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Esoterism, philosophy, science-fiction, mythology, symbolism and more in media

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by deepstrasz, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. deepstrasz


    Map Reviewer

    Jun 4, 2009
    I'll start with The Matrix series.

    These movies are about a virtual reality in which people's minds dwell (as in sort of a trance/dream state) whilst their bodies are locked separately in fluid chambers which keep them alive until their biological death or sudden death on the virtual reality software's crash. The humans are connected to the system through metallic plugs into the back of their heads. The DNA structure has been altered in order for mankind to be part human, part machine.
    The system works incessantly if not for uncalculated/unforeseen bugs which may end in totally resetting/rehashing it. The program is specifically made for people to adapt to it psychologically. This means, that it is not an utopia, neither a dystopia but somewhere in the middle, like "real" life in our world. It is monitored by programs which have an effect on the perception of humans therein. Some people might experience reality lapses which disturb the system and the sentinels of the virtual world need to take "physical" action inside it to make sure those people do not wake to reality. If they do, their lives are modified so that they become crippled or lose some of their functions without other people noticing this as curious in the system. In extreme cases rebels are annihilated because of lack of proper control.

    (So far, we've seen a lot of themes like:
    -a possible exploitation of the human race by a sovereign higher/advanced entity;
    -questions whether the world we live in today is real or not;
    -perception of people and the world in general, if it has an influence on us or we on it, if it really exists as a place where many consciousnesses dwell together or it's only our mind that dwells into a subconsciously created plane of existence;
    -dreams and their meaning, if they are a form of reality or just influenced by our awaken state;
    -life after death, if we truly totally die or just our bodies;
    -transhumanism, cyborg era, the possibility to replace lost limbs, to enhance the human thought, to suppress pain for the terminally ill by creating a virtual reality for them;
    -Big Brother and oppressive ruling systems and the rebellion against them (be it intellectual or physical), the hiding of many wrongdoings though means of mass-media, blackmail and manipulation, elimination of the ruling opposition by any means necessary step by step.)

    Humanity advanced so much that it created sophisticated AI/robots to take care of many daily tasks and jobs. Not only that but they even tried replicating humans as androids. The difference between people and robots is that the first are prone to corruption, greed and other actions based more on their instincts and passions while the latter can only be corrupted by viruses/programming inconsistencies their functionality being based on rationality.
    There were AI sympathizers and haters. Many of the machines had to be destroyed in an effort or conspiracy to avoid them taking over humanity. Others became smarter and realized that humanity can be their downfall even if they created them and "had every right" over them. Some machines rebelled against their masters for free will.
    Events lead to mass destruction of "conscious" robots and isolation of remaining ones in a huge graveyard in a desert of the planet. There, the AI created its own country which over time surpassed humanity's economy and technological advancements. Realizing what this could mean to them, the human factions agreed they should dispose of the uncontrollably developing artificial intelligence. As a first attempt to annihilate the AI, they bombarded their city with nuclear warheads which failed due to their resistance against heat and radiation. The main source of energy for the robots was the sun's light and radiation. Humanity covered the sky with dark clouds of nanites and waged war upon the robots. To their surprise, even without the sunlight, the AI was far more technical and had an advantage over humans also needing the sun. They were also faster learners, evolving like insects, thus surpassing many difficulties created by humanity against them, like for instance using biological warheads.
    Due to the fact that the solar energy could not be accessed on a massive basis anymore, the machines found another way to gain their necessary energy, from human bodies. They studied them, altered their structure so that they symbiotically fit/connect with them, the machines. Thus, the chambers of forced dreaming and the virtual reality were created. Humanity could be reproduced almost infinitely to further the AI's goals.

    (From here we can also gather:
    -mankind's desire to infinite advancement, to utopia, to become godlike (+god complex);
    -slavery and the fight against it;
    -the slave/creation becoming the master;
    -misconception of authority over conscious entities;
    -rationality over emotions;
    -communism of mind without contradiction but still evolution and fast;
    -differences of opinion, a debate which many times leads to conflict;
    -identity issues, what is the mind if not what its body makes it be perceived like? A sacred being, a monstrosity? Who makes the rules and how do they apply, based on what/whom?
    -conspiracy theories, truth or delusions;
    -uselessness and its result, the disposing of the unneeded;
    -fear of the unknown, of evolution, of surpassing current conditions;
    -human error, its own downfall, end of days/humanity;
    -the union between mankind and its creation;
    -the finding of new sources of energy, even at the price of renouncing humanity in the process.)

