Brilliantly conceived, chillingly real, Her is a movie that captures the virtual world we are rapidly opting to evolve into. This modern day anthropomorphism of the machine takes us beyond the malevolent antagonists of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix into the essence of relationship itself, albeit between a human being and a computer operating system.
An astute observer pointed out to me that the evolutionary challenge presented to the central human character by the computer operating system in this movie was identical to the challenge Jeanne posed to me when she left this world: Could I stay connected to a being whose fullness far transcended the confines of our relationship in this world? Was I prepared to let go of familiarity and possession? This challenge indeed cuts to the heart of our evolutionary readiness, however, there are far more basic challenges that must be addressed before we are ready for that giant leap.
Having paid homage to our virtual brinksmanship with screens, we must not ignore the screams of our abandoned primordial selves. Scott Stossel, in his article about his lifelong anxiety in the current issue of The Atlantic, reveals the screams of his own two million-year-old being who, Jung pointed out, resides within each member of the human race. This ancient being has no interest in screens and hardly feels at home in this world of modernity. This ancient being rejects crowds, to say nothing of speaking before them. This being is terrified of the dark, well aware of the dangers that lurk in the night. This being is deeply affected by nature’s moods, be they storms, cold, or absence of sunlight. This being likes to hibernate.
This ancient being is full of passion that seeks expression, but feels imprisoned by reason and shame. This being seeks to establish its true place in the world, based on personal power beyond the dictates of democracy and political correctness. This being seeks physical warmth and closeness with flesh and blood human beings; damn those screens!
This two million-year-old being learned much in the way of transforming primal energies to fit the needs of all stages of the life cycle through rituals and rites of passage. In our insatiable lust for screens we have lost access to the wisdom of our two million-year-old selves, but hardly have we lost our deepest of human needs.
The I Ching, in hexagram #48, The Well, sagely advises: “We must go down to the very foundations of life. For any merely superficial ordering of life that leaves its deepest needs unsatisfied is as ineffectual as if no attempt at order had ever been made.”
The screams of our deepest needs call us to turn off our screens and face the true needs and true fears of our primordial selves without judgment. We are asked to accept our truths with humility, to not cover poverty with empty pretense. Acceptance with humility of the truths of our most vulnerable selves links us with the support and wisdom of our two million-year-old being, our real operating system.
In true relationship with this rich self, we are sure to be able to let go of our human desire for familiarity and possessiveness—as Jeanne challenged me with—free to take our own journey in infinity, in fulfillment, wherever we land.
From my two million-year-old self,