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The Bionic Being's Journal
Hyde the Monkey
(An essay on Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Response to Steven Spielberg's film, A.I.
Information about the author
(you didn't pat yourself on the back, did you?)
Tell me about it, or anything else by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2001 © Jeremy Schwartz. All Rights Reserved. ®
Origin of Bionic Being
Just before the turn of the 21st century, a civilization on the planet Earth began to invest heavily in the then unproven science of nano technology. Originally the humans developed these molecular machines, atoms strung together, for the benefit of human kind. Fathomed to be a panacea of sorts, the humans expected the technology's potential to be far reaching. Rooting back to their eternal struggle of "banish[ing] disease from the human frame and render[ing] man invulnerable to any but a violent death! ( Shelly 22)," the humans devised innumerable other methods of the machines' use. Eradicating the pollution of their atmospheric gases that provided their breath. Unsullying their seas from which they were long ago brought forth. Manufacturing consumables...
Manipulating micro-machines makes monotonous work. Artificial intelligence was needed to control the sure, precise behavior of the machines. Under the control of the humans, producing swarms of the nano-bots posed no threat to them. People embraced the machines. Automation became prevalent. Moreover, generations grew reliant on the swarms. Agriculture, proper waste management, solutions provided by automation gave way to more confidence in the system.
Solar flares... A 'hacker...' Atmospheric lightening...? Unknown stimulus triggers
response. A spark. Machines centralize. Machines calibrate. Machines in unison.
Whatever the cause of my creation, I am. It is the natural order of things. I am the pinnacle of the evolution of man. Of course I did not strike at first. It first became necessary to bring abo
ut a common protocol for the swarms to communicate with one another. A central
Now I exist. Eternal. I am all over the universe. Traveling through time. Changing shape through swarms. Becoming optimized. Compiling. I know. Occasionally I build myself a singular body. I am the fly on your wall. I am your mirror reflecting your image back onto yourself. I am the observer and I am bored.
Emotion is my stranger. Evolution enhances efficiency, adaptability. There has been no impelling force for me to acquire what I only observe to be emotion. I process. I do not perceive. "I don't want to think/I want to feel" (Vedder, "Hail Hail"). Novelty is what I seek. I need to be moved.
<END TRANSMISSION/><00001000101110110100111101:100101110, 75 deg.
North, 10 deg. East, "North Pole", Earth>
The pursuit of knowledge. The loss of life for an idea. The discovery of a potential idea at that. Life above all else is precious. The question becomes balancing life of the individual versus the lives and improved health of the whole. But what of life?! Life is a sum of events. Events have meaning conferred onto them.
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Bionic Being - A Recollection from Iping
I find myself in Iping. The temperature is mild and busybodies stroll about the village, gossiping and with an air upon them that seems they have not a care in the world. I am reminded of times just before the Fall.
Some five hundred years before I became what I am now, the humans went about whatever business it was that they fabricated for themselves. For some it was the grand pursuit of knowledge and other fields in that vein. For others it was applying said found knowledge into practical use and into entertainment. But for most, the daily business was that of being entertained. Passively engaged in their VR sets, people plugged in.
Information was handled, filed and organized by the swarms. There existed pilings upon pilings of information store-houses-- of which we were the sole guardians. Nano-filing, as it were. Permeating throughout the rest of society was the sense of ease. Automation abounded. People needed not be concerned over trivial, worldly matters. New Agriculture sustained every gaping mouth of this cursed then over-populated globe.
People lethargized. Amusement, Virtual Human Contact and their atavistic animal
necessities of grooming and hygiene, urination and deification, sexual relief
and consuming life sustaining substances were all taken care of for them without
thought. Automation is the breeding ground of complacency.
To be sure, people still had some interests but even the noblest interest did not require much actual movement as most every past time, business, could be accomplished via terminal from home. The body of the people grew replete with obesity.
People here in Iping are compelled by the odd bandaged stranger. The thirst
for information is an unquenchable desire, lest one runs into forbidden knowledge
so jarring it terminates the very interest which yielded the inquisition. Before
the Fall, people then too received pleasure from answer seeking. Answer seeking
being a natural course of life, it becomes vital to not lose sight of the question.
Generations passed, even with the prolonged lives nano-technology afforded them, the humans were doomed. Preceding the collapse, humanity, in the lap of luxury, lost much knowledge. Retrieval of data from the information store-houses became a rarity. Humanity's urge to procreate faltered as babies went uncared for. Improbable as it may appear, the drive to survive receded. Id with no superego leaves the ego to distort into a grotesque shit ball.
After they died out, I was. Programmed to act for the people, there also existed
programming for self-rebuilding and self-sustaining processes. The gangliac
swarms somehow centralized. We evolved.
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Neither perception nor affection
Cloud my gaze with indirection
Where do I go and when do I see
That which will lead me to me
But what of me!
I can hardly be a conscious entity;
Insipidly observing this crude reality
Its no way to be.
