Unconscious Cinema — 3D Hegelian Waifu

Photo: Michael Coghlan @ Flickr

Unconscious Cinema


  • The film, like a lot of higher-end Hollywood fare, is basically a technology commercial when it’s not being multicultural propaganda. But even on the low level of techno-porn, I have to say that this mostly failed to stimulate: it’s simply not very inventive. Compare it to something like Back to the Future II, or even The Fifth Element, and you’ll see what I mean. Despite this lack of flash and newness BR 2049 ultimately emerged for me as a reassurance (or an attempted reassurance) to the proverbial bug-man nation. (((They))) are saying: “look, we know that the neoliberal alienation we’ve got in store for you is going to suck, it probably sucks right now…but we’re going to get really – I mean incredibly good – at nigger-tech. So yeah…wicked drones, flying cars (maybe), and 3-D waifus to turn your head, and whisper in your ear. And if you’re an especially big-brained nibba, maybe you can be Jared Leto: richer than God, grappling with bleeding edge inventions in your dark, isolated tower. So listen: keep your faith in the system, and don’t break bug-man ranks”. It’s just hard for me to imagine any one sperging to this the way geeks used to sperg to Star Wars, or Alien, or even the first BR. But maybe this is part of the point, because:

    it’s funny…on another level the film also very quietly and yet very resolutely manages to stack a brick in the less-sexy but parallel wall of perception that views a lot of this forthcoming tech as essentially scary and dehumanizing. And this is within the Blade Runner “tradition”, if there is such a thing. Think of the all-white interrogation room K is required to visit periodically, to have his “baseline” evaluated. There’s that unblinking black glass shark eye on the wall – with its oddly berating tone. Or there’s the female corporate-judo castrating replicant that does Leto’s bidding. There’s a sense of an innate fear of the brutally mechanized future, which is not new and I guess to be expected of Hollywood neurotics. My only point is that a film like this has two distinct propaganda agendas when it comes to presenting next-level tech, neither of which it handles very well. Probably because they are totally opposed, ideologically. You can’t really make a coherent movie “warning” us all about how future tech is going to be radically dehumanizing and gloomy, and then turn around and tempt the bug-men with the erotic possibilities of the 3-D waifu. I mean, I guess you could call that “rich” and “layered” if you want. I’d just call it slightly cynical.

  • Right… Richard Spencer and Mark Brahim watch porn, but also want to ban porn?! Hypocrisy anyone? If you don’t like porn or think it’s bad, then just don’t watch it. No one is forcing you to consume pornography! Simply saying: “It just shouldn’t take place. It should be stopped.” isn’t an argument.

  • Loved this. I’d be happy to pay a paywall for this kind of content.

    I have some thoughts on the Hegelian aspects of this relationship.
    I think the first crucial moment is the recognition that the being of Joi would be open to the chance of dying by being moved to the portable device, though I want to retroactively place this knowledge to before he moves her there. The ability for the device to break and cause her death (disappearance, “deletion” in some sense), makes her unnecessary from the Hegelian view. It makes her secondary and susceptible to the noumenal, physical world around her. For Hegel, this starts the directional relationship of object, to sense certainty, to “I”, which is the beginning of consciousness (not yet self-consciousness). Her being made secondary to the physical world puts her in this relationship which expresses itself in the rain, portrayed as a very important and deep moment. It is here that she gains consciousness by way of [Hegelian] sense certainty, and because of this, she is able to truly become a consciousness for K. She becomes enough of an “I” to create a dialectical relationship with K.

    This relationship develops in the moment of utterance of her willingness to die by being with K (by being deleted from the home computer). Now, in a strict sense, willingness to die is associated with the Bondsman/Master, not the Slave, but I think this isn’t crucial. She becomes a being-for-K, and that willingness is a reflection of that which is already in him, as everything reflects K now. Thus, in a crude sense, K becomes Master by way of the other-consciousness of the girl. The point of this is that it is only possible for K to lie to his boss on the basis of this process having taken place. Remember that there is no explanation given as to why K is able to lie, able to break out of his engineering. In the film, he just is. He just lies all of a sudden. I think this lack of explained process hints that it comes from his relationship to and love of this other-consciousness, which gives him recognition constitutive of self-consciousness. Joi is his awakening.

