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Filtering by Tag: Mr- Robot

Falling Through Words

Tom Sturch


Either do your homework or you're grounded.      —Mom

If she had written it down it would have included the close, “Love, Mom.” Not that she'd have had to. The love of my mother was and is implicit. But being careful with words allows passion to enjoy reason, care to invoke care. The complementary economy of actions and words are how we are human.I just finished watching Season 1 of Mr. Robot. (Andy Greenwald's S1 review here.) There's adult content and it's not for kids, nor for adolescents without a lot of following discussion. In Mr. Robot's world, words can mean anything. They are a means of exploitation. Avoiding conversations and relationships is a means of survival. So Mr. Robot's world operates on the assumption that the only trusted language is computer code. Binary code. Where specific actions are the result of precisely arranged words with singular meaning.

Mr. Robot's world is Marshall McLuhan's “global village” in shards. It is the world of philosopher Jean Beaudrillard in which society has accepted fatalistic economic slavery through veneers of corporately-mediated normalcy. It is post-human and post-urban. It is a post-apocalyptic world in which the apocalypse has come silently. Life is fabricated and virtual. It is medicated, isolated and schizoid. And it is celebrated.

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Imagine the amazing good fortune of the generation that gets to see the end of the world. This is as marvelous as being there in the beginning.     —Jean Baudrillard

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In the beginning when God speaks light in Genesis we see there is no space between what he says and what he does. God's word-act is one thing. But it is mediated through his being, which is love, and in this way it is triune and highly faceted with relational meaning. It is  multiplicitous in its work of creation. In Mr. Robot, the space between word and action is rendered with such certainty there is no space for translation. No space for transformation. There is only transaction. It makes the world by extraction and destruction. Light is relegated to wires. The mediation of the knower is superfluous. Every act is a yes or a no. A one or a zero.

Elliot, the protagonist (Rami Malek) is part Everyman, part Superhero, with a foot in two illusory worlds. Elliot is a debugger by day and a hacker by night. Matrix fans will not miss the reference. Like Neo, he speaks the bug well. He has affections, but they are given to fixing lives around him, not loving. He's armed with godlike access to information and cannot resist using it in the balance of justice. But he knows too much. He lives suspended on the fault line and struggles with which world to live in. And neither world is Zion. I root for Elliot just to let go.

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Animals have no unconscious, because they have a territory. Men have only had an unconscious since they lost a territory.     —Jean Baudrillard

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Genesis 1 is liturgical poetry. It is an ancient way of ordering words and meanings within dynamic and generative relationships. It was probably read regularly in worship gatherings so the people would remember how to keep knowing God as Lord. Genesis 2 and 3 is God's garden play in which the knowers abandon relationships to hack the boundaries of knowledge. At the end of the play God slays an animal to cover what they've become. It precedes what theologians call the Protoevangelium (literally, first gospel). There's hope. But it will have to be teased out of a barren, scorched, and littered land. It will be life as situated in the shadow of death.   Here we find ourselves. The blood of Christ re-mediates our humanity to its Lord and Garden while we do the creative work of remembering who we are. Light breaks out, and in. The downside is the grief of falling from a world that is cratering above a real and suffering one. But if we're lucky, we'll get grounded. If we're smart, we'll do our home work.