Tuesday, 6 December 2016

EdgeGame in Westworld

Part of the programmed endgame of Westworld's first series again reminds me of the conclusion of Punchdrunk's 'A Drowned Man'.

For the avoidance of direct Westworld spoilers, the above picture is from the Punchdrunk show and shows the couple outside the caravan, behind which is a forest where onlookers can walk across the trampled leaves towards the small hilltop where a conclusion plays out. Punchdrunk's world for the show was huge, set across all the floors of a defunct Paddington Post Office sorting office.

Of course, it's still tiny compared with Westworld, although the viewing construct is fairly similar.

Back to Westworld and I also see the overlaps with the second series of Humans. We have robots breaking through from their programmed mind to discover some form of a conscious state. That's in both shows. It takes slightly different paths, one of which is more routed in the inner voice being developed as the result of catastrophe (Westworld). In Humans there's some hidden programming code which can flip the robots up to a higher level.

Westworld positions the idea of a bicameral (two-chambered) mind where an outer reactive being is able to modify behaviour (think) based upon discovered consciousness. Julian Jaynes' bicameral consciousness theory supposes that great catastrophes were the catalyst for the discovery of inner self. Jayne's theory uses the non inward looking Illiad as a reference point. I'm considering the Odyssey-like quests in Westworld too: Homecoming, Wandering, Guest-Friendship, Testing and Omens, maybe?

A scratchy description of this inner self discovery appears in the Westworld story using the consultants' favourite triangle diagram depicting a simplified Maslow hierarchy followed by a magician's trick turning it into an onion diagram. A-maze-ing ;-)

What is also interesting is the idea of the language processing needed to express the feelings that emanate from inner self. The stuttering broken synth called Odi in Humans discovers consciousness but struggles with its extended vocabulary.

Both stories could develop the idea of the other structures needed to make a synth-world which doesn't simply end in all-out conflict.

Anyway, here's Laurie Anderson with Language is a Virus, from the William S Burroughs 'Ticket that exploded' cut-up/fold-in novel about creating insoluble conflicts for the life forms on Earth.

In Burroughs' story the conflicts were put there to destroy, but maybe Westworld ascribes to Nietzsche along the lines of that which does not kill us makes us stronger?

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