Found thought: Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.
The landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe V Wade, that granted women the right to abortion, was overturned on June 25, 2022.
The ruling died young, roughly for 49 years.
We wait with bated breath to find which other rulings would this particular Supreme Court demolish.
I watched “Archive”, a 2020 British science fiction, primarily because a reading of Kazio Ishiguro’s “Klara and the Sun” has struck a chord in my brain about artificial intelligence and what Ishiguro suggests are its innate humanity.
“Archive” is about a roboticist whose pregnant wife dies in a car crash, a car that he was driving and had taken his eyes off the road while distracted by a minor argument with his wife. The argument was about immortalizing the dead through consciousness transfer.
After his wife’s death, the roboticist, retreats to a facility in a Japanese wilderness. The facility is owned by a corporation called “archive”. Archive stores consciousnesses (for a hefty price, of course) with which the client can have 200 hours of conversation after the loved one dies. While working at the facility, the roboticist secretly developed a fifth generation AI into which he plots to pour his dead wife’s consciousness, so they can be “together forever”. The fifth generation AI unfortunately (for the roboticist) develops her very own consciousness, independently of the roboticist’s design. With her consciousness she (this AI has a clear gender) falls in love with her maker and wants him to be his “forever”.
After some tense moments in the movie, the fifth generation AI agrees to become what she resentfully calls the “vessel” of her rival’s consciousness (the AI is jealous of the wife).
However, there is also an approximation to some kind of dramatic irony in the movie’s plotline. Remember, M. Night Shyamalan’s classic of dramatic irony, “Sixth Sense”? Literally the dead man walking has no consciousness of his own death and walks around believing he is alive while others think of him as dead. Only the child in the movie can “See” him as he is gifted with a sixth sense of seeing the invisible. The child says, “I see dead people all the time”. The incredulous ghost’s final “anagnorisis” (recognition or discovery) of his true state of being jolts him back to a terrible truth that he had thus far avoided accepting. At the end of “Sixth Sense” we see what we should have seen all along. The revelatory machinery was there, concealed cleverly in the film’s genius artifice of storytelling.
Back to “Archive”. At the end, after the fifth generation AI is supposedly filled with his wife’s consciousness, the roboticist gets a phone call from his wife. The AI, who evidently only pretends to have received someone’s consciousness, warns the roboticist not to pick up the phone. He however does and the wife informs him from the other end that she is now moved on to accept his death with finality and would from now on live for the child that misses his father. She puts the child on the phone and the child prattles “daddy, I love you”. The roboticist is shocked beyond words. We are supposed to infer from this one scene that it’s he who had died in the car crash and his wife lived on to raise their child.
There is nothing in the film’s machinery, implied or stated, that leads to this end. In other words, there is a singular absence of the ex post facto dramatic irony, which was the gift of “Sixth Sense”.
The attempt to inject a bit of the sixth sense into the AI is an abysmal failure. No dialogue or thought is attributed to the AI to suggested that she had a sixth sense of seeing the dead.
I wish “Archive” were totally about the AI’s consciousness. The ending left me confused and I had to read a Wikipedia entry on the film to fathom the ending.
Intellectuals like Bell Hooks (Died, December, 2021) and Gloria Steinem (88 and still going) don’t deceive us with rhetoric and manipulation. Their feminism is built on direct experience of growing up in an America in the 50s and 60s in Toledo, Ohio, for Steinem and in the Kentucy Appalachia for Hooks, named Gloria Jeans at birth.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s (don’t know why we have to capitalize this entity) overturning of Roe v Wade, this conversation between the two stalwarts is refreshing and eye-opening, though the conversation took place in 2014 at the Eugene Lang School of Literature and Language, The New School, New York.
I see the point that Susan Faludi makes in a recent article in the New York Times, “Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain with Celebrity Culture“. In the early 21st century, celebrities, who are not known to have developed voices that are grassrooted, had coopted women’s rights issues. The frivolity and the inanity of what they said is gut-wrenching:
Miley Cyrus: “I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women not to be scared of anything.”
Katie Perry: “I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.”
Kendall Jenner, Emma Watson, Beyonce, and the list goes on. Then as Faludi observes, the celebrity din was complemented by the corporate din highlighted by those (in)famous words from Sheryl Sandburg to “lean in”.
Grassroots feminism is all but disappeared and the triple boobed and double lipped Pamela Anderson said it’s got “boring” (she was not alluding to celebrity and corporate-endorsed caption-mongering, I am sure, but to the thought of women’s power, of their equal status in the workplace, of the reproductive justice for women of color and poverty).
But listening to Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks, it’s evident, at least to me, that feminism was never and is not “boring” or defunct in a free-market economy, where the capitalist state and corporations work hand in hand to denude common people of power in most extraordinary but hidden of ways. Feminism is gravely misunderstood as a “man-hating” ideology. In addition to Steinem’s exquisite verbalizing of how inclusive yet equal a world order feminism envisages, Bell Hooks adds with humor the place of black women in the white feminist spectrum.
Let not the image above, mislead you into thinking that the 2011 Bollywood blockbuster “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” (Can be translated into an infinite number of carpe diem ish mantras, but I will settle with the sober “You Only Live Once”) pivots to a red revolution brought about by muscular, bare-chested communists and their svelte flunkeys.
The movie preaches the precise opposite. Instead of inspiring any meaningful restructuring of India’s explosive inequality, the film obliviates India altogether. It’s set entirely in Spain. The traces of India remain in the characters and some mild references to family, tradition and marriage. But those traces are nipped in the chrysalis.
Bollywood metamorphoses into Barcelona wood.
To be fair however, in breaking away from the soil, “Zindagi” is far from being a pioneer. On the other hand, it’s been somewhat of a tradition in Bollywood to escape India, especially since the 1990s. But in a majority of the out-of-India Indian movies, there are degrees of tethering and the experiencing of the Indian self in foreign climes has retained some basic Indianness in one form or another.
In “You Only Live Once” there is very little tethering to speak of. The characters live in London and travel to Spain in search of themselves, or to free themselves from their conventional Indian selves.
The rain in Spain falls now on Bollywood plain?
“Schools scared to death. The truth is, one education under desks, Stooped
low from bullets; That plunge when we ask Where our Children Shall Live & how & if,
It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again
and again and do nothing is not just insanity–it’s inhumanity…the truth is,
one nation under guns. What might we be if only we tried.
What might we become if only we’d listen.”
Amanda Gorman’s verse on Twitter in response to the mass murder of elementary school children in Uvalde, Texas.
The larva series never ceases to bring joy.
Listen to Arundhati Roy speak about the world on the “other side” of the portal of comorbidities, alt-right, Moditva, death, hatred and her least favorite vampire-bitch–corporate capitalism.
…and the price Ukranian women have to pay as victims of Russia’s heinous war crime.
A short history of the word:
“The word “genocide” was invented in the context of World War II by the émigré Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin — an amalgam of the Greek word “genos” (“tribe or race”) and the Latin word “cide” (“killing”). A refugee, Dr. Lemkin credited the idea to his student days at the law faculty in the Polish city of Lwow (today Lviv, in western Ukraine, recently subject to attacks from Russia) as a reaction to intergroup strife, with the hope of creating a category of crime under international law to protect groups. The term first appeared in November 1944 in his book “Axis Rule,” and the following year, because of Dr. Lemkin’s persistence, it was part of the Nuremberg trial, as an example of a war crime”.