Tag Archive | morality

Dream A Little Dream (Digimon Tamers- Episode 5)

(Check out the previous part HERE. Or go back to the beginning HERE)

This episode opens in an interesting manner, at least in the English dub. The narrator (who is voiced by Davis’ voice actor from Adventure 02) recaps the events from the previous example and gives us the name of the leader of Hypnos, Yamaki, who he calls the ‘Digi-World big brother’ and thereby gives us some sort of hint at what he does and what exactly is the extent of the scope and reach of his governmentally sanctioned job and organization. It also pulls English viewers out of the mystery and enigma of the organization which had hitherto been a mysterious entity, and still remains so to some degree, but now that it’s leader has been named he becomes less of a shadowy figure in our imaginations.

The episode truly begins after the opening theme rolls with a kids at Takato’s school hanging out near the soccer field, which has been criss-crossed with chalk lines in indiscernible patters left by some vandal the night before. Kids gossip about what could have created the enigmatic lines and a few kids compare them to crop circles. Others think aliens were the culprits, others ghosts, others that the dinosaur (Guilmon) that was seen previously at school did, and some even believe that the dinosaur was a ghost too! Jeri believes she knows who did it as well and relates to Takato that when she was in the infirmary that morning feeling sick, she saw a weird creature in the medicine cabinet, it ran out when she approached, and left footprints on the ceiling, freaking her out and confusing her even more than the absurd chalk lines.

By the day’s end, the chalk lines have been erased and drawn back normally upon the field. Kids play soccer as the culprit of the past nights disturbance waits and watches from within a group of adjacent bushes. But the figure isn’t anything as creepy as the kids imagined, instead its the diminutive Digimon Calumon who has dreams of playing soccer with the other kids and in response, snuck out and drew his own lines on the previous night in the hopes that someone would appear to play with him.

Later that night, Friday night, he sneaks back to the storage shed, which now has a lock upon it (Calumon thinks its an earring). He breaks the lock and enters the shed to redraw the lines of his imaginary, complicated form of soccer he has created for himself, and again no one shows up to play with him as its nighttime, at school, on the weekend. But the next morning, Takato and Guilmon show up at the school to fulfill Takato’s duties of feeding his classes rabbits in their hutch. Guilmon and Takato find Calumon sleeping behind some pipes outside and become his friend.

Later, Takato and Henry will attempt to find a partner tamer for Calumon. They decide that Kazu could be a good candidate, but ultimately argue against it as he is too power-focused in his approach to playing the Digimon card game and Calumon is a small guy who probably isn’t a power-house type and might crumple under the pressure. They consider two others and each time, their objections become less fleshed out and probably less valid. Henry decides against allowing his little sister Suzie to take on duties as Calumon’s tamer as she is too immature and would probably dress him up in doll clothes all day, which might make him sad or something (like I said, the idea isn’t really well thought out). Finally, they consider Jeri, but Takato thinks she would just be freaked out by Calumon (which, quite frankly, anyone would be the first time they met a Digimon, including Kazu and Suzie).

The day ends and Guilmon and Calumon escape their homes in the park and head off toward the school yard to play some soccer. But this time, the storage shed is locked with three different ‘earring’ so Guilmon digs a hole underneath the shed to remove the chalk-line marker. However, instead of following Calumon’s innocuous directions to draw the lines a particular way, he instinctively draws the symbol of bio-emergence instead: the symbol coincidentally on the head of Calumon, but probably not coincidentally on Guilmon’s. The field turns into a Digital Field and a Champion-level diminutive Digimon appears from within: Vilemon. Initially, because he is so small, Guilmon wants to protect the little guy, but Vilemon proves malevolent and attacks his two would-be friends with his Nightmare Shocker, destroying the chalk line marker in the process.

Henry and Takato show up and begin powering up their partners with Digi-Modify cards to combat Vilemon. Guilmon is given a ‘Hyper-Wing’ attribute so he can fly and battle Vilemon in his element, while Terriermon is Modified with a ‘Speed Plug-in B’ that he uses to break the rhythm of his opponent and attack in between beats. Next, Rika and Renamon show up and Rika uses the ‘Clone’ Modify card to create a distraction for Vilemon. Vilemon falls for the trap and attacks and destroys the clone, which gives the real Renamon time to sneak up behind him an destroy him with her Diamond Storm special move. she then absorbs his data.

