I don’t want to be Motoko Kusanagi. Or more accurately I don’t want to be a ghost in a shell. I recently watched a video by The Jorlosopher titled Everyone Should Be A Ghost In The Shell. He makes a compelling argument for why he wishes to become a cyborg like Motoko. His arguments are well founded, the extensive list of benefits he touts (including heightened durability and interchangeability) seem great. He also refutes several arguments against the idea of cyberization before they can even be brought up. He makes a great case for why humanity should embrace cyberization.
But here’s the thing. I am not humanity. I am me. What is in the best interests of humanity may run counter to my own ideals. Ultimately Jor’s reasoning for wanting to become a cyborg is this: he as an entity is made by his memories and not by his body. This is something I agree with, logically then by extending the lifespan of those memories you can continue to exist for a longer period of time.
I don’t think this is a good thing. You see while pseudo-immortality would indeed be soothing for humanity I think it takes away the most important thing a human is capable of conceiving. Meaning. A life without limits is inherently a life without meaning.
To quote Nietzsche: “Without Music Life Would Be A Mistake”
This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. Art is something that only humans are capable of creating, no other species we know of is capable of creating art. We can convey emotions and complex ideas through it, I personally believe that it is our defining capability.
I think immortality would kill great art. A prime motivator in creating art is our impending mortality. It extends our life artificially by making our ideas into something non-perishable like music or film. Without such a motivator much art would be wiped out.
I think their is a fantastic example in the history of Queen for this. By 1984 the band had nearly broken up and were in the midst of one of their least critically and commercially successful spells ever. Freddie Mercury was partying his life away and just having fun. Then he was diagnosed with AIDS. Instead of wasting away however this bombshell actually made him MORE productive. He got back in the studio with Queen and the band went on a run with multiple No.1 albums and their first solo number one single in the UK since Bohemian Rhapsody with Innuendo. The period between those two songs spanned a staggering 16 years, a second no.1 after that length of time is unprecedented.
Mercury is noted as having said to his bandmates regarding his illness “I want to make music till the day I fucking die” and he stuck to that promise, downing shots of vodka to record through the pain and recording up until he could no longer get out of bed to get to the studio.
Innuendo is my favorite Queen album and it would not exist without the inevitability of death. Am I willing to trade it and so many other great works for a shot at psuedo-immortality? The point is to keep yourself, your memories omnipresent but without those works I am not me. They have shaped me. Death is ultimately the at root of almost all art because it is our only constant.
Psycho-Pass deals with a very similar concept to GiTS in that Senguji is almost fully cyborg bar his brain. He shares a very similar sentiment to Jor in regards to cyberization. The SIBYL system as well preserves the memories of it’s inductees for what could potentially be an eternity.
So when Makishima, a man who champions his own individual characteristics, who prizes his ideas is offered a chance to join SIBYL what does he say?
He refuses. He acknowledges that it may be “fun in it’s own way” to become some from of omnipotent but he refutes the notion that he could simply become to world’s umpire. He says that he can’t enjoy “the game” unless he is participating.
“And I love this game people call ‘life” from the bottom of my heart”
“I want to keep playing forever and ever”
And there it is. What is the point in living without death? In fact what is the point of anything if it does not end? You wouldn’t start a race without a finish line. You wouldn’t watch a movie without an ending. You shouldn’t start a life without it one day ending.
Conclusions to things are important, they give us resolution, closure. Without them there is no point in having the points between the start and the finish. Who would want to watch Jojo if it was just the gang traveling to Egypt forever and never reaching Dio? Without an ending the middle has no meaning, by artifically stopping death you inherently rob yourself of ultimate satisfaction with life to me. It is not a matter of being human or not it is a matter of being alive, what it means to exist and how that is different to what it means to live.
Thanks for reading,