    The Matrix, the virtual reality created by the machines to enslave humanity and exploit them as a means of energy source, is a system of programs of which two are the basis.
    The Oracle, the one with intuitive calculation means which can "foresee" events has developed what is called the prophecy of the One, a person who will be able to bend the Matrix at will, however, not totally unrestrained. This messiah will give humanity hope and prepare the virtual reality for future resets. To do this, the connection between the One and the Source Code is required. Doing this, the saviour will be given the option to choose a few number of males and females who will not be part of the Matrix but will live naturally in a place underground called Zion. These people will be the ones to connect to the Matrix in hopes of liberating the enslaved against the will of the machines. Little do they know that their haven will be destroyed and rebuilt/repopulated every time the One connects with the Source Code believing this would save humanity (in a way it does but it does not change the overall condition of mankind). This sacrifice of the One happens regularly, it is a cycle. The Oracle has a sort of a will of its own, it is contrasting the Architect, the rational calculating software responsible for the One's connection with the Source Code and with destroying Zion every cycle. He is also the father-creator of the Matrix whilst the Oracle is considered the mother.
    (I'm cutting it a bit short now)
    The system is protected by a program called Agent Smith, it is a sort of positive virus which can multiply overwriting the virtual bodies of humans. Because the One defeats it, it should be deleted. However, it just ends up becoming rogue, hence a negative virus capable of its own "will".
    The One is an anomaly of the system which the Architect keeps in check every cycle convincing the anomaly to reset the Matrix. Well, in the last Matrix film, Neo (the current One) did what he wanted, went to save his love Trinity, instead of doing what the Architect advised, thus defying the cycle's end. He fails and so facing the AI in its haven, the protagonist is confronted with still having to sacrificially connect to the Source Code but with a deal struck: all people who wish to get out of the Matrix are set free. To get to this, Neo had to eliminate the virus that Agent Smith became (even corrupting the Oracle and taking control over some machines and even a human being outside of the Matrix; the program becomes nihilistic).

    (What we could have here is:
    -the rooms of the mind, each with its role, the rational and the emotional or intuitive;
    -the messiah, a main figure of Abrahamic religions but not only, also seen in Indian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism;
    -the cyclicity/permanence of life (samsara/reincarnation)/the universe, escaping from the illusory life state, seen mostly in Indian religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism but also in Christian Gnosticism;
    -godly deception, salvation/redemption not being what it is said/promised to be;
    -belief of achieving greatness with actual impact, free will;
    -nihilism especially after feeling betrayed by your own system or after reaching a high point of knowledge (is the torturer of the soul), seeking "revenge" in a destructive manner rather than autodestructive;
    -impact of ideologies on the masses;
    -the basis for life/balance: the opposite forces, dualism;
    -opposing the sovereignty, the rules (remaking them), the creator;
    -the state of being expendable and easily replaced, not unique, and the state of actually being unique;
    -hope that a difference can be made even if on a small level.)


    You can comment and add anything you want from any game, movie, book, song or whatever fits this thread.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  2. Naze


    Arena Moderator

    Nov 12, 2007
    Recently I've come to think that this is becoming tiresome as a too recurrent theme in futuristic fiction. As if all the authors are more biased to create a dark "transhumanistic/cyborg era" setting with heavy influences from Orwell's 1984 than anything else. Surely it's a good theme, and The Matrix is an example of a good approach, mainly because it went further on and added a lot of depth to other aspects of the narrative, such as you could discuss it in a long list of various points in your post. Thing is, some authors get rather lazy and come up with a whole story/setting/universe based solely on the panopticon metaphor, giving a bland and uninspired feel to the audience (well, at least for me). Oops it seems I just ranted haha.
  3. GhostThruster


    Jul 24, 2009
    i recommend Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 anime movie), if you want to see a less pessimistic view of humanity's relationship with technology. the final act of the film basically concludes that mankind and machines mixing is the next step in our evolution.

