I. Upload And Transcend
Since Vernor Vinge’s work in the 1980s there has been a belief by some that, through an event called the singularity, mankind will in some way leave the organic temporality of this flesh and blood planet to merge with the digital data stream and ascend the eternity of space.
The singularity of man and machine, or consciousness and data, seems to be the adaptation by futurist utopians of ancient spiritual traditions whose endgame is enlightenment, or the transcendence of one’s limited human form and consciousness.
What interests me most about this lineage of evolving belief systems are not the specific details but the repetition of common themes and their overarching narratives that create universal archetypes which, like a cybernetic feedback loop, help mold and dictate the course of the human species. They are the casting of spells in our collective consciousness by the shamans of every era.
II. Mother, Earth
The mother archetype of Western culture arguably begins with the Earth goddess Gaia of the ancient Greeks: our home planet personified as a woman who raises and nurtures us. In the 1970s this idea was adapted by James Lovelock and others into a unifying theory that the planet Earth is a highly complex singular organism sustaining all of our lives: The Gaia Hypothesis. In the 20th century, the Earth once again became our expressed need of a mother to guide us, as our civilization simultaneously destroys it and seeks intervention from our short-sighted vices.
If climate change studies are to be believed, one resulting popular nihilistic narrative assumes that our poisoning of this planet will likely doom the survivors of our species to cosmic vagabondage, searching the stars for a new mother who might adopt us and nurse us back to health in her embrace. If so, the Gaia Theory of life on this planet will need to be uploaded to the artificial intelligence systems piloting our search for our next home, preserving this crucial knowledge in the substrate of our new digital consciousness.
Let us remember and preserve what it means to have a mother, to be nurtured and fed.
III. Lineages In Pop Culture and Adornment
These concepts of transcendence and the universal Mother are embodied by numerous popular science fiction stories of the hero's quest to transcend their own consciousness, many of which influence my work and this piece in particular.
Another idea explored in this piece is our human lineage symbolized by the persistence of ornamental and functional headdresses worn through the ages, from the Pharoahs in the Middle East to tribes in the West and our current and future explorers in the cosmos. The adornment of the head, the home of our internal supercomputer, the source of the mind and the mystery of consciousness, seems to be a universal human understanding and a widely adapted practice.
All historical images and cinematic stills are property of their owners and studios; please don’t sue me. Shout out to “Alien,” “Minority Report,” and “Total Recall” (2x).
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