|light-speed vs. soul-speed|
In a very paradigmatic scene there is a discussion about Buddhism1 at a house party, in which Edward insists that Buddhism isn't really a religion, because there is no importance projected into the role of god and it's just about retrieving and improving your self. To this statement, his hopelessly-in-love girlfriend replies rather unnerved, that this is just replacing the term "god" with "self" - and so it is still a religion which hunts after some transcendence, which is - very dangerously - placed within the individual self.
But Edward can't be dissuaded from his fixed idea of some primordial or transcendental truth and pursues his Faustian hunt even more recklessly, so that they eventually break up, although she can never fall out of love with him. Later he discovers Ayahuasca in Mexico and manages to synthesize it at Columbia. This takes his experiments to a whole new level - for the voyages to a more fundamental form of being that he experiences while tripping aren't purely mental any more - he is actually starting to degenerate physically as well. After much scepticism, the two scientists that assist his experiments are forced to confirm that he really degenerated into an ape-like being, adopting the physical bone structure as well as the DNA-Code.
Recently I have been quite obsessed with the concept of a super-organism. The terms of super-organism is commonly applied to ants, bees, termites and other social animals. As a individual (organism) those animals have a very limited intelligence, but as a collective (super-organism), they are able to solve and act in very complex manners. For example: some years ago my girlfriend-at-the-time and me played around with an ant colony on Sicily. Some ants of the colony transported material (little sticks and so forth) to the entry holes, unloading in there for others to take in. We for our part "helped" the ants by bringing a lot of those materials directly to the hole. In the beginning, this created chaos: an immense traffic jam evolved in front of the entry holes and nothing seemed to be moving any longer. But, after a few minutes, the ant adapted to the new situation and more of them were occupied with carrying the material inside, so that the traffic went back to a normal and fluent status.
Sometimes I believe we as humans are a super-organism as well - consider London, Jakarta or any other megalopolis. All those cities work on a much higher level then that of individual, intentional decisions. Also the most promising currents in philosophy try to grasp social or other development on a super-personal level. I believe that the human organism has the potential of evolving into a super-organism and - given the immense growth of population since the age of industrialisation - this might be the only alternative we still have. It should be clear that we - as individuals or organisms - have no chance to face the problems of our age (environmental, social, etc.) Maybe we should try to find the hidden potential that lies in the collective or the human super-organism. The problems of our age are too complex to be dealt with as individuals, we have reached a point, which the ants have already long since reached: we have to bond into one super-organism to be able to deal with the complexity of our world. The occidental idea of the strong subject is precisely contrary to that notion and as long as our cities are inhabited by those subjects, they will be in much disarray, because all the tiny little intentionalities or interests of every subject will collide in competition (we call this capitalism for most parts).
I wouldn't have believed I am capable of such leftist Sci-Fi talk.
1 Elmar Holenstein claims that the term Buddhism is a very Western one and doesn't really do justice to the real Indian concept. The teachings of Buddha don't have anything to do with ideology, which is usually expressed with the "-ism"-ending. According to him, it is much more understood as a way, or, in Sanskrit, dharma. Consequently he proposes to use the term Buddhadharma instead of Buddhism. I generally intend to follow this proposal, but in this special case I stick to the "-ism" word, because I deal with a American Hollywood production and the way Buddhism seems to be understood in it, might be more like an -ism than a dharma. See: page 28 of Holenstein, Elmar: Philosophie-Atles: Orte und Wege des Denkens. Dritte Auflage. Ammann Verlag: Zürich 2004.↩