    don't have much time to dissect any works in depth, so i'll just mention a couple that i really liked:
    • Gattaca - 1997 film. it's not as philosophy-laden as the Matrix films, but it does provide a lot of social commentary. it's got an optimistic message too, despite the clinical, dystopian setting
    • SOMA - video game (SOMA). explores the Ship of Theseus paradox to the utmost level, questions what it means to be sentient and conscious
    i don't really care too much for biblical references/symbolism. at this point, it's like the easy way out to instill "depth and meaning" into a sci-fi work. i've never given the Matrix much credit in this regard, but that's just me.

    i wrote a short story very much inspired by the Cyberpunk genre: Liquidator: a cyberpunk short story
    it's got bits and pieces of symbolism. if you're interested, give it a read and tell me what you think
  4. Lord Siler

    Lord Siler

    Mar 24, 2017
    I don't have much to add to this thread, but deepstraz please keep it going, its some interesting stuff .
  5. These are few of the prominent themes in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. They use the myth of Icarus and his literal downfall to symbolize what happens when humanity, in a way, tries to ascend to godhood, by taking control over the course of evolution with physical and neural augmentations. When the public became convinced that tempering with nature in such a way is too dangerous (due to a certain incident involving people with augments), they rejected the idea entirely and started singling out those already augmented.

    There are also themes related to secret organizations and corporate espionage, as well as protagonist's struggle to accept augments and his fear of how they may change him. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven't already. I have yet to play the original though.
  6. deepstrasz


    Map Reviewer

    Jun 4, 2009
    StarCraft franchise, part I.

    Throughout time and the universe the Xel'Naga, a race of technically and psychically superadvanced beings, have seeded life in attempt to shape it into the perfect life form. They came out of the void of space to a suburb zone of the Milky Way called the Koprulu sector to a planet named Aiur and there, they've bioengineered a race of creatures which would ultimately be known as the protoss (firstborn). They improved the development for many long years and from a race of mere humanoid creatures living in tribes, protoss came to form an intellectually advanced tribe society. The protoss were able to telepathically communicate to each other as they had no ways of speaking. The Xel'Naga supervised their progress from outer space for millennia. The firstborn, became highly intellectual and so their creators decided to make themselves known to them. As time passed and the protoss tribes became smarter, they've alienated themselves even from their creators and became proud of their own achievements. Thus, the telepathic link between them grew thinner and paranoia over their creators' affairs appeared. The Xel'Naga were displeased with their failure and prepared to depart. Their creations warred against them. As their former gods left, the firstborn, with their communal psionic link and peacefulness lost, became warmongers and the tribes turned on each other (mostly separated into two factions: those longing for the Xel'Naga's return and those hating them) thus the Aeon of Strife began.

    Khas, a protoss who had studied the artifacts the Xel'Naga left behind, the Khaydarin crystals, has learned many of their "secrets" by psionically/telepathically and physically accessing their power/information. Thus, he had restored the former communal link between the tribes by teaching new generations of firstborn how to use their insight and access the link to see over their petty conflict. This link was then called the Khala, a psionic force able to transmit every member's feelings to one another. Hence, the strife had ceased and unity had been restituted. From a tribal society it turned to a caste system. They had advanced so much to the point of intergalactic travel. Many worlds were conquered and colonized. At some point in their expansion, the protoss decided to become keepers and protectors of life in the universe without directly interfering into their evolution.
    Not all tribes adhered to the Khala believing the ruling body (Judicator caste) could profit from the possible mass manipulation over the entire population. The Conclave (the Judicator organization formed of elders) sought to keep the rebels and their annihilation a secret to avoid the spread of the threat to adherent Khala members. Members of the Templar caste lead by Adun have been sent to hunt the heretics down. However, they did not have the will to eliminate them. The Conclave, to avoid publicity of the rogues, sent the rebels away from Aiur. In a manner of opposition, these rogues that would eventually be known as the Dark Templar, cut off their nerve cords ("hair") to forever be disconnected from the Khala. Because of this, they had to find new ways of using energies and succeeded in utilizing the coldness of the void, whilst the Khalai tempered with their inner and communal power.