At this point, Henry chides Rika for her callous actions and for always absorbing Digimon data so heartlessly. He tells her that Digimon are living beings and that by absorbing their data after defeating them, she has been inadvertently killing them. Rika looks shaken momentarily by this information, but shrugs it off and tells him that she doesn’t believe Digimon are anything more than data (though her face says otherwise). Calumon climbs on her leg and asks her to play with him, which bothers Rika even more as she realizes immediately that such a small, weak Digimon is obviously not designed to fight, and as such, that Digimon do not exist only for the purpose of battling one another. She leaves the area closer than ever before to dismissing her own biases about Digimon, but the cognitive dissonance is powerful because if she were to change her mind and recognize the autonomy and worth of Digimon lives, she would therefore also have to accept her role as a murderer who has committed egregious acts against them time and again.

 

Ciao for now,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

It Came From The Other Side (Digimon Tamers- Episode 4)

(Check out the previous episode review HERE. To go back to the beginning of this series, click HERE)

The battle against Renamon is over. Renamon and Guilmon ended up working together to weaken the out of control Gargomon. Since then, Rika and Renamon departed the scene, as Takato and Henry left the parking garage in haste to ensure they would not be found out as the perpetrators whose Digimon destroyed many of the cars within. Now, Takato, Henry, and their Digimon partners are hanging out in the woods while Gargomon stands on his head, attempting to lose enough energy to de-Digivolve back to Terriermon and return home with Henry.

Henry falls asleep and dreams of a moment from his past, a moment when he played a popular online Digimon video game. Terriermon was his partner Digimon in that game and together they battled many a foe, including a particularly dangerous opponent in Gorillamon, a Champion-level Digimon. When Henry awakens, Gargomon has returned to his Rookie form as Terriermon and the two head home. Meanwhile, Takato is at home looking forward to the day when Guilmon Digivolves and imagining all of the interesting new forms and powers he might take on during this transformation. At Rika’s home, she chides Renamon for her inability to Digivolve to keep up appearances, even though internally she is scared of the prospect of Digivolution after seeing Gargomon lose control in the process.

The next day, Kazu, Kenta, and Takato are hanging out. Kazu shows off his new Modify cards and offers one he considers useless to Takato: a ‘Training Grips’ exercise power up with little practical use in battle that is only applicable to Rookie-level Digimon. Henry passes by and Takato takes his leave of his other friends to run off with him instead for the time being. At Hypnos, a new bio-emergence signature has been picked up on their radar: a Gorillamon in the Network ready to emerge into the real world and potentially cause some real havoc. In the sky above, Henry and Takato see this bio-emergence happening. Henry calls the white cloud of emergence a Digital Field. But this one is behaving unnaturally and following Henry as he and Takato run away through the streets. They decide to split up and Takato leaves to find Guilmon in the adjacent park while Henry and Terriermon retreat into an abandoned construction site to battle whatever exits from the field.

Gorillamon emerges from within and seems to have a past history with Henry and Terriermon. Although the Gorillamon from the video game years prior was defeated by Terriermon, this one seems to be the same individual, which leads one to believe that not all Digimon defeated in the Tamers universe are necessarily destroyed. Another interesting point to note here is that this Gorillamon has the same voice as Wendigomon from the Digimon Adventure 02 movie. Wendigomon also fought a Terriermon in that movie with whom he too had a long history. The parallel is interesting, though probably not on much of a thematic level so any philosophizing on the point would really be belaboring it beyond its intended dimensions.

As Guilmon arrives and he and Terriermon hold off Gorillamon, Henry begins to daydream and remember once again about the video game he played years prior. He received the game from his father as a present for some unnamed holiday and when he began the game, he passed over the much stronger Gorillamon starter for the smaller, more cute and more relatable Terriermon. One day, when he closed the system settings and tried to turn off the computer, it kept running, which led Henry to begin wondering about the ontology of Digimon. He reasoned that the Digital World and the Network may be worlds separate from the real world in some fundamental manner so that the individuals within those worlds might actually exist independently from the real world: ‘Maybe Digimon have a reality outside of the game…’

Henry remembers the event that prompted him to battle Gorillamon in the game. Gorillamon was an npc, but was destroying other npc Digimon like Numemon, Vegiemon, and Monochromon to absorb their data and grow stronger. If the Digimon were real beings, then Gorillamon’s actions led to their annihilation just for his own benefit. He spurred on Terriermon at that point using a series of Modify cards to increase his speed, power, and stamina, and eventually destroyed Gorillamon, who had become a murderer of sorts within the game. This was justice. But Gorillamon’s data was not absorbed at that time, meaning after his defeat, he probably came back as a DigiEgg, grew in strength once more by destroying other Digimon, and eventually became a powerful enough being with enough willpower to bio-emerge from the network to seek his revenge against Henry and Terriermon.

