Peter M Howard ::

The Cyberpunk Educator

21November2005 [movies]
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Watched The Cyberpunk Educator, available for download. It’s an exploration of 1980s cyberpunk film and isn’t half bad. Watch out though: very long and geeky, and it’s a big download (666MB, whoo) so only get it if you have a very fast connection. Though it drags on a fair bit (about 2hrs), it got me thinking about myth again, so what follows is a bunch of random observations…

There’s lots in it about different archetypes, and the different ‘realms’ of myth. It divided myths into four types, corresponding to the seasons, and arranged on a hierarchy from the Pastoral/Good to the Demonic/Evil. I don’t entirely agree with its divisions, but some useful stuff. What I was most interested in was the different realms: the ‘pastoral’/paradise, and the demonic, and the various levels between it… There’s lots of myth about the Fall, and lots about Redemption.

And it made an observation that where in a traditional Tragedy, the fallen Hero fades away and becomes a ‘wraith’, in cyberpunk, they become a Machine. Anyway, that made me think about the role of the Machine - basically as the modern take on the world of angels and demons, meddlesome spirits and mischievous sprites. The machine ‘underworld’ in The Matrix, ruled over by the Merovingian, is not Hell, it is Hades, it is the Otherworld.

The film argued that women in cyberpunk get a mixed portrayal: often they aren’t simply the representation of home and family. Sometimes they are a part of the ‘demonic’ society of concrete and steel. I’m not entirely sure this is actually a positive portrayal though. I wonder if women playing the ‘wrong’ role is just another representation of what’s wrong with the depicted society. Women are still usually portrayed as wanting family, but being forced into a different role by an oppressive society (or oppressive circumstances — even just ‘technology’). This isn’t everywhere though, I have a feeling William Gibson’s Molly challenges stereotypes (and Trinity is based off-of her, though introduces her own quirks). Also, the simple ‘family’ link isn’t necessarily an oppressive depiction, sometimes there’s a depiction of feminine strength under the circumstances, or whatever else…

Demonic Inversion is a common storytelling technique in cyberpunk: challenges what we are told is ‘good’ (the State, the Nation, &c.), asserts that ‘bad’ is ‘better than good’. Image of Lucifer challenging God (particularly in the Gnostic myth where Lucifer does so to free mankind).

Finally, a few interesting notes about Sin and Pride as the deadliest Sin, about Lucifer, and about the Tower of Babel. Lots of material for exploration anyway. Ooh, and Icarus.

Anyway, random, but I was playing with some similarly cyberpunk ideas in the recent snippet The City, which I hope to explore further. And I’m catching some buzz on a few blogs about the Singularity again, which is related to this, The City, and Turing’s Cathedral. I plan on writing more about it soon…

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