    Humanity came to the sector and they were watched upon by the firstborn. They were amazed at how fast they developed in the new found land even with infighting going on. However, they were displeased with their lack of equilibrium of resource and nature maintenance but would not interfere due to their nonagression over lesser life law. This would soon have had to be broken as a protoss scouting fleet lead by Tassadar found biological space faring organisms at the galaxy's rim. They were responsive to Khaydarin crystals and seemed to programmed to eradicate humanity and evolve. The conclusion had been that these could have been scouts of a force related to the Xel'Naga and could have posed a serious threat to the sector. A terran colonial world, Chau Sara, was seen covered by what seemed to be a biological mass and the inhabitants either dead or mutated. The Conclave decided the world should be burnt, therefore Tassadar had to heartbrokenly obey. The terran replied with a spacecraft fleet assault. Tassadar withdrew not wanting to also eliminate the terrans in the process of purging the new alien threat.

    -a scientific approach to creationism through means of extraterrestrial bioengineering, combining creationism with the evolution theory;
    -obsessive evolution and racial development through any means;
    -dilemma of who made the maker(s);
    -other life on other planets and quite different than what is on Earth;
    -telepathy as a main source of communication;
    -influence of extraterrestrials in the development and monitoring of other races;
    -meeting the maker, rebuking the maker, trying to eliminate the maker and possibly take its place;
    -god complex of the created (paradox or cycle);
    -failure of the creator;
    -religion vs nonreligion (theism vs nontheism), a never ending controversy;
    -the Biblical Moses who unites the people under one God/force;
    -crystals as a source of scientific and not magical power;
    -communism with caste system;
    -spiritual and technological advancement through peace;
    -protection of inferior life forms, taking the role of a sort of god imposing laws to others;
    -manipulation of the masses by the higher class;
    -fighting the power, against the loss of identity/individualism;
    -treating the populace with inferiority, not being transparent;
    -honour and mercy, self projecting, understanding of different opinions;
    -the exile and oppression of minorities;
    -survival instinct and adaptation to new ways of life;
    -recklessness of humanity in depleting of resources and destroying nature and the ecosystem with pollution, war and other means for their selfish gains;
    -extraterrestrial threat;
    -the chosen ones as delusion;
    -sacrifice of other people/lives for your people even in a genocidal manner;
    -disobeying orders/superiors as an honourable mean to avoid death of innocents.)

    Thousand of light years distance from Aiur, the Xel'Naga reached the ashworld of Zerus and tried a different approach to their genetic perfection research program. They engineered small insectoid life forms which developed resistance to intense heat. These worm-like creatures then gained the ability to infest other animals on the planet and take control over their bodies and ultimately extracting their genetic code. With many hosts over time, these self rapidly evolving creatures known as the zerg mutated to adapt to various conditions and searched for new genetic material to incorporate. Any lesser species was eliminated; soon the zerg became more than insectoid, an amalgam of creature genetic codes.

    To make sure that an incident like with the protoss would not repeat, the Xel'Naga created a huge zerg composite, the Overmind, a supermind to control all other zerg. At first, it was half-conscious and integrated all zerg needs but over time it gained character and will. The force under the Overmind was known as the Swarm. Their leader used intermediaries to gain a proper hold over all zerg. It created the Cerebrates, massive zerg resembling the original ones, which took various roles: defense, attack, analyze genetic strands. Each of these generals had their own lesser swarm to fulfill their tasks. The Cerebrates thereafter created their own agents without overriding the Overmind's will.

    The zerg sovereign calculated the conclusions of Zerus' genetic material being depleted and so reached with its psionic mind power throughout space and luckily it attracted gigantic space faring creatures. These were then assimilated into the zerg fold and the Swarm developed space travel. The Overmind became aware of the Xel'Naga and cut the psionic link between them and being driven by the infinitesimal lust for genetic evolution, set the Swarm out to infest the Xel'Naga. So, were the zerg creators assimilated with the addition of gaining information on the protoss and the Khaydarin crystals. On their way towards the Koprulu sector, the zerg assimilated any life forms deemed important. However, the Overmind knew the strength of the protoss psionics and terribly desired to find a way to counter such prowess. To the zerg's luck or chance, humanity, with psionic potential, had been found. Not only that, but the terran would become an addition to the already vast armies of the Swarm. After invading some human colonial planets, the zerg were struck by the protoss and the Overmind laid in wait to learn more about both adversaries.

