Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tachikomas Say The Darndest Things

I never used to get into anime, because I couldn't get past the terrible voice-overs.

The anime series Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex caught my attention one night while Wort was watching, and I was puttering between the living room and the laundry room.

The series features spiderlike combat vehicles (i.e. tanks) equipped with artificial intelligence. These are called Tachikomas.

What piqued my interest that evening was a (rather one-sided) conversation about God between one of these A.I. beings and a human, Batou. This particular Tachikoma's voice sounds like that of a child about the age of five. It said:

"And you know that 'existence of God' thing that I had trouble
understanding before? I think I'm starting to understand it now.
Maybe, just maybe, it's a concept that's similar to a zero in
mathematics. In other words, it's a symbol that denies the absence of
meaning, the meaning that's necessitated by the delineation of one system
from another. In analog, that's God. In digital, it's zero."

I found myself staring at the TV with the same affectionate half-smirk that my mother always had whenever I would say something poignant when I was very young. ("Out of the mouths of babes," she'd say. I don't expect she knew the origin of that phrase, so that lends a certain irony to the moment, at least for me.)

Those who know me a little probably see me as someone who waffles between atheism and agnosticism. Really, I've just always felt like the Tachikoma: "existence of God" is a "thing" I've had trouble understanding ever since I was introduced to the idea. I like this explanation, because I can accept the need for a defined concept to signify place value.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Gershom Scholem, noted historian of Jewish metaphysics, once wrote/delivered a lecture about how G*d is best described as what G*d is not, rather than imposing limits by suggesting what G*d is.
Of course, this idea can be taken to great limits. But that's not for here.