Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Elder and the Clockwork Soldier

I think  that the best way to start this journal is to first talk about the people I’m working with, then about the group, and finally who I am. I know it’s a bit ass-backwards, but I like doing things my own way. I am not going to talk about everybody right away, but rather I’ll talk about the people I have interacted with the most so far (as to the date of this posting, I’ll speak later of others I get to know better). So, I’m going to talk about Leonidas, Pinocchio, Bumblebee, Snark, and Angelica. These are not all of the folks I’ve interacted with, but rather the ones that, for some reason or another, I’ve spoken to or observed in a more personal setting.



LEONIDAS is an old dog. I’m not being disrespectful, he is positively ancient. He’s the leader of the band, but he’s also one of those immortals that seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days. I’ve had a few direct interactions with him, and he strikes me as someone who can either joke around or bite your head off. I don’t know what he is like as a leader because I haven’t been able to observe him leading – but the fact that he can be stern when he needs to be was shown by how he handled Bumblebee and his revelations.

He can come across as jovial, but I get the impression that he is one of those men who have hidden edges and only bring them to bear when it is necessary. I think it is rather foolish to take an immortal at face value – simply because a being who lives for so long must build different layers to his personality. Of those I have met, I can safely say that Leonidas is probably the least I know about.


PINOCCHIO is hardly like his benevolent namesake, and both the most disturbing and fascinating being in this super-group. Once a human being, his soul was destroyed when he was bound to his armor through a dark ritual and subsequently enslaved by a demoness as her assassin’s dagger. Nowadays he only exists as the extension of the will of his ‘mistress’, a being that is malevolent and devious (far from a ‘Blue Fairy’ indeed). Throughout the ages he has committed horrible acts and carnage, and yet he is the one who constantly tries to impugn human nature and human weaknesses, espousing an almost Nietzchean rhetoric of the culling of the weak in favor of the strong, with some very dark undertones of Heidegger.

When Bumblebee revealed the deceit to which he had resorted, Pinocchio first denounced him and then made threats—When I was (very) quick to point out the incongruence of a murderer (most likely a mass murderer) rebuking a liar, he exited the comm channel. That is the way it has been since our first encounter: whatever statement he utters whose core is a hatred for humanity (and an implicit glorification of his demon masters) is immediately contested by me.

The most recent exchange we had ended in him having a powerful reaction to my line of reasoning. Indignant at my analysis of his morality (or lack thereof) and his unquestionable servitude of a sadistic demoness, he accused me of buying into ‘angelic propaganda,’ after which he fled my presence. This, he has done several times already- until I pointed out that it was a disrespect to the people he was with, to turn tail and exit the room.

Of course, it isn’t fear- he is not afraid of me, I cannot possibly pose a threat to a being of his nature (whereas my mentor Doctor Gnosis would), but rather it is the arguments I wield and what lies behind them that discomfits him so. Like Cleopatra, he is a monarch of denial at this fundamental level. Is redemption –whatever that may be- possible for him? More importantly: If he lacks a ‘soul’, then that makes him merely a complex automaton, so what are the moral implications of that? 

I once, as a child, I asked Doctor Gnosis whether a machine could ‘grow a soul’ or whether robots and androids – no matter how sophisticated – would always be lacking somehow.

She said to me that souls are never given, but constantly made and grown. Every choice made, every value upheld and every idea held as true were the components of the ‘soul’. “The soul is consciousness,” she would say, “and it can only survive through purpose- the purposeful maintenance of life, arduous cogitation of ideas and the experiences of feelings in response to a deeply-held value.”

“But what about  Archie?” I said, bringing the topic back to the android at the institute, one of the most respected (and beloved) teachers.  His original number was RG-2324, but he was renamed Archie (a bastardization of Arr-Gee, in a truly inspired Star Wars moment).

“His sophistication allows him to undergo processes similar to ours. Even though he lacks the hormonal component, he is, for as far as I can tell, self-aware and rational. He wasn’t born of a biological process but manufactured- but what is the biological process of birth and genetics, if not a process of manufacture? Everything he learned, he had to learn for himself using the same tools a baby would have.” And in this she was right, since Archie was the first of a series of ‘Epistemological Androids,’ a revolutionary technology that Mechanon himself was said to loathe, as it created self-aware mechanical beings that were not as easy to manipulate as, say, the cowbows in Snake Gulch.

Still sensing my doubts, she concluded, “Archie is a being of self-made soul, Alessandro. In a way, we all are. Consciousness is the ‘soul’ we have, and our actions and purposes are the fuel that keep it going. That is why a person without purpose seems like such a tragedy- for as long as they abandon purpose, they abandon their souls.”

I was thinking of that as I saw Pinocchio walk away last night, addressing two of the team-mates but refusing to acknowledge my existence. His surrendering of his will to his ‘Mistress’, making her purpose his, is the cause for his constant death-of-soul. Perhaps the recovery of his soul is possible, but it will remain forever barred to him as long as he continues to avoid the reality of it all: puppets have no lives of their own, and as long as he remains a puppet he will be nothing but a hollow armor who remembers that it was once human.


Well, that’s all for tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to talk about Bumblebee and Snark, see you then!

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