As the real world battle rages on and Takato and Henry find all of their Modify cards too weak to put in a dent in Gorillamon’s defenses, Henry still holds off on Digivolving his partner Digimon into Gargomon once again as he wants to avoid his partner going berserk, and even more importantly, he wants to avoid killing any more Digimon. His flashbacks continue to a conversation he held with his father some years prior in which he was told that Digimon are programmed to battle and destroy one another, but this should not be cause for concern as ‘they don’t really exist. It’s just a game.’

Henry, some time later, after the in-game battle against Gorillamon, saw that his digital partner Digimon Terriermon was wounded. To distance himself from the pain of his friend he told himself aloud that Digimon are ‘just a bunch of zeros and ones… Digimon don’t exist…. It’s only a game. It doesn’t matter if they get hurt, because they’re not real’, echoing his father’s words in the process. This callous display visibly affected Henry, who realized immediately the weakness of the argument as one’s behavior toward digital constructs generally treated as living is sure to weaken one’s moral faculties. And besides, if Digimon are artificial beings they may be artificial intelligences at a certain level of complexity at which they would take on human elements like consciousness, reasoning, emotions, and the ability to feel on the same level as the machines we call human beings.

Henry, at that time, called upon the better angel of his nature: ‘But it does matter!’. He apologized to his digital partner Digimon and one of his Modify cards transformed into a Blue Card, representing the power of the will over reality (in a manner analogous to the mind-over-matter ontological Berkelian position Tamer’s creator Chiaki J. Konaka developed in his prior landmark series Serial Experiments Lain). He scanned it through his Digimon video game card reader, which transformed into a D-Power, the power of which extracted the digital Terriermon from the game and translated his data, his zeros and ones, into the data of the real world: DNA and proteins. Henry realized at this point that all the Digimon he defeated and absorbed within the game prior to this moment were real creatures, every bit as real as Terriermon, that he resigned to destruction, completely and utterly. The moment led to a moral panic, to a dark night of the soul in which he had to re-think his past and come up with new moral categories based on his burgeoning awareness of ontological ones just revealed. Henry decided never again to destroy a Digimon, and never again to force his partner Terriermon to fight against other Digimon as this was cruel not only to his opponents, but to his partner who had to experience pain and suffering for no real purpose in the process.

In the real world, Henry finally comes back to his sense again and decides to use Takato’s ‘Training Grips’ Modify card on Terriermon. The training apparatus holds back Terriermon’s power and mobility, but he manages to shake them off and throw them toward Gorillamon, which immobilizes the beast momentarily. Guilmon and Terriermon attack and defeat Gorillamon, which turns him into data. Henry advises his friend not to absorb the data, which will hopefully return to the Digital World or the the Network where it can be reconfigured one day as a DigiEgg, and Gorillamon can return once again. But there’s one problem: he may return with a stronger grudge and taste for bloodshed and destruction than ever before. AT some point, Henry will have to learn that certain Digimon, especially Virus types, are inherently dangerous and probably should be destroyed for good when possible. But the absorption of their data by good Digimon could one day prove a problem as well. The moral and the practical don’t seem to align in this world, and there is no real ideal outcome besides learning to live with darkness or fighting against it only to become evil oneself, one day.

 

Au revoir,

The Digidestined Cody

[Continued HERE]

Reverend Death

About a month back, a friend and I were talking after a show and he mentioned an odd little documentary about a troubling man who lived and operated, at one time, within a troublingly close proximity to us. He sent it my way and I just now got around to checking it out, and as promised, it was weird and deserving of some note here in this blogspace.

The documentary is one from a series called Real Stories. This particular installment was the fruit of four years of interviews and journalistic work from one of my favorite working journalists, Jon Ronson, who has spent much of his career covering fringe topics like conspiracy theories, psychopathy in the work place, new age infiltration of government organizations (in his modern classic The Men Who Stare At Goats), and in this documentary, Reverend Death, assisted death and dying in Dixie. He attacks his subjects from a gonzo standpoint that makes them eminently interesting and brings to his material a human element from the investigative side of the equation. Equally as important to me, however, is his critical side and his tendency toward debunking, which should be in the spirit of all investigative journalism but is often passed over in mainstream media outlets today in lieu of ‘objective’ journalism in which two sides are given equal attention, and thereby equal footing, despite one side often being bat-shit crazy, off the walls, or demonstrably wrong and thereby not deserving of attention in the first place. In other words, Ronson is a figure representing objectivity and enlightenment while also expressing the whimsical interests of our modern social landscape.