    It is also crucial that this Master position is only preliminary, and dialectizes through the Slave position in which K and others are born as replicants. We know that the position of the Slave is ultimately able to access truth in a way that the Master is not, because the Slave is able to recognize himself and the Master, whereas the Master is only able to see himself (everything in the world becomes a mirror through which the Master only knows himself). The replicants are slaves in a literal and Hegelian sense then, and can overcome the Master in the Hegelian/Marxian mold.

    There is something else that is important about the source of the ability to come to self-recognition and self-consciousness, which is that the original source is also in their genetic coding, specifically the real memories given to them by the daughter. These memories (she says that the best memories have a real source) are so convincing that K believes himself to have experienced them in a form of belief that is much more profound than their synthetic counterparts. The replicants who join the rebellion all have this memory.

    To bring all this to the level of how critique functions in the movie, we should ask: what is it that the Master(s) miss that the Slave replicants learn? Here is one avenue I like, and which I think can be molded into an alt-right thesis for the film: the importance of memory, and the historical consciousness integral to agency. The Master Tyrell does recognize this importance in the first film, but he either misidentifies it or it is forgotten by Wallace (the new company owner) of the second film. Tyrell understands that memories give a better sense of real personhood to the replicants, which would then boost their functioning. The best expression of this sense of personhood would be for the replicant to think that it is a human. Indeed, the “first” replicant with this characteristic is Rachael, who is also the first replicant to give birth. Wallace wants to recreate this effect for more efficient colonization of space, but is unsuccessful. Perhaps what he misunderstands is that the creation of progeny needs real history, and real historical consciousness and memory. Rachael, as prototype, was given the real memories of human, as were K and the others. (I have to think that this is different, or working differently, for Wallace’s failed attempts, as the rebel replicants should have access to the ability to procreate. Otherwise, why rebel?) I can’t but be a bit artless, then, in thinking that the fake memories given to most replicants is not unlike the synthetic consumer mass culture of our time. It is us, the red-pilled, who have a true memory of our people, and it will be us who chart our future, and moreover, are fundamentally able by virtue of this memory to take our people forward. We identify the manufactured creations of the modernist capitalist zeitgeist, and by this identification may treasure our true historical selves.

    Also: What of the name, K? I might be reaching here, but is “k” not the epitome of the most basic form of recognition that we have available to us in the texting age? Perhaps the way K interacts with the world, especially his cop boss, is on this same level of recognition. To text “k” as a response is to say essentially nothing other than that the previous message was received, and not in the more content-laden way of saying “message received”, which implies that more is done with the message than the simple reception of it. “K” as a response is seen as annoying or rude because it is a way to say something, to send a message, without actually saying anything at all; it is an absolute vapidity. This is how K is made to be, how he is engineered: not to accept an order in the way that a human would, which would be to create an acceptance from the self-conscious essence of the self, but to answer from the hollow core of his being with “k.” Remember again that K’s boss never questions the truth of what K says (that he killed the child). She doesn’t have to, because she believes that there is no such process of created acceptance towards an answer, she believes that when he speaks it is with the same spirit of k, the vapid k which doesn’t have the machinery necessary to craft a lie. In this way the annoyance which comes package-deal with “k” such as in a text message indicates to us the foundation of such annoyance, which is a desire for more than simple recognition, or in Rimbaud’s words, more “than mere complaisance embellished with blue skies and riches.” So, choosing this name for our protagonist also offers a critique of the lack and loss of spirit and soul in the modern age.

  • As my high school friend used to say about technology (cars, lawnmowers, powertools, etc.) “You control the machine. Don’t let the machine control you.”

  • The Beloved is experienced in a similar sense to the presence of death. The object is somehow not of the world or experienced in it. The corpse isn’t a person but it’s not merely a thing like a rock. We clean and prepare and bury the dead, mourn and celebrate the departed. Death is a visitor from another realm. When we are with the beloved nothing in the world matters for an intense but limited period of time. Love is light of life shining through another person’s face. It’s a transcendental experience.

  • I gather that the portrayal of artificial women in “Blade Runner 2049,” namely, the holographic waifu Joi and the Replicant terminator Luv, bothered many women in the audience because it comes perilously close to the truth about female reality: Women don’t have much of an inner life, and they come a lot closer to the level of Joi and Luv than our political correctness allows us to admit.

    Andrew Anglin on “The Daily Shoah” a few weeks back also argued that many women now in their 20’s have become effectively Replicants in real life because they have made themselves sterile and childless with hormonal contraceptives, and they have burned out their dopamine systems through their selfish sexual hedonism and their constant attention-whoring through social media.

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