her and hear her answer; he could communicate with her…but he would never again see her with eyes opened; nor would her mouth move. She would not smile at his arrival. When he departed she would not cry. Is this worth it? He asked himself. Is this better than the hold way, the direct road from full-life to the grave? I still do have her with me, in a sense, he decided. The alternative is nothing.
In the earphone words, slow and uncertain, formed: circular thoughts of no importance, fragments of the mysterious dream which she now dwelt in. How did it feel, he wondered, to be in half-life? He could never fathom it from what Ella had told him; the basis of it, the experience of it, couldn’t really be transmitted. Gravity, she had told him, once; it begins not to affect you and you float, more and more. When half-life is over, she had said, I think you float out of the System, out into the stars. But she did not know either; she only wondered and conjectured.” (Dick 12)

This passage deals with the technology of half-life in the novel, wherein dead people are frozen and inert, but their minds are still able to understand and communicate with the living. It is in this state that Glen Runciter meets his wife, Ella, for a business meeting of sorts. Glen is greatly affected by the fact that Ella cannot physically move or show emotion, as this part of her is dead. He then decides that this type of living is better than her being fully dead, because then she would be totally gone.
Another aspect of Glen’s relationship with the half-life Ella is his inability to understand this state of half-life as he is not in it. He can only take what Ella tells him about it and think it to be true. Unless he has experienced it he cannot explain it, and still then, his consciousness might be obstructed by not being fully living. What still twists this half-life truth is the fact that no one knows what comes after this half-life. Even though the society in Ubik has advanced enough to unlock the secrets to keeping someone consciously alive for a small amount of time, they, as well as their half-life counterparts, still do not know and like Ella, can only wonder and conjecture.

March 19, 2012

Scene: Jake is using his Avatar for the first time, which means he now has control over his legs as a Na’vi-human hybrid. After being activated, an excited Jake runs out of the compound and into Pandora without the need for an oxygen mask. He is now able to not only run, but use his senses to interact with Pandora, as can be seen through the sensation of dirt on his feet and the taste of the fruit. Although he is experiencing all this through his avatar, it is not physically experienced in his real body, but is mentally.

Jake’s interaction with Pandora extends beyond this initial experience as a Na’vi-human hybrid. At first, even this experience is quite amazing for Jake as he does not have the use of his leg in his real body, so that avatar is a welcome change for him. Once he immerses himself in the role of his avatar, a member of the Na’vi race, does he really transcend the human part of himself. As a member of the Na’vis he is able to tap into the great resource that is Eywa and draw from her not only inspiration from ancestors, but also links with other species on Pandora. The relationship between the Na’vi and the other animals on Pandora reaches a more subconscious level through their link and also a sense of responsibility towards the animals, where their killing for food is seen as a sacrifice to help the people and part of the cyclical nature of Pandora. Jake after spending time with the Na’vi is able to experience, understand, and accept this, which is manifested through his prayer to Eywa before the last battle in the film, and its answer in the aid of the other animals of Pandora.


March 12, 2012

“Yes. The ooloi see great potential in it. So the trade has already been useful. […] Yes. We trade the essence of ourselves. Our genetic material for yours. […] We do what you would call genetic engineering. We know you had begun to do it yourselves a little, but it’s foreign to you. We do it naturally. We must do it. It renews us, enables us to survive as an evolving species instead of specializing ourselves into extinction or stagnation. […] We’re not hierarchical, you see. We never were. But we are powerfully acquisitive. We acquire new life—seek it, investigate it, manipulate it, sort it, use it. We carry the drive to do this in a miniscule cell within a cell—a tiny organelle within every cell of our bodies. Do you understand me?” (Butler 40)

The description of the process of biomimicry and genetic engineering by the ooloi on themselves and humans is characterized as a type of trading. It seems that the ooloi see it as sort of a trade that positively impacts both species involved, and find it to be necessary for survival throughout long amounts of time. This modification is not only a psychological desire on the part of the ooloi as it was for humans, but it is a biological need, and acting upon it fulfills what their bodies have been designed to do.

The inability of humans to do this and become “evolving species” is what has caused their downfall and the ooloi believe that their subsequent arrangement with them will create a new, progressive society. In addition to the human failure in becoming an “evolving species,” the presence of a hierarchical system on Earth is also pointed to as being a degenerative quality of humans. This seems to conflict with the system the ooloi than set up with Lilith and the other human, modifying her in order to make her the leader, and thus, better than the other humans.