In this documentary, his subject is one George Exoo. An Ohio native who in later life became a Unitarian minister in a small West Virginia community. Unitarians dismiss ecclesiastical authority and the power of the priesthood. Thereby, they do not typically wear the collar and don themselves as Catholics. But George Exoo did so. He might have wanted to be a Catholic priest, but would have been denied this as he was an openly gay man with a long-term relationship to a partner.

However, the idea that the man wanted to be a Catholic minister, but fell back to Unitarianism on account of Catholic proscriptions against his lifestyle doesn’t exactly hold water either. Exoo was interested in Buddhism and New Age spirituality, and in fusing religions with different goals, different paths, different messages, different gods, different truths, different ways, and different practices into one that could seek the same ultimate power behind the universe (in other words, he practiced and believed bullshit). He fit in theologically with Unitarians and their own backwards, misinformed concepts of religion and interpretations of all religions they cannibalize and water down. So, his donning of the collar was purely hypocritical and meant only to influence others sub-consciously through its centuries-long association with power and domination.

Exoo was an odd figure in the south in that Catholicism isn’t particularly popular here, the collar brings more suspicion than reverence, being an openly gay minister is generally an oxymoron, Unitarianism is growing slowly here (probably at a slower rate than atheism outright), and we don’t generally like northerners coming down here to tell us what we should believe about anything, let alone religion (don’t take me wrong here, I’m speaking for general sentiment. My own affiliation is always as an atheist and a rational figure first and foremost, accepting the truth no matter where it’s derived). But the most controversial aspect of Exoo was his advocacy for the Right to Die movement, and most especially the way he expressed that advocacy. Namely, through performing assisted suicides for over one hundred people, surreptitiously, illegally, without being a doctor or having one present as an assistant, and in doing so for subjects who were not generally terminally ill, and often suffered only from psychosomatic illnesses, depression, and anxiety that could have been better handled through work with a good psychiatrist and prescription of regulatory medicines.

Often fringe cases that came to the Hemlock Society’s door, or through other Right to Die advocacy groups, that were deemed problematic and not under the proper umbrella of cases in which they could legally help or direct help, they sent them to Exoo. He never charged money for his assistance in cases, alleging that his work was part of his mission as a reverend. He supposedly never pressured anyone into killing themselves and always respected their rights to stop the procedure (using overdoses of medications and helium poisoning). But none of the cases were documented video-graphically or by reliable assistants who wrote down the procedures after the fact. So, if someone did change their mind last minute, no one would ever know, ever be able to really find out. Dead men tell no tales, eh? Most troubling is that Exoo himself reports that around 20% of those persons he killed, I mean er… assisted, raised their hands while passing out as if to pull the helium mask away. He believes these people were already passed out and the movement is a normal reflex, but this is not really consistent with medical evidence.

At some point, he and his partner flew to Dublin, Ireland to assist a depressed woman in her suicide. They succeeded and returned home, but eventually news of their assistance got out and the Dublin authorities sought their extradition back to the country for a criminal case. During this documentary, part of the drama is derived from the FBI working to track him down, finding him, holding him, and bringing forward a provisional case for extradition. Exoo managed to win and thereby remained in the States.

During this time, Jon Ronson visited experts on various topics to better understand some of the issues surrounding George Exoo’s case. He visited the great theologian and no-bullshit-speaker Stanley Hauerwas at Duke University in North Carolina who told him that traditionally rabbis interpret the thou shalt not kill position to mean thou shalt not kill anyone, even yourself. This is the strict interpretation of the passage, which led Christians initially towards a stance of pacifism before it was perverted through just war analyses (in around the 4th or 5th century if I’m not mistaken). This stance is still taken by Anabaptists like the Amish and the Mennonites who are religiously opposed to war and, when it was still in effect, not subject to the draft. Exoo claimed that the bible had nothing to say about suicide, but is demonstrably proven false in this segment. He is also shown to be a deceitful and manipulative figure at this point in the documentary through his wearing of the collar and Hauerwas explaining to Ronson for the first time that Unitarians aren’t supposed to wear one.

