Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Capricology: Week 3 - Apotheosis, Anyone?

Here is the continuation of the dialogue over science, technology, and the sacred in the television series, Caprica at ReligionDispatches. Check out earlier discussions over the pilot here and week 2 here.

Below is a teaser for the Week 3 discussion. You can find the full discussion here (warning: yes, yes, there are lots of plot spoilers).

Capricology: Apotheosis, Anyone?
More on the sci-fi TV show that imagines monotheists rebelling against a polytheist society, speculates about the nature of the human soul, and asks, “Can you be free if you’re not real?”
Diane Winston:

Caprica’s media, not unlike our own, thrives on spectacle and disaster. A terrorist bombing, whose alleged teenage perpetrator is the scion of a rich, privileged family, is spectacularly disastrous. The news story spills into sports, financial, and talk shows with the not-so-hidden subtext of retribution. The perception that a wrong needs to be righted plays out on the Buccaneers’ sports field, the stock market, and Backtalk with Baxter. But the reality of the tragedy remains hidden and no one—not the police, nor the reporters nor the families involved—seems interested in sussing it out. In each instance, using, pursuing, or bowing to perceptions is the more pragmatic course.

Overall it’s another bad week for Daniel. He’s not only harassed by the media, but he’s undone by his few unmediated bouts with reality. Daniel heads to the boxing ring for a few rounds as a pummeling machine. But when he’s waylaid by Sam Adama, he can’t land a connecting blow. It’s also a bad time for Tamara. Unaware that reality has become, for her, a perception—she seeks escape from virtuality. I’m not sure if she’ll up sacrificed or apotheosized, but she seems to be the avatar for the rest of us.

Henry Jenkins:

Diane asks about the representations of the news media in this week’s episode. The media blitz on this episode is by far the most interesting element this week. The train bombing and the Graystone family involvement are “media events”—that is, real-world dramas become the focus of a range of different stories that the culture wants to tell about themselves. I am struck by the image of zapping across channels and finding the story played out as news, crime, sports, business, and entertainment/media news; a phenomenon we’ve seen around countless news items in the age of cable and the internet. My mentor, John Fiske, argued that the stories which emerge in this transmedia space are stories that point to core fault-lines in our culture, which allow us to talk about contradictory expectations about class, race, gender, generation, sexuality, and especially about power.

So, I wonder if we could use the news stories to help figure out what are the fault-lines in the society being constructed on Caprica. We already have hints at ethnic differences (if we can use such terms to refer to contrasting planets), religious differences, and class differences.
Anthea Butler:

Confession is also prominent in the story line of Sister Clarice. She wants to be Lacy’s confessor, but Lacy (rightfully) doesn’t trust sister Clarice. Lacy squirms her way out of Sister’s clutches, but can’t manage to escape Zoe. Zoe, after having to endure her parents having a frak right in front of her (this is the definitive nightmare for most of us, young, or old!), has figured out how to appear to Lacy as her “avatar” human self, rather than the one ton, six-foot-tall Cylon prototype that her essence is trapped in. She’s also managed to access Adama’s daughter Tamara, and takes Tamara along to Club V with her and Lacy. The decision to let Tamara go off on her own in Club V without Lacy and Zoe will definitely have some interesting ramifications, since she does not seem to be aware of her “avatar” status, and still thinks she’s human—even though she can’t feel her heart beating.

Sister Clarice, meanwhile, uses the holoband to go into a virtual place to enter what looks like a Catholic confessional to have a discussion with someone “behind the screen.” Here’s where things get interesting, religiously. Clarice’s claim that Zoe is going to be the apotheosis was interesting from a religious point of view. “Apotheosis” in its most basic definition means making someone human “divine.” In the world of Caprica, who knows what apotheosis means. Even the figure behind the screen says to Clarice: “Not everyone shares in your view of apotheosis.”

Salman Hameed:

It is the virtual world, however, that continues to fascinate me. I found it amusing that the copy of Zoe's avatar is not only establishing its own identity independent of its creator, Zoe, but it is also capable of emotionally blackmailing Lacy into moving its robot body to Gemenon. But what about Tamara's avatar? She doesn't have a heartbeat, doesn't know how she got there, and most importantly, she doesn't know that there is no longer a real Tamara. She does want to escape — but where will she go? It is Lacy (of the three avatars, the only one with a human body in the outside world) that is left to wonder, "Can you be free if you are not real"? It will be fascinating to see what the writers do with Tamara's avatar. Lost and without a real Tamara out there, she will rely on other imaginations to forge her identity. I suspect she will be apotheosized rather than sacrificed, and will probably end up as a rival to Zoe (mimicking Adama-Graystone family rivalry in the virtual world).

As far as we are concerned, it's becoming increasingly difficult to escape the virtual world even if we are real.

Read the full discussion here.

Related Posts:
Capricology: Week 2 - The Soul of a Robot

Capricology: The Pilot Episode - Television, Tech, and the Sacred

The Purple Interview: Faith, Hope, Science, and Caprica


Unknown said...

for me, apotheosis means a virtual heaven. they keep saying apotheosis will join the 12 worlds and the church gave clarece full reign over STO for what purpose? mother retained the hollowband to discover what this whole virtual reality thing is. now, for the first time in humanity, they are able to create a reality using the illusion of heaven as a point of reference. anyone can become 'divine' and enter heaven through apotheosis.

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