Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Inner Universe of a Stand Alone Complex

At first Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was very hard to watch. I can no longer truthfully say that I identify with the State and with "good guys" in films or tv shows. Too often, cop shows, battle between Good and Evil echo for me the current War on Terror and other violent policies of globalization and American (and other nations as well) policing. At first I saw Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as just another lame screen upon which the fantaises for the War on Terror get acted out. The State and its agents are technologically advanced, often times too technologically advanced, the cyborgs don't even know their own strengths sometimes, the slightest hit causing shattering damage. Their enemies are either poorly equipped, trained or organized multitudes of terrorists or societal discontents, or they are faced with a lone singular enemy who is uniquely more savy and threatening, who often times stands in for the State's excess (the Tank for example which was attempting to return home) or represents the excess of the State (or society) which it cannot control or ever fully master, and has the ability to undermine everything. (think invisible biological super agent, or think super hacker who can crash the whole system as in Fight Club).

After watching about half a dozen episodes I was intrigued by it, much in the way that the films Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence intrigued me, because of their ontological inquiry.

Thus the show is interesting because it is very explicitly ontological inquiry. Not just, what is existence (or the essence that existence seems to require?), but also what is resistance? The idea of "stand alone complex" itself is interesting not because it is so very different than existence no, but more so because it represents how frighteningly enough things may have always been. We never had that existence which to use Western philosophical language was without the taint of a split or a break. Perhaps they were different splits or breaks, but there was never any world of interrupted existence where we fully identified with anything.

In the world of Stand Alone Complex the State in its power and vision seems unsurpassable. But even away from the State, the technological advances themselves seem to destroy our very existences (or rather innocences), as a quote from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence makes clear when it connects our reality as a manifestation of a DNA or a biological blueprint and then makes the claim that as such, our feelings, desires, loves, hopes and dreams must be such as well.

Does the act of Ethan Hawke in Gattaca when he "accidentally" loses Uma Thurman's hair during their courting stage thus indicate the limits of humanity? Is humanity thus based on an unavoidable contract through which we can only know so much? Humanity exists so long as their is that gap, that end to inquiry. Is this our legacy from Kant when he attached human freedom to this very limit? That to go beyond that, into the Universal, into the Real would mean the loss of the subject, the loss of freedom, the reduction of the human to nothing more than a puppet who is moved by the knowledge of God, or a machine who is nothing more than the product of his blueprints? To return to Uma Thurman's hair, if Ethan Hawke had it analyzed, and thus learned who and what she really is, would love then become impossible between them? It is an interesting question, which I have plenty of answers to...

Because of the apparent unsurpassability of the State and of Science in Stand Alone Complex it hosts a wide array of interesting ethical characters. I of course don't refer to any of the main characters such as The Major, Batou or Togusa, but instead the maladjusted folk they are sent to detain, take down and destroy. Given the hopelessness of their resistance of their situation, yet their decision to none the less resist, their tragic failures become romantic and enchanting. Their "suicides" becomes a bold and powerful ethical choice, precisely because the choice was taken in recognition of hopelessness, and not run away from, bargained against or denied.

But then in another way, their is something in their fidelity which comes out through the ruminations of The Major and sometimes the discoveries of Togusa. Through them we learn of a secret fidelity, something in those that have acted, have died that we cannot help but admire, because of the unfathomable content. A decision which shattered the obvious choices. In the episode with the Tank for example, we are lead to the statement of Batou at the end that he must have really hated his parents, and that's why after getting his brain transfered into a state of the art tank he fought his way to their home. But The Major who fried the Tanks brain when they saw him attempting to attack his parents, notes meloncholically to something else, something different. Something other than love and hate, life and death. A statement which breaks the obvious binary through which Batou represents the Tank's life and choice. Did he have his brain transfered so that he could continue to live? So that he could take his veangence on his parents for keeping him (because of religious reasons) from getting a prosthetic body? When The Major recounts his final fleeting thought to his parents of look at my metal body, Batou remarks that is nothing. But we know that it isn't nothing, there is something in that statement that leads us to an act by virtue of the difficulty in accounting for it, we must admire it (even if we decide to dismiss it as useless).

My analysis for this was pretty crappy I know. I've been busy with my master's thesis at UCSD and so its taken up alot of my time and brain capacity. I'm very into song lyrics lately and so naturally I was drawn to the theme song for Stand Alone Complex and hopefully another time when I have more energy would like to analyze it more closely. Until then, here they are:

Inner Universe
by Yoko Kanno

English Translation

Angels and demons were circling above me
Breaking the hardships and starry ways*
The only one who doesn't know happiness
is the one who couldn't understand its call

I am Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
Calling Calling, in the depth of longing
I am Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
To stay myself longer...

Stand alone... Where was life when it had a meaning...
Stand alone... Nothing's real anymore and...

...Endless run...
While I'm alive, I can try not to fall while flying,
Not to forget how to dream... how to love
...Endless run...

Calling Calling, For the place of knowing
There's more that what can be linked
Calling Calling, Never will I look away
For what life has left for me
Yearning Yearning, for what's left of loving

Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
To stay myself longer...
Calling Calling, in the depth of longing
To stay myself longer...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for posting these lyrics up in ENGLISH!I LOVE ghost in the shell a lot.I'm just starting to get into it!I've got the opening theme,I just wanted to know what the song meant....In ENGLISH!Keep posting new stuff,and fan fiction,too!Your website is just like mine!I put lyrics up,too!Keep posting lyrics!I'm going to tell my friends to come to YOUR website,too!Thanks A Bunch!Bye!


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