Next, Ronson interviews Richard Bobcock, a man he calls one of Britain’s greatest criminal psychopathologists. Ronson shows the man video footage of conversations with Exoo and a particularly egregious tape wherein Exoo assists a suicide remotely, by phone. The criminal psychologist is something of a strict Freudian who believes that Exoo derives pleasure from assisting in suicide through a variety of factors. First, he believes that Exoo feels in control in these moments and is using that feeling as the primary force behind why he continues to assist in suicides even though illegal and a source of money loss for him. Second, he believes that Exoo is too religious in the sense that he believes too strongly in an afterlife and is in love with that concept to such a degree that he would push others toward it, even though there is, crucially, no real evidence for an afterlife. On these points, Bobcock is probably correct (and is seconded by the Dutch Right to Die advocate Dr. Admiraal), but he goes a bit too far when he describes the religious sutra recitations during the process and the look of satisfaction on Exoo’s face after the process as a masturbatory event. This element is pure Freudian myth and would thereby make all ritual performance into masturbatory events if true. therefore, it’s unjustifiable, universal, and unfalsifiable in a way that is extremely suspect. Later, when Ronson asks Exoo about this topic, Exoo rightly critiques the psychoanalysis of this so-called psychologist, which a form only really useful to speak symbolically (as in a modernized Lacanian or Zizekian analysis) or about narratives and artworks.

Towards the mid-point of the film, a new character emerges who Ronson refers to as Linda. She has taken over as Exoo’s assistant after Exoo’s partner in suicides and in life, Thomas, has taken ill and finds the physical demands of long car rides and plane flights too taxing. I’m from a small town about 30 minutes from Charlotte, NC, and that city is functionally my hometown and the place me and my friends visit to do anything. So when I saw that this Linda character lives in Charlotte, I was thrown for a bit of a loop. It gets weirder as we learn that Exoo and Linda are working together to gain funds to buy a home 15 minutes north of Charlotte in Gastonia, where many of my friends live and close to the place where my band practices. Exoo and Linda planned to buy a foreclosed home for really cheap in an effort to turn it into an assisted suicide facility, practically right in my backyard!

They never managed to use the facility for such a purpose as far as I can tell, and after the release of this documentary in 2008, Exoo began to analyze himself more closely. He seemingly stopped wearing the collar of the priesthood, committed no more assisted suicides (as far as I can tell), distanced himself from Linda who was only in it for the money to be gained from desperate people who wanted to die painlessly, and eventually Exoo passed away in 2015 at a ripe old age, hopefully rehabilitated from the extremity of his past performances and reconciled to the monstrosity of what he had done.

This is the point when any other reviewer might end the analysis with an opinion on the matter of euthanasia and assisted suicide cloaked in the form of an objective argument. But personally, I acknowledge that the void is not a very strong hypostasis from which to derive moral oughts and shoulds about social and individual action. And although it isn’t the strongest standpoint in this regard, it is the correct one, beyond good and evil, moving individual action into the realm of total freedom where the moral dictums one accepts or writes into their own code are even more concrete, lest one make him or herself into a hypocrite and a charlatan.

 

Cody Ward

Island of Ambition (Gargantia Episode 10)

(To check out part 9, click HERE)

The Salvage work commences and Pinion is finding loads of treasure in the now-vacant Whale Squid nest. The murdered bodies of the sentient beings and cousins of the human species litter the oceans, oceans of blood, oceans of gore, morally problematic oceans that give pause only to Ledo who knows why they are problematic, and to superstitious workers who believe in the curses of the Whale Squids that now haunt the sea of mist as spectres. Pinion’s work finds many weapons, cannons roughly 75 times more powerful than the arsenal of his entire fleet. He decides to hoard his wealth for himself and his own people, he won’t share his spoils with the world to make it a better place, and won’t even trade or sell the newfound wares.

Pinion takes on the aspect of a fascist with total control. His power as a worker with a will to help only those who are like him is nationalistic and close-minded. He has made a power grab through his popularity that has rendered him the true leader of the fleet over and above Ship Captain Flange and the other Ship Captains aboard. Pinion calls out on the radio frequency and tells the world of his findings and how he will destroy anyone who attempts to take them from him. Pirates show up to test his strength and are quickly defeated. Pinion takes over their ships, enlists the men as his own, and imprisons the Pirate Captain in a bay below.