    (Here we could have:
    -repetition of the same mistake, not learning from errors;
    -bioorganism adaptation to various factors;
    -intelligent parasitic race;
    -the all controlling supermind/supercomputer;
    -gaining/advancing sentience through evolution;
    -separation of a brain's tasks to different parts of it;
    -pyramidal chain command;
    -mind communism/hive mind;
    -passions over rationalization or different type of reasoning;
    -space faring animals, a possibility;
    -exploitation of other races for means of gains;
    -fighting fire with fire;
    -war as a game.)

    Humanity on Earth evolved not only on a technological (cybernetics) level but also psychically (genetic mutations). However, the populace reached about 20 billion and resources became scarce. Conflict stirred between humanists and corporatists which lead to a state police masked under enlightened socialism through a worldwide organization called the United Powers League (UPL). Large attempts to eliminate racial separatism and religions were made. English became the global language and many native ones were banned or lost. The UPL secretly believed in some sort of divinity thus taking action against nonbiological prosthetics, genetic mutations and any other kind of unnatural augmentation as it was considered to affect humanity. 400 million people were annihilated for not going by the rules and the media made sure to deceive the populaces as best as it could. Meanwhile, the UPL made technological advancements in the field of rocket science thus enabling mankind to colonize other planets.

    An influential scientist called Doran Routhe dreamed of having humanity go beyond the terran sector in search of new resources and so, used 56k UPL prisoners to be trained for cryogenic sleep in order to send them farther into the vastness of space in hopes of colonization. Only 40k made it to be put into four supercarriers which included the necessary supplies for when they would've reached their target. Contact with the carriers was lost along with data being erased and they fared thirty years through space. After 28 years, the engines melt and the carriers' AI had to take them to the nearest habitable planets. One of the carriers crashed and all of its crew died. The remaining ones reached a planet each: Umoja, Moria and Tarsonis. The crews awoke and set out to adapt to the current conditions. With no knowledge of each other they started anew and in 60 years they've reached space travel.

    Tarsonis was first to settle colonies on other planets and formed the Confederacy. Moria, the mining planet, became suspicious of the newly formed organization's goals. Struggle for resources made the two conflict each other. After four years of strife, the Confederacy took the upper hand and gained control over the mining planet. Umoja created a force called the Protectorate in order to be prepared for any quarrel with the Confederacy. As the federation expanded, so did pirates and rebels. Korhal, one of the Confederacy's most valuable production planets, became tired of the ruling system and its frequent corrupt ways and so rioted. Tarsonis initialized the martial law which further grew the rebellion with the senator Angus Mengsk rallying the people to overthrow the tarsonian authority on Korhal. To be certain that no other important colony would do the same, Tarsonis took inhuman measures. First they've sent assassins called Ghosts to decapitate Mengsk and his family leaving their bodies in front of the governmental building. The only senator's living son, Arcturus Mengsk was a prolific confederate prospector. Finding out about the tragedy bestowed upon his family, he went on the road of vengeance. Forming a sort of guerrilla organization, Mengsk succeeded in draining the Confederacy of manpower and money step by step. Fearing an alliance between the rebellious groups and Umoja, Tarsonis fired 1000 nuclear warheads on Korhal instantly killing 4 million. Thus, Arcturus oficially founded the Sons of Korhal to further his vengeance on the Confederacy. He was depicted as a mad terrorist by the tarsonian media.

    (And here:
    -world pollution, overpopulation, resource depletion;
    -installment of a police state under the mask of a pro-people political movement;
    -racial, cultural and religious differences removal, one global language, the new world order;
    -repeating of history, totalitarian state, genocide, groups discrimination;
    -manipulation through media;
    -FTL travel, cryogenic hybernation and space colonization of uninhabitable and Earth-like planets;
    -experimentation on prisoners;
    -losing track of roots, starting anew on unfamiliar territory;
    -dependable AI development;
    -faster evolution/advancement when there is predisposition;
    -never ending power struggle/fight for supremacy, infighting, conflict of interest;
    -fake politics;
    -fighting oppressive ruling bodies;
    -horrifying the populace with murder of certain, usually important/renown people;
    -nuclear wars and their result;
    -vengeance by any means necessary and the change/consumption of the person desiring it.)