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Luc(y) in the Sky with Black Tar
stars in Lucy, Luc Besson's panegyrique to brain capacity as a potential to sublimate itself into "world spirit" or any other metaphor for God via the allegory, not of the cave, but the computer and artificial intelligence, purely on the basis of a similarity between uploading and downloading images on a computer screen and sublimating images of the "brain" (on a CAT scan?) or in some sort of "reality."
The thesis is fascinating,
as is the action which unfolds from it resulting in a fast paced film featuring a thinking man's sex symbol in the personage of Lucy (named after the remains of the first ape-woman) whose name, (non-)paradoxically, mean's light.
What kind of light is Mr. Besson, and the professor played by Morgan Freeman, talking about? The light on a computer screen? The light in CERN experiments? Or the light in Lucy's pupils? — which are drug induced according to the fictional script by way of a newly minted illegal pharmaceutical which naturally controls protein production in the foetus. Yes, the foetus, Mr. Besson is getting back to elemental basics in this yarn about a drug that produces a bio-chemical change in Lucy's brain upping its capacity from the traditional 10% all the way up to 100% at the climactic end of the film where Lucy is of course — since this story is a replay of the story of Jesus in the New Testament — resurrected or uploaded (take your pick) into heaven or everywhere. (I'm sure Dante is smiling right about now.)
However, downloaded would be
the better metaphor since her "hagiodyssea" takes place through the medium of the computer which she enters by melting herself into a "black tar" after which she is nice enough to download and give the professor (and us) all her transcended knowledge on a USB stick (from heaven — which would obviously be on another planet)...
Anyone who has a classical education would have encountered this story about a thousand times and can tell you all the previous actors who played these roles. Black tar = scorched image of Jesus; USB stick = shroud of Turin; computer = cave in which Jesus was buried; time travel = "before Moses I am"; brain capacity = Holy Spirit; Lucy's superhuman powers = Jesus's miracles, etc..
The lesson here,
is that all of language is metaphorical, which still doesn't mean we know what it means. It only means we can name it in our own idiom. We can't do (unlike the fictional Lucy and the real time Alexander the Great) what was possible in previous ages: travel across time and terrain respectively and recognise the local 'memes' as translations of our own. And this bespeaks of a modern illiteracy which had no equivalence in the past. The further back you go, the closer you come — not to cacophony — but to a general consensus between 2,000 people involved in a homogeneous project of living.
This would have been the true enlightenment of Lucy if Luc Besson had written it properly. Instead the film's (meta)physics fall apart at mid-steam where Lucy gives a committee gathered together by the Professor (probably at a government institute near the Sorbonne) a lecture on ultimates...All Mr. Besson can muster up for the ultimate meaning of life is that if a car travels fast enough, and the physical eye can't see it, then how can we postulate that it exists? Echoing how bankrupt modern physics is in its attempt to play metaphysics and adduce ultimates.
And just because
somebody once wrote a thesis at Harvard with 10% of his brain, why would it follow necessarily that consciousness is an epi-phenomenon of the brain (The premise of the film)? If Luc Besson simply had raised this question for his audience, it would have been a success. Instead, were it not for the lovely Scarlett Johansson, he would have bored us to death with another rendition of an old familiar story in a new costume.
Which brings us
to the crux of the problem: what exactly is knowledge? Why do we keep changing paradigms (from animism to paganism to prophetic religion to renaissance science — from ancient natural philosophy — to nihilistic techno-science)...?