I am now watching a series called Altered Carbon , that Wikipedia categorizes as Cyberpunk, and then defines Cyberpunk as a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a combination of low-life and high-tech featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
That sounds familiar to me. Cyberpunk is not one of many possibilities for the future. It is here and now. 1984 is already obsolete with face recognition software and everyone carrying a cell phone so that their location is always known. The various novels of mind control are nothing compared to the many drugs offered by your doctor to calm depression, over excitement, and whatever else might disturb your calm conformity.
So I did a search for cyberpunk literature and encountered pages of movie titles and book names along with games and animations. Why? Obviously there is an audience that identifies with this situation. It’s not just me.
Then I thought, take any of the most successful movies and watch it again. As you do so, eliminate the anti-gravity cars and other supposed futuristic item, and then ask yourself, how far removed from current reality is that movie.
Cancel culture anyone? Aren’t the social media companies our modern Big Brother, canceling those they disapprove of, including the President of the United States and its congress? Essentially ‘Freedom of Speech” is being eliminated.
Look around us. There is a very powerful effort to erase personal identity in favor of group identity. Many identities are tied to social media where they undergo a type of pseudo birth and life, and often a type of death at the hands of those who command the media.
For example there are “opinion leaders” and social media “influencers,” who are Instagram celebrities and YouTube stars. They tell those who follow them which consumables are “cool,” and which aren’t. For this they are well paid. How pathetic that there are so many who can’t make that choice themselves. These are the nothing people who form the background mobs in the cyberpunk movies.
I have to ask, what would happen to these people if they had to think for themselves? I think many would sink into a state of anomie. The net tells me that normally this would be caused by a breakdown in purpose and meaning. That with no external guidance they would be alienated and dysfunctional. I have to think that all of this is just a step away in the cyberpunk world that is enveloping us.
Now in most of the cyberpunk movies and novels there are those who rage at pressures to conform. These are the naturally born autonomous heroes, like you and me. We have to contend with a meaningless in the lives of so many around us, especially the young, whose formal education is fantastically costly, and often qualifies them to do little more than flip burgers. We remember when family used to be a centerpiece of meaning but now are attacked on all fronts and are diminishing in number, while many have vowed not to reproduce, thank God! Many of the young cyberpunkers consider the sex act to be little more in meaning than excretion.
I continue my research into Cyberpunk and conclude that there is a nihilistic movement amongst the pseudo intellectuals who hold the rank of professor, called Post Modernism that essentially denies meaning. I wonder at what hell they must live in, and hope it drives them mad. True meaning, purpose, and identity were with us when our ancestors expressed them on the walls of caves. They are with us now, in the guts of a few. In the series I am watching, Altered Carbon the heroes often end up with the promise of, Meaning, so there is something within some of us that can’t be controlled.
Reading further I come across Individual Autonomy, which refers to the capacity to be one’s own person, to live one’s life according to reasons and motives that are taken as one’s own and not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces. And that sounds good to me. So I have to ask, how did the hero, who is juxtaposed with a dystopian culture, gain the inner guidance system that would allow him freedom?
As you know that is the point of the 1eye Life-System, so maybe I am helping a little. But that might be self-serving and delusional. Perhaps the autonomous heroes are born, and not made? If so I will continue my efforts, and comfort myself with the thought that my material will make them/you stronger in this time of Cyberpunk.