A moment that captured my attention while reading was in the chapter “Big Sky,” around three page turns into it, when Alan Crowe, the magician is introduced. Each story in this graphic novel revolves around people who are exceptionally good at what they do, and Crowe seems to be no different, despite the fact that his profession is looked upon like a form of entertainment, rather than immediately given value, like the field agents, and combat specialists. His scene, which involves Crowe stating, to paraphrase it, “whatever seems like magic can be debunked,” and that talk of gods and demons is merely a mental state that can be freely tapped into. This is at least the second time that the human psyche has been explicitly touched upon in this novel, the first being the idea that humanity is defined by relationships to one another. I might be looking into this too much, but it almost seems like Warren Ellis believes that the human mind is what gives us our humanity. This is complacent with the thought that the traditional idea of cyborgs, in becoming a computer, have lost their humanity to an electronic upgrade. However, Donna Harroway’s “Manifesto for Cyborgs” argues otherwise.
Harroway’s piece in a nutshell argues that the human race is comprised entirely of cyborgs, and despite that, we still retain our humanity. “One’s being” is a generally accepted definition for humanity, but it goes deeper than that. The Manifesto says that the cyborg is “a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality.” Our human-ness is a complex of organic materials, and the materials and technologies we have devised to improve “organic” processes. Our humanity is both organic and inorganic; this duality is shown throughout the comic.
Another aspect of our humanity touched upon in this section of the novel is that of religion. Crowe says that gods and devils live in the “secret recesses of the human mind” and compares science to magic, saying that science, thought to be magic by religious followers, is what “preserved the priesthood.” Religion is a sensitive topic today, and the lack of religion is more often than not looked down upon by the majority of those who follow one. Today more than ever, though, lack of a religion is becoming quite prominent. I interpret this as our human-ness devolving: we are turning from the faith people had in that which they did not figure out quite yet to a life where people trust that there is a scientific explanation for anything and just carry on. Our technological advances and cutting-edge modern-day research has begun moving us in that direction. If Ellis wanted to disparage religion, he could have easily. This was different, in that he proposed that something about the human psyche can explain religion. This is almost a paradox – that religion’s existence and why it has stayed with us can be proven through its non-existance outside of the human mind. It is a mildly interesting side note that despite Crowe’s apparent thoughts on religion, some of the first things he says is “God is an Englishman.”