Later, he will throw a party for Ledo whose fighting ability and technological superiority has led to the genocide of the Whale Squid, the eviction from their home, and the opportunity for Pinion to reap rewards. Ledo is disillusioned and angry with himself. He will brood and reflect on the evil he hath wrought as well as the propaganda ingrained within him from birth onward by the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. Pinion challenges him the next day to help with the work and quit sulking, but Ledo essentially tells him to fuck off and makes him aware that Pinion is ultimately at his mercy as the man with the machine that could kill every human on the planet without even taking damage.

“What is this? What am I doing it all for? Who am I doing it all for? When did it start? Was it when I first regained consciousness on this strange planet? Or was it earlier, like the first time I got inside Chamber, inside a Machine Caliber? Or did it start at the very beginning when I was born?” Ledo feels as if his life has been less than meaningless. He has actively killed without prejudice his own genetic brothers and sisters. He thinks back to when he exited the Machine Caliber after the genocide and recalls the blood and guts of thinking, feeling sentient beings caked on the outside hatch. The moral pangs reach an existential core that is itself a void, a void the Galactic Alliance filled through meaning in battle, in making the world and the Universe a worse place rather than a better one.

His visions of killing mother and fathers and stomping to death their children excites a physical revulsion and response in Ledo in the form of vomiting. As he reflects, Chamber has one of his inconvenient processing realizations. The light bugs that roam the Earth’s seas are not natural phenomena or true bugs. They are nanomachines made of the same material as the Hideauze shell. the material absorbs electromagnetic waves and converts them into chemical energy for sustenance. They use this energy to exist and to grow and to eventually self-divide. They are connected to the Hideauze in some way, but Chamber is still unsure of how.

Ledo, tired of these academic discussions, makes apparent to Chamber his lack of will to go on fighting and claims that he will fight no more forever against the Hideauze, because they are his relatives genetically. they are evolved from human beings. Chamber then acts uncharacteristically. He gives Ledo orders to fight. Chamber explains that the Hideauze are powerful beings that do not social orders or complex technology to continue existing. Therefore, unlike weaker human beings who do, the Hideauze have not continued to need large brains and intellects. Chamber believes, without great evidence mind you, that the Hideauze have therefore evolved over time to be less and less intelligent, but their space forms have evolved through constant fighting to be more and more powerful physically. they have reached the level of strength of Machine Calibers in space and therefore, should be considered Ultimate lifeforms quickly reaching their peak evolutionary levels of strength. Human beings have relied on intellect and social orderings and the Machine Calibers represent the highest form of evolution within the species of homo sapiens. Chamber therefore believes that the conflict between the two ultimate lifeforms is a teleological necessity and potentially an eschatological end-goal game.

As Ledo thinks about this new approach and questions why and how Chamber is commanding him rather than the other way around, a fleet approaches in the distance. We, the viewers, note that the individuals onboard are wearing hooded cloaks with odd symbols of an eternal eye, masonic style. Chamber notes their approach and a Galactic Alliance signal being emitted from that direction. As they near Pinion’s fleet, Ledo recognizes the Machine Caliber of his friend and superior officer Kugel onboard. Is it possible that both men survived the Hideauze battle and the bungled Telemaki Swing through the wormhole generator in Episode 1?

 

Till next time,

Cody Ward

[Continued HERE]

Deep Sea Secret (Gargantia Episode 9)

(If you missed it, check out my essay on episode 8 HERE. To go back to the first episode’s commentary click HERE)

Pinion’s Salvage crew and Flange’s peoples are aboard their ships on the fabled sea of mist and most crew members have a bad feeling about the situation as a result of the eeriness of it all. Stories proliferate about how no one has ever left the sea of mist of alive. We find out that this is not technically true as well. Pinion and his brother entered the Whale Squid’s territory years prior to salvage ancient technologies from the ocean’s floor, but his brother invaded a nest directly and he was killed by the Whale Squids there. Pinion was left alive or somehow managed to stay alive even though he was attacked by a few of them.

Down below, in the fabled sea, Ledo and Chamber are attacking the Whale Squid, Earth-type Hideauze, and immediately realize that they are weaker than their space-type counterparts. In fact, they seem to be 1/120th the strength of Chamber who has little difficulty defeating many of them and only has to be concerned with running low on energy in the process. Over the past thousands of years, the Earth-type Hideauze have had no real competition for resources in their seas, and as such, evolved through a lack of harsh selection factors into a weaker race that remained benign compared to their space counterparts that grew stronger and more vicious.

