Sunday, May 28, 2006

2nd Gig

Watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2nd Gig) has been food for thought. My husband and I have always enjoyed the show, as well as the GITS franchise in general. The first season was intellectually stimulating, but the second season is proving to be even more subtle. It is truly media about media, rife with metaphors which suggest that the Internet may be metamorphosing into a digital Jungian collective unconscious. Such an unconscious could then give birth to a separate entity, like the Puppet Master/Project 2501.

More and more, I am realizing that the GITS franchise is about reproduction, and that Shirow himself is concerned with this theme, as it is at the heart of Appleseed's plot-conceit.

While I agree with the writers of GITS:SAC 2G that the Internet has become a depository for our thoughts and opinions, and that watching the trends among those thoughts is much like watching a school of fish dart through the sea, I don't think that a full collective unconscious--even one maintained on a series of external memory devices--can be achieved until representatives from all walks of life have uploaded data.

Jung himself came under fire--and rightly so--for his anti-Semitism. A milder critique would be that Jung's theory is remarkably enthnocentrist, in that it posits Western archetypes as human archetypes, thereby eliminating Asian, African, or First Nation myths from the universal paradigm. I think these critics have a point, and the same point can be made when we conceptualize the Internet as a new collective unconscious. It simply cannot be a complete unconsciousness, because not all of us are represented. In much of the world, the Internet is a luxury, as are the machines and the infrastructure which make access to it possible. And in the parts of the world where the Internet is available, only certain groups have access. Of the groups that do have access, some are censored. Most recently, China has been criticized for censoring Internet users. Any way we look at it, the fact remains that the Internet is not put together by all people everywhere, but by certain groups.

If the Internet is the site of the any collective unconscious, that consciousness is informed by the archetypes and symbols known only by those privileged enough to communicate them.


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