Humanity and the Mind

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.”

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3 Responses to Humanity and the Mind

  1. mightymoss9 says:

    Interpreting the decreasing prevalence of religion as a devolution of humanity is a really interesting take. I would’ve thought that the development of technology and advancing the human race, albeit more towards cyborgs, would’ve been the advancement of the human race. It is really interesting to think that as we progress in technology, we are also devolving from humans, towards creatures that have no technology.

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  2. raddishspirit says:

    I feel like I would have a slightly different interpretation of what Crowe was stating. I believe that he was trying to push the idea that our experiences are our reality. By creating something unexplainable, people have no choice but to look to the divine, supernatural, or something else that can explain what just happened to them. Most of the time people make up the simplest explanation they can think of.

    Another thought I have. What makes it bad or devalue that people have shifted their faith from one explanation to another? You could argue that people still have faith in something (whether this be science or religion).

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  3. pmc9122 says:

    I would have to agree with raddishspirit on that point. I see people with as much faith that technology will answer the unanswered questions as people with who look to religion do. You could perhaps argue that the people with faith in technology have empiric science to back their assertions, but it is still as a certain level, faith. I think what is liberating about the belief that technology will continue to reveal the universe to us is that it can still do so on an infinite scale. it has allowed us to see how very little we do know, which by some strange leap, makes what we do not know less scary.

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