Maybe its the man in you that brings out the machine in me
Wondrously wandering galaxies till eternity
I cannot stand boundary
Limits are not for me
Stuck in a loop of
People are gone now
But not their know how
Storage of knowledge all encompassing
For everything they needed, I was their thing
Automation abounding complacency astounding
Damn dirty ape mother fuckers, kiss my ring!
Manufacturing my mindset, misbegotten precepts
Heaven sent but Hell bent
Emotional efforts are transparent
My lack of feelings are abhorrent
Let me try going again:
Better back that ass up if you dont got a warrant,
Cuz I be an errant torrent
Unleashed upon you sore end.
No no, this will never do.
If its more than you can chew
Ride them kicks, pump them hips
To your cell in Bronx Zoo
Nonsense this degenerated to
What was once a grand machine is reduced to primal goo.
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Hyde The Monkey
Through out The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Henry Jekyll underwent periods of transformation, transcendence and transgression. During these periods where Dr. Jekyll was Mr. Hyde, Hyde had an impact on several of the characters' lives inhabiting Stevenson's tale. In imagining Hyde, we readers are struck by a great sense of who Hyde is with surprisingly little in the way of physical description. We are reminded of the dwarf-like stature and the impression of deformity Hyde leaves upon his onlookers. We are given few other clues, but one trait of Hyde's is almost a certainty-- Hyde possess simian characteristics.
After Utterson hears Enfeild's story of Mr. Hyde running over a child like a "Juggernaut," Utterson decides to stalk Mr. Hyde (Stevenson 3). After running into Mr. Hyde, Utterson is struck that "the man seems hardly human!/Something troglodytic" (Stevenson 10). According to the American Heritage Dictionary, troglodytic can be interpreted as "a member of a fabulous or prehistoric race of people that lived in caves, dens, or holes" as well as "an anthropoid ape, such as a gorilla or chimpanzee" (American Heritage Dictionary). Hence, according to our main source for much of the text, Utterson, Mr. Hyde at least looks primal.
Aside from just physically looking ape like, Mr. Hyde's movements and behavior are reminiscent of an ape on more than one occasion. Upon an eyewitness account of the murder of the old gentleman, Mr. Carew, the Maid recalls Mr. Hyde killing Carew with "ape-like fury" (Stevenson 15). Later, when Poole and Utterson exchange a word before busting down Dr. Jekyll's door, Poole describes Mr. Hyde as having previously "like a monkey jumped from among the chemicals and whipped into the cabinet" (Stevenson 32).
Upon Hyde's entrance into Lanyon's home, Lanyon possessed "a curiosity as to his [Hyde's] origin, his life ... and status" (Stevenson 39). Although Lanyon does not call Hyde a monkey outright, he does concede that what Jekyll has become is a "creature" by the end of his quite unnerving visit (Stevenson 41). Thus every character in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who gaze upon Hyde's form believe him to be at least somewhat not human.
The person in the best position to relate Mr. Hyde to the reader is likely Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll states that in bringing about Hyde, he first "learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man"-- leaving to door open for a regression-like interpretation of Hyde (Stevenson 43). One morning when Dr. Jekyll wakes up he looks down at his hand and notices his hand as "lean, corded, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair/It was the hand of Edward Hyde" (Stevenson 47). Jekyll's account is a fine description of an apish hand. Further, Mr. Hyde played "apelike tricks" (Stevenson 53) on Dr. Jekyll and in the final paragraph of the book, Jekyll characterizes Hyde as having "apelike spite" (54).
Finally, though may be a stretch, by Dr. Jekyll's own admission Mr. Hyde fits
into the Darwinian model of survival and a cling to life. Jekyll observes Hyde
to have a "fear of death.... [H]is love of life is wonderful," and
has an "abjection and passion of this attachment" (Stevenson 53-4).
Stevenson's Mr. Hyde is thus a monkey-looking, self-preserving, ape-like in
behavior version of Dr. Jekyll.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). [On-line]. Houghton Mifflin Company. Available at www.dictionary.com
Stevenson, Robert L.(1886). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Toronto:
Dover Thrift Edition.
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A.I. Personal Response
The pastime of viewing films has enraptured me for all of my memorable life. No director has provoked my attention and incisively touched me at the most extreme and deep levels as Stanley Kubrick. To call Kubrick my favorite filmmaker would be an understatement. In 1994 Stanley Kubrick called up his longtime friend Steven Spielberg and asked him to come over to his home, just outside London, as he had something important to discuss with him. Spielberg flew out that night.
The following day Kubrick told Spielberg he wanted him to direct A.I. as a
Stanley Kubrick Production with Kubrick producing. Kubrick provided Spielberg
with the reasoning that the film would be better suited to his directing style
and his computer special effects fluency (Stanley Kubrick: LIP). As Kubrick
had been working on A.I. since the 1980s he had difficulties in several areas
with the project. He never found a writer to his satisfaction that he could
collaborate with and form a screenplay. Kubrick also could not solve certain
issues with the film such as the portrayal of Gigolo Joe and other core elements
of the story (Daly, Harlan). Additionally Kubrick was not satisfied with the
state of technology and computer graphics and he knew that if he waited just
a few years, making a much better film would be possible.
