Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spanner: Gods of Light vs. Gods of Power

The world of Spanner has two parallel worlds, known as virtual reality and dream reality, each of them with different laws (or physics) from each other and from physical reality. Anybody can be anything in virtual reality, as is well known. Dream reality is the shared reality one enters in a lucid dream or a shamanic journey; it is the home of the gods and other beings usually considered supernatural. But it is in physical reality where two tribes of gods clash. One tribe seek power over others; they take the form of corporations and are worshipped by the Corporates. The other tribe, alarmed at the danger the gods of power pose to all the realities, seek the enlightenment of others and incarnate as humans. The war between the gods of light and the gods of power parallels the world class war waged by the Corporates against the rest of humanity.

Later in the story, I'll write an episode called "Avatars" in which various characters we know in physical reality learn their (and others') identity in dream reality. Some of them (Shira, Leila, Ariel, etc.) will already know which angels, deities, and/or cosmic bodhisattvas they are in dream reality. Others will be surprised. A few will have their heads completely turned by the revelation of their dream-reality identities. A few more will find they aren't gods or angels; they, Ariel explains, are "young gods", like the divine version of children. This chapter in particular will explain the difference between the two visions of evolution that clash throughout the series: the "red in tooth and claw", "survival of the fittest" vision of the "Law of Social Darwinism", against the "higher and higher" vision and moral-advance agenda of the social evolutionists. The gods of power (the corporations and their Corporate servants/priests) are social Darwinists for whom evolution is solely the function of superior force; the gods of light are social evolutionists who see their mission as shepherding humanity through the coming transition into godhood.

The "apocalyptic" feel of the story comes from the fact that only one side can prevail, and by destroying the other. This is a "bifurcation point" in human evolution. Many religions and their clashing doctrines are represented in Spanner, but this theme of incarnate gods battling over the fate of humanity serves as a metaphor for a long-standing conflict between visions of the human future, finally come to a head. The dream-reality metaphysics here encodes a philosophy, or rather two opposing philosophies. In a sense, this is meta-commentary, since every dream contains a message (contained in the order of the events and the identity and context of the symbols), and a story is a dream for public consumption.

I bring in dream reality and the gods because of the dialectical definition of "human being" that Willa introduces early in the story: a god in the body of an ape. Some people are completely god to the point of losing touch with the world; others are pure beast, whether ape or werewolf or zombie. But the entire point of reincarnation, Ariel says, is that spirits incarnate in order to evolve. And even if human souls are not immortal, in a world governed by evolution and entropy, if you do not evolve, you decay.

As for my own beliefs: I do not believe in a Supreme Being. In fact, I'm convinced that the question of God's existence is the great pseudo-question of the ages. I don't think it matters at all whether a Supreme Being exists or not. The real question concerns the soul. After all, Immanuel Kant attempted to prove the existence of God so that he could prove the immortality of the soul. If I am agnostic about anything, it's whether the soul is immortal or not. Even so, I do not believe in Heaven and Hell; I consider this notion a form of spiritual blackmail which priests use to coerce obedience to kings. If there is no God and the soul is immortal, then reincarnation and karma are far more likely to be true. But of course we don't know, so it's a safe bet to live as if we've got only one life and this is it. Or that's my wager, in answer to Pascal's...

Back to Spanner’s World...

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