Avatar and the horizontal integration of James Cameron

James Cameron does not need success, recognition or money. We might further speculate that his dreams and fascinations with the mysteries of the ocean have already been fulfilled. We deduce that his intention to continue the Avatar franchise with Avatar: The Way of Water, if it does not obey an immaculate artistic motivation, then it must be a political intention. It seems that the director wants to teach us something.

In a taxonomy of his work, from alien (1986), going through his Terminatoruntil Avatar more recently, we reveal the pattern of a critique of unethical technological progress, over-industrialization, even a denunciation of the clumsiness of military castes. It is very clear when he warns us of the singularity with Skynet, as a terrifying aspect of artificial intelligence. On the other hand, he is generous in his sympathies for conservationism, for non-anthropocentric understanding of nature, and for strong women and heroines.

In their Pandorian duo we will observe that the Na’vi have no courage in using submachine guns and explosives, in frank guerrilla parallelism with the Vietnam conflict —in fact, in the second installment there is a child interpreter, of questionable morality, who makes possible criticism of the role that anthropology played during that war. They also don’t have much of a problem accepting hybrid individuals into their society. They assimilate and use cloning and fertilization in vitro. They learn to communicate by radio. A pretty pragmatic people, really.

The acceptance or rejection of technologies is always preceded by a local sociopolitical dimension. First you need pharaohs to then build the Giza Necropolis; just as a strict samurai ethic would oppose, as it did, the use of firearms, no matter how efficient and feasible they were. Through the technique we can diagnose societies. So, what does the technology of the Na’vi tell us about their society? More significantly, what is Cameron, the true demiurge of that universe, hiding behind the fourth wall, outside of time, promoting to us?

Well, it might come as a surprise that the idyllic Na’vi look a lot like contemporary minority ethnic groups, without Orthodox roots and already immersed in the post-industrial exchange of the globalized world. The anthropologist Ann Jordan explains that in reality the “discovered” peoples take from those who discover them only what they need and give it new meaning. Coca-Cola is used in Russia to reduce wrinkles, while in Haiti it is used to revive the dead and in Barbados to turn copper into silver. There is no total loss of identity in this process, but rather a use and new meaning of foreign culture.

The less present the foundational myths are, the less transcendent the sense of identity, the less the self-rooting is and the less resignification is applied to foreign artifacts. This is precisely what happens with the Na’vi armed and partisans, of whom, perhaps, an argument in favor from their place of enunciation is that it will always be valid to use the same weapons of techno-capitalism or the “system” to destroy it from within. . Including democracy, of course, which is another technique. By the way, this has been the argument of the communists with iPhone for a long time.

This behavior of the Na’vi, able to integrate horizontally with everything without questioning it too much, so different from what was registered in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, nevertheless resembles our contemporary way of assimilating technologies. Our gadgets are just black boxes that just work and are used by us. Our body, for its part, also constitutes an equivalent materiality with our environment (physical and digital) and therefore can be modular and interchangeable.

The potentialities of Neuralink and its equivalence between DNA and bits they appear in the film, when some characters reincarnate in new bodies and with the support of their pre-recorded life memories. This Cartesian separation between soul and body is the seed, among other things, of the current dilemmas about the performativity of the genre.

Contrary to what one might think, the natives of Cameron are not pantheists, even if they sublime with Eywa. In the first installment of Avatar, it is made explicit that the entire biome is hyperconnected, in the form of high-speed internet, as a consequence of a refined and ancient evolutionary process. All phenomena on the planet are material, and only contrast in terms of quantity, both connections and speed, with the evolutionary state of earthlings and their machines. Machines, by the way, that are increasingly organic, and that allow us to deduce and project the missing links between them and the ecosystem. There our supposed primitivism as a species would be evident.

In the exemplary Na’vi society there is no vertical and external principle that governs the manifestations of life and its daily life. Rather, the “we are stardust” reigns, which is the secular version of Beyond.

But this apparent spirituality is better understood if we analyze the sensitivity of the director, before an agnostic and now an atheist. As Ángel Faretta, critic and art theorist, has identified, behind the apparent simplicity of Cameron’s scripts there is an operation with traditional symbols that are common to several religions. But, complementing the sharp observation of the teacher, this would be a truncated operation, when not reversed. An authentic crucifixion of Peter.

In Terminator (1984), it is the son who sends the father into the world to save it. In titanic (1997), Jack dines on bread and wine with twelve haughty, gentrified diners. Rose is saved by a stake and not with her lover, as a partner and potential humanity —Jack had to die for the (inverted) symbol to work. For his part, it is true that Jake Sully falls from the sky, incarnates in the Pandorian world, suffers from it and decides to sacrifice himself for him to save him. However, he comes from a fallen world, which is Earth. Sully comes from above but not from above.

In 2007, Cameron documented the discovery of the Talpiot tomb, further assuring that he possessed a small fragment of the skeleton of Christ. Let us remember that in Christianity the Resurrection is a historical and attested fact, and not simply a theological revelation. With this work, Cameron intended to tear down the pillar of the creed.

For this series of reasons we could assure that the lessons that are not given are better than the incomplete ones. You have to be careful with the ninth gates.

Perhaps that’s why we don’t see any display of artificial intelligence in Avatar—at least not explicitly. It is curious that in this diegesis, with earthlings so technologically advanced and taking into account the director’s previous works, there are no androids. There are not terminator that they subdue the rebels, an issue that would definitely not entail moral conflicts with the ambitious humans of the plot.

It happens that the approach of artificial intelligence necessarily confronts us with the dialectic between creator and creation. The more we understand machines, the more we are faced with a theology of technique. And Cameron seems to consciously evade it. From his inverted cross he removed the vertical crosspiece.

Hopefully Cameron will delve a little deeper into the “path of the water”, so that he can realize that the desert is the symmetrical space of the ocean, and that the mysteries of one and the other are in solidarity with each other. With a bit of luck, in a meeting between millionaire sheikhs and technologists, they can realize that there is a lack anything else in your projects.

Avatar and the horizontal integration of James Cameron – The American