Forever

I don't watch a lot of TV shows, but when I do, I binge them. One of the weekends a couple months ago I did nothing but sat in the couch and finished the only season of "Altered Carbon", partly to procrastinate doing my taxes. I was going to write about it then, but death and taxes got in the way.

Altered Carbon is set in a future where all your memory is instantly recorded in an electronic implant, and your memory can be restored into any body as long as the implant is not damaged. There's a side effect every time you switch body though, doing it too often and your mind gets damaged. The super rich make nightly backup of their implants and clone their bodies so they can essentially live forever.

A lot of the show is about the implications of "forever". As a side effect of the mind living forever, bodies are disposable, except for the religious few who believe lives are meant to end. Those who truly live forever have God-like status, and because they never die, wealth and power is not concentrated in families but in individuals. Ever complained about your parents still treat 30 year-olds like kids? That's nothing compared to 250 year-olds treating 200 year-olds like kids. Wedding vows are short and sweet but keeping them truly takes forever.

While I procrastinated with my taxes I also came across another Korean movie, The Beauty Inside. The main character, Woo-jin, wakes up with a different body every day. He lives by himself and nobody knows about his secret except his mom and his best friend. To everyone else, he's always a stranger. Instead of forever, everything in his life is transient.

In additional to having 100 different pairs of glasses and all the sizes of shoes, Woo-jin also has to live with other life inconveniences like not being able to speak Korean if he wakes up as a foreigner or the awkwardness of his best friend asking to have sex with "him" on the days he's a woman. Being a Korean movie, obviously the main obstacle Woo-jin faces is finding a girlfriend. Vernon Elliot still loves his wife when she re-sleeves into a man's body, but Woo-jin lives outside of the dystopian world of Altered Carbon where that is the norm.

The rebels in Altered Carbon lives in a world of forevers and fights for a world where everyone eventually dies. In Woo-jin's world everything lasts for only one day but he longs for forever. In both worlds the characters are not defined by their bodies but by their minds. If we are what we speak and anchoring are true to some extent, are we really only our souls or are there more to our non-disposable shells?

by khc on Mon May 21 18:49:05 2018 Permlink
Tags: movie
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