As Ledo and Chamber draw them out in droves and attack, they come close to the surface and Chamber activates his shields. The Salvage wrecker workers toss out large explosives into the sea and destroy the Whale Squids in the vicinity. As Ledo continues his assault, he gets closer and closer to the Whale Squids, eventually locating their nest and destroying all of the fully-grown members, plus many young polyps, which Chamber refers to as Hideauze larvae. The polyps emit high pitched shrieks when damaged or killed. Killing them all upsets Ledo, so he leaves a number of them alone for the time being.

As they break into the core of the underwater nest, they realize that they are in some complex, ancient research facility. There are data chips strewn about the ocean floor inside that Chamber analyzes, decodes, and assesses. He says that the information is classified by the Galactic Alliance of Humankind and that Ensign Ledo has no clearance for this Research Society Lab data. Ledo balks at this information and reminds Chamber that in the absence of a commanding officer, Ledo is the commanding officer. He forces Chamber to reveal the information and a series of increasingly complex and troubling videos stream over Chamber’s internal console.

Ryan Matsumoto is the Earth’s first astronaut who trains constantly to go into space and man the Earth’s Space Station. The fifth Ice Age is upon the Earth and growing worse every day as fewer and fewer places remain habitable. The Citadel of Science lab, the one they are currently within, works to strengthen the human genome along with support from activists known as Evolvers. Although there are doubts about the efficacy of human genome manipulation, international regulations have become completely obsolete with the dawn of the technologies’ ubiquity and ease of access.

As the Space Station grows, the Continental Union and some of the world’s most powerful governments gain control of it and begin creating a multinational fleet against the Evolvers and the research facility. They target these people with large bombing raids, but there are military coalitions and nation-states on both sides that help even out the balance and prevent the Continental Union’s total victory. Meanwhile, scientists continue to bio-engineer humans to survive in space. They create a being known as a Symbiot, the Hideauze, which are human beings that can travel through space. Ledo realizes that the Hideauze and Whale Squids are creatures evolved from human beings.

The Continental Union creates a wormhole interface drive outside of the ISS to escape the galaxy with all of their technology and to strand the genetically engineered humans and the Evolvers on the Earth, where they believe they will most likely freeze to death and cause no future problems. But the Evolvers and the Symbiots take over the technology and use it to escape themselves and to proliferate themselves throughout the Universe.

Ledo has a crisis on his hands. His whole life, the Galactic Alliance of Humankind has kept this information about the Hideauze’s origins a secret. He has been trained to kill them indiscriminately and with extreme prejudice even though the Hideauze display no proclivity to attack first and only protect their territory from aggressors. Ledo has killed hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of his biological cousins. Sentient beings with emotions and intellects. Fathers and mother who were trying to protect their children. And the children themselves, the little blue eyes not so unlike Ledo’s own. The only moral panic analogous to Ledo’s from our own perspective is that experienced by soldiers after particularly brutal and mindless wars here on Earth. I can only imagine my own grandfather, a Green Beret in Vietnam, special ops. Told to search and destroy men, women, children, burn down whole villages in the name of American propaganda that served no purpose but to kill and maim innocent human beings in the name of an unwinnable political cause. Dreams of American atrocities committed by his own hands haunted him the rest of his ailing, Agent Orange-infected life, and I imagine, similar visions will haunt Ledo.

The creators of Gargantia wanted to create an anime that would encourage young people that the world is not so bad and that they can take their destinies into their own hands and go forth and act within the world. Hitherto, the series has shown us some of the beauty of life, but also of its fragility and of the manipulations that state actors will make of frail human actors with usually, as yet undefined psyches. Young men and women called to arms for causes even when, for example, the U.S. has not been involved in a virtuous conflict for seventy-three years.

 

Cody Ward

[Continued HERE]

Separation (Gargantia Episode 8)

(Click HERE to check out part 7)

Ledo is set on a path to destroy the Whale Squid, earth-type Hideauze. He believes it is his mission and purpose in life to do so and even though he has been softly introduced to the notion that one’s purpose is a moving target, an amorphous substance one can manipulate and direct in different ways, the newfound presence of these beings on Earth presses him on to battle. Two facts also push Ledo in this direction. He wants to protect his friends and Gargantia, and especially Amy, from the destruction that the Whale Squids may one day bring to them. Second, Chamber has finally located Earth’s coordinates within the Universe and sent out an SOS message to the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. Unfortunately, they are so far away that the message will not reach the alliance for approximately 6,582 years, 16 hours, and 20 minutes. If I’m not mistaken, information can travel much faster than bodies can and these bits of SOS data should be travelling at hundreds or thousands of miles and hour faster than Ledo and Chamber would be capable of.

