Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simulacron 3

Science fiction is the literature of Big Ideas on Gigantic Canvases. It is also a branch of children's literature, with special attractions for teenage boys. The dreams of competence and achievement have a powerful hold on the imaginations of lads becoming men. I still cite writers of the 60s in my scholarly works, names like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, "Cordwainer Smith"[1], Bester, and Galouye.

Daniel F. Galouye wrote a novel with an intriguing premise. Imagine a virtual world, populated with artificial intelligences (AIs), created for the purpose of market research. System operators can project their avatars into this virtual world to interact with the denizens.

But suppose the AIs decided to build their own simulacron?[2]

And now for today's parable.
Mar 12:1 İsa onlara benzetmelerle konuşmaya başladı. "Adamın biri bağ dikti, çevresini çitle çevirdi, üzüm sıkmak için bir çukur kazdı, bir de bekçi kulesi yaptı. Sonra bağı bağcılara kiralayıp yolculuğa çıktı.
Mar 12:2 Mevsimi gelince bağın ürününden payına düşeni almak üzere bağcılara bir köle yolladı.
Mar 12:3 Bağcılar köleyi yakalayıp dövdü ve eli boş gönderdi.
Mar 12:4 Bağ sahibi bu kez onlara başka bir köle yolladı. Onu da başından yaralayıp aşağıladılar.
Mar 12:5 Birini daha yolladı, onu öldürdüler. Daha birçok köle yolladı. Kimini dövüp kimini öldürdüler.
Mar 12:6 "Bağ sahibinin yanında tek kişi kaldı, o da sevgili oğluydu. 'Oğlumu sayarlar' diyerek bağcılara en son