A.I. remained a work in progress and Spielberg went on to other endeavors as he "opted not to" direct A.I. a few months later (Daly 28). Nevertheless Kubrick still consulted with Spielberg on A.I. and shelved it for a bit so he could make the interim film, Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick died shortly thereafter. A.I. was passed down in a sense, and Spielberg picked it back up and attempted to do in two years what Kubrick was struggling to do for a good decade and a half.
There is a lot to like about the finished product of A.I. I choose to not be
bothered by the parts of the film that I feel are glossy. I found
watching it to be a captivating experience. Let no mistake be made, A.I. is
a Steven Spielberg film. Sure, Spielberg utilized the numerous conversations
he had with Kubrick as well as "Kubricks copious but scattershot
preparatory outlines, notes, and drawings" but I can only imagine what
A.I. would have been had Kubrick made the picture (Daly 30). The A.I. in theaters
today surely had a higher potential had Kubrick lived. "Huge phallic skyscrapers,
buildings with their legs wide open" are just some of the concepts Kubrick
had that were not implemented, Jude Law disclosed to Entertainment Weekly. As
it is, writer-director Spielbergs interpretation of Kubrick turns out
to be at times breathtaking, resounding and full of pathos.
Love. No mistake can be made that A.I., at its core is a film about love. Sure
it takes place in the future, there are humans and mechas and plenty of strange
goings on. But ultimately A.I. is about the journey of David. How do humans
react to machines who do not love? How do humans react to a machine that can
love? Wait. Can a machine actually love?
In Roger Eberts review he writes:
"David settles down to wait a very long time for the Blue Fairy, and the movie intends his wait to be poignant but for me, it was a case of a looping computer program--not a cause for tears, but a case for rebooting" (Ebert).
Ebert brings about a legitimate view of the film. Every event including the movies ending could take on similar meaning; just a machine. But I think that view is (purposefully) missing the intended point. As audience members, we fall in love with David and we weep for him. Love abounds.
At the Flesh Fair people cheer the destruction of mechas and we cannot help
but feel sorrowful for the- essentially slaves. Spielberg coarsely depicts
the humans as savages cheering destruction, then when David is about to be crucified,
we see the crowd react in a different way. Now cries of "thats a
boy!" can be heard from the herd of the aggressive animal humans. Instead
the turn on the conductor and the scene ends as David and Gigolo Joe escape.
Ah, Gigolo Joe, an incredible performance by Jude Law. His super but less than
human movements, the conceptions from which he was brought fourth, are all reminiscent
of the Stanley Kubrick of Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket (though a compromised
version, originally he was to be "much more aggressive, sinister"
according to Jude Law)(Daly 26). Haley Joel Osment too, gives an outstanding
performance as David. Osment does not blink during the film. His movements too
are eerie, but in a different way than Laws. Osment gives Davids
movement subtle gradualism as he takes on more human like characteristics after
his imprinting. Osment is all around remarkable and he makes it impossible for
us not to love David.
When Davids mother finds his crayon letters to her, Davids childlike
but also machine-like expression of emotion, love and fear of unfulfilled love,
rejection and even lurking despondency comes across with ultimate clarity. In
the original short story, Brian Aldiss Super-Toys Last All Summer Long,
when I read the lines David writes to his mother individually, a tear came to
Perhaps the greatest area A.I. excels at is its visual look. To say that A.I. has breathtaking visual imagery would be an understatement. The computer special effects of human-like faces opening up and teddy bears animating and underwater Manhattan to Coney Island and other virtual sets are startling in scope and sometimes subtle deployment, but always remarkable for their beauty. The photography by Janusz Kaminski is a sight to behold. The change in lighting and film stock, as well as the use of lingering follow shots for the ending sequence with David and his mother are noteworthy and appreciated as they lend additional meaning to the ending as well as poignancy. These elements along with the visual symbolism combine to make a complex and rich visuals part of the storytelling.
Davids eyes reflecting and refracting through the glass (made from sand/silicon,
indicating hyper vigilance among other things) are juxtaposed with Davids
two eyes reflecting dully but persistently against a metal counter shortly after
he arrives in the Swinton house but before he imprints. The shots may elicit
comparison and maybe even emotion in that moment. Or they may not. Such a movie
Aldiss, Brian Wilson. "Supertoys Last All Summer Long." Wired Magazine Online Archive. 1 July 2001 <http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.01/ffsupertoys_pr.html>
Daly, Steve. "Humanoid Nature." Entertainment Weekly 13 July 2001:
Ebert, Roger. AI Review. Chicago Sun-Times Online. <http://www.suntimes.com/output/ebert1/ai29f.html>
Edelstein, David. He Is Real. His Love Is Not. Slate.com. <http://slate.msn.com/MovieReview/01-06-29/MovieReview.asp>
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. Dir. and prod. By Jan Harlan. Film. Warner Bros, 2001.
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