This makes it impossible for Ledo to ever return to the Alliance. Therefore, Gargantia and Earth are his new permanent homes and he must protect them from the Whale Squid Hideauze at any cost. But will his leaving Gargantia for a while to attack Whale Squid territory with Pinion’s salvage crew open Gargantia up to potential pirate attacks? How will they protect themselves without the Machine Caliber and with a much smaller fleet? Amy doesn’t want Ledo to leave her and Bebel, but cannot voice her frustrations to him. Bebel, however, can. But Ledo is unshakable in his plans and gives Bebel a memento to remember him by until he returns, if he returns: an old Hideauze-nail ocarina that was gifted to him as a child by a young one who looked much like himself. A child he designates as probably his younger brother. The changing of hands of this memento signifies Ledo’s growing connection to Bebel as a surrogate brother.

Meanwhile, Fairlock has previously had a large heart attack due to all of the stress of the situation in Gargantia. He dies surrounded by his loyal ship captains and his aide Ridget, who he bequeaths the golden key of leadership to and passes down his chain of command. Ridget is unsure of herself and works herself too hard to reconfigure the ship’s plans. With Ship Captain Flange leaving with the ships of the people he represents, as well as a number of other leaders departing alongside Pinion and his Salvage crew, much work needs to be done to make sure the new Gargantian fleet functions well in their absence. Ridget takes all of the work upon herself, but finally Bellows visits her and ensures her that the only reason Fairlock could do it all was because he had help in the form of aides like Ridget. she realizes she is not alone and entreats the help of all the citizens of Gargantia going forward. As a result, everything falls into place.

We learn a little bit about the fleet’s political and social structures in this episode, as we have learned much about their society in each previous episode. Gargantia is unique as an anime in terms of how strong, dynamic, and logical the social structures of the world seem to be and how well the series’ writers introduce them throughout. We find here for instance, that Gargantia is just the name of the largest ship at the centre of the fleet. It is represented by one of the ship’s people as the Fleet Commander. Every other attached ship in the fleet has its own unique identity both of its people and of its political ordering. Some are more democratic than others, but ultimately each ship has its own Ship Captain as political leader and literal helmsman. These Ship Captains make up the council of Gargantia alongside the Fleet Commander who has final say on all matters. But the Ship Captains are free to leave at any time and as such, this keeps the Fleet Commander from becoming too authoritarian and controlling, as he or she would immediately influence others to leave the fleet and thereby weaken Gargantia, which could prove a future existential threat. The society is set up in such a way that everyone in power is accountable and has more of a reason to cooperate with one another than to feud.

Finally, Amy’s friend Melty must leave Gargantia alongside Pinion and Flange because she is a member of Flange’s ship community. Amy wants to follow Ledo as well, but stays behind because of her brother Bebel, who must remain behind because of his illness and the fact that the only qualified doctor around to treat him is Dr. Oldham: a resident of Gargantia who will not be leaving with the others. Ledo leaves without saying his goodbyes and Amy resents his decision to leave to kill the Whale Squid and also fears for his emotional state, which may be fragmenting his personality as he kills more and more foes: an act of genocide he will come to regret in future episodes.

 

Ciao,

Cody Ward

[Continued HERE]

“Que’est-ce que les sciences sociales” (Je moque)

“Every society is a moral society.” ~Emile Durkheim

In Durkheim’s mountain of a work “The Division of Labor in Society,” he comes to some interesting conclusions about the various laws governing society and the typical functions that hold it all together. But for me, one of the most interesting aspects of this text lies in his methodological approach to the study of social phenomena. Read More…

“We are deprived of strength…

“We are deprived of strength where we feel pity”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

The Sadomasochistic Paradox

The Golden Rule is roughly formulated as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Another formulation of this same maxim could be framed, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

So, a masochist says to his sadist friend, “Hit me!” The sadist replies, “No.”

Therefore, the traditional formulation of the rule is impotent and not true. For to be true it would have to apply to all cases and in regards to all persons. And in this case it certainly does no such thing.

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