Soon, I will begin posting re-lettered pages for Episode 1. I wanted to clean up some of the dialogue throughout various pages and was fortunate enough to be able to have Nic Shaw rework the episode 1 pages. I shall have the new versions of the first 22 pages of SPi up this week.
The re-lettered and slightly text edited pages for Episode 3 are now up. Big thanks to @micahmyers for laying down some great lettering over each and every one of the 22 trippy pages I sent his way, so looking forward to seeing how the final 22 for Episode 4 turn out.
To preface this post, I should state that I do not hold a degree in philosophy, theology, or film studies in any form; I’m simply trying to understand why certain ideas enter my mind, HIGHLIGHTED IN BOLD CAPS, and remain there until deeply contemplated. I’ve decided to exorcise some of my internal conversations, sending them out to the world in order to process them in a manner that will allow me to free up much needed petabytes of mind-space.
Something I do, unconsciously, is to take new ideas presented to me and pull them apart to see how they fit with other concepts that are already firmly planted in mind. This isn’t anything special, we all do it. It’s my way of attempting to understand myself and my place in the world that seemingly surrounds me, or to wrap my head around a notion by comparing it to something more familiar.
For years I’ve had a vague understanding of “Zen” practice skimming across my neuron ocean, placed there by Dennis O’Neil’s The Question, kept afloat by Phil “Zen Master” Jackson, and now written in black and white in the book that now adorns my nightstand, “The Compass of Zen.”
Years of reading and watching science fiction, Robert Anton Wilson, Jung and Joseph Campbell have brought a comfortable familiarity to lines of thought that appeared to stem from Buddhist ideals and notions; World mind, artificial intelligence, the Matrix / Plato’s cave, the multiverse, it’s all in there, even if given a different name or form than one would expect.
As I read The Compass of Zen, making my way through the chapter on Hinayana Buddhism, I was instantly reminded of the character arc of Roy Batty, as portrayed in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. Roy Baty as written in the source novel, Philip K Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” has an entirely different path than the film version; I’ll not touch upon that in any way in this post.
I don’t believe the Buddhist take on Batty’s story falls into the category of “artist’s intent,” though I’m sure it’s a connection that others have made, and let’s be frank, when it comes to Ridley Scott films and artist intention, things get pretty muddled. Blade Runner particularly suffers in this manner, what with its several different cuts and “he is / isn’t a replicant” waffling. The fact that charismatic antagonist Roy Batty has a more complete character arc than protagonist Rick Deckard further adds to the confusion and surely left many of the film’s first run audience members walking away from the theatre with the sense that something was “off” with the movie. The film fared much better in the home video market, where people like me could watch it multiple times, pick it apart and essentially put our own meaning into the film, regardless of what was intended to be impressed upon us by the director.
Hinayana Buddhism in short:
1. Insight into impermanence
2. Insight into impurity
3. Insight into non-self
Your name is Roy Batty. You’re a member of an off-world military service for an un-named government body. Skilled in combat and highly intelligent, you were born to be a soldier.
Your name is Roy Batty. You’re a replicant. A man-made slave designed to look, act, and believe itself to be human. Your life-span is but a fraction of the average human, four years.
“Wake up, it’s time to die.”
Now soak that in, seriously. Sit back and ask yourself how you’d react if you found out the essence of your being, the “I” is a lie, the long-held belief that you’re a special, unique individual in the world taken to the extreme. As you begin to process this, your lack of being, you’re hit with a concrete expiration date and won’t live as long as the processed cheese in your fridge. You’re product, not human. This however, gives you options. As product, you have a maker, flesh and blood, living in a pyramid high above the messiness of humanity, high above whatever it is you’re supposed to be.
Roy Batty can literally meet his maker.
Living in fear, suffering, attached to his body, Roy takes action in a manner many of us dream we could. Clinging to what he knows, the animated vessel of what he has come to define as “I” will meet his maker at all costs, demand answers, and force his “father” to increase the length of time his vessel-body will be able to exist in this plane.
We can’t deny the fact that Roy, designed to kill, takes an extremely murderous path to attain this meeting. After all, he’s the antagonist, and as such, we, the members of the audience need him to be an unsympathetic character, however it doesn’t quite work out that way.
Finally coming face to face with his creator, Dr. Eldon Tyrell, Roy isn’t given the answers he was hoping for. Realizing he has no tangible option to extend his life, or the lives of the small group of replicants that he leads, he is hit hard with the truth and finality of his impermanent nature. Roy then proceeds to kill Tyrell in a most gruesome manner, fully unleashing his anger at the realization of his impermanence. Though Roy at this point is still consumed by the concept of “I,” we begin realize that it was not merely his own life he was looking to extend, but the lives of the replicants that travel with him, his emotional growth as such that he begins to express genuine love for those he has brought with him.
In the moments after Tyrell’s death we can see Roy has achieved an academic understanding of impermanence and the impurity created by desire and attachment but hasn’t attained that his impermanence permeates all things, excluding the aforementioned processed cheese. His body and mind, the photographs coveted by the replicants that back up their false memories, the pyramid he climbs to confront the one man responsible for his existence, all impermanent.
Several scenes later as we get into the climax of the film where we have Roy chasing Deckard through a decrepit building, a cat and mouse game as Roy maniacally taunts Deckard. We get the impression that Roy is attempting to teach Deckard a lesson, while getting revenge for his replicant companions that Deckard has legally “retired.” With is body shutting down, Roy fights to stay alive until he’s satisfied that he’s been able to instill within Deckard a level of fear equivalent to that he and his Nexus-6 companions lived through knowing that their “time” was short in coming.
Bells chime and Deckard hangs precariously from the rooftop, clinging with broken hands far above the city streets below, death inevitable. Roy stands over him for a few moments, looks into his eyes and walks away, white dove in hand. It is this moment that Roy gains insight into non-self.
“He and I are the same thing.”
In realizing they have connected through a shared fear, that Roy finally attains his enlightenment, and as Deckard falls, Roy reaches out and with great strength lifts Deckard, dropping him to the safety of the rooftop. Roy calmly sits, legs crossed, two opponents eye to eye, communicating at the same level.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.”
The partial repeating line is interesting, earlier, “Wake up, time to die” is now simply “Time to die.” With the understanding that opposite thinking good / bad, life / death were simple impurities created by thinking they are not actual “things.” He peacefully passes away, no longer deluded by the concept of self.
The dove flutters from Roy’s lifeless body, Roy “comes empty handed, leaves empty handed,” his essence merging with the “big essence.” By saving Deckard’s life, Roy has passed this understanding to Deckard, with his own new-found acceptance and attainment of impermanence, and depending on which cut of the film you see, choses a path that will allow him to experience a true moment-to-moment / now existence.
”It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?”
The re-lettered pages for “Episode 2″ are now in hand. I’ll be rejigging the chapters somewhat as I add the new pages, in order to accommodate the new subtitle for the current arc. I’ll post updates as applicable.
The pages comprising Episode 2 have been sent to the mighty Nic Shaw to be re-lettered, also taking the opportunity to clean up a little of the dialogue. I figured as well that the tagline “You’re not who you think you are” coupled with SPi’s subtitle “Inviting The Demon” kinda make things a little muddy, too many secondary titles and phrases. That said, there’ll be a new tagline which will also be used as the subtitle. I’ll save that until I upload episode 2 “Redux.”