Sunday, April 8, 2007

Postscript to God and the Machines

A quick addendum to my previous post, which was in response to a recent entry on Bob Blechman's blog, entitled Cylon Monotheism: Religion in Battlestar Galactica.

Writing has been described as a secondary symbol system, because the letters or characters (only alphabets have letters, other writing systems have characters) are symbols that stand for other symbols, specifically the written word stands for the spoken word.

Cylons, being the alphabet come to life (as discussed in my previous post), are the embodiment of a secondary symbol system that stands for the primary symbol system of speech. And what is the embodiment of that primary symbol system (you may ask)? But of course any good media ecologist can tell you the answer is us-- we human beings are the embodiment of speech, which is encoded into our genes (the potential of course, waiting to be activated by actual interaction, so that the potential is inherited, but the specific language is inherited). Writing is pure invention, the technologizing of the word as Walter Ong puts it, and as the embodiment of writing, the Cylons are secondary symbols that stand for their makers, human beings. And this means that human beings are primary symbols that stand for...?

Genesis 1:27: "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Human beings are symbols that stand for God. And the Cylons, being monotheists, want to wipe out humanity so that they can take our place as the primary symbols of God.

Setting aside the science fiction scenario, the implications of human beings being the symbols of God, or the medium of God for that matter, are worth considering. But that's a topic for another time.


Robert K. Blechman said...

Thanks, Lance, for this fantastic response. Like the child questioning on Passover, I asked a few questions and you've responded with a veritable Haggadah! I need to drink four cups of wine and think it over.

By the way, to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, geekiness in defense of media ecology is no vice!

I'll post some more related questions on my blog at shortly.

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly proud to be His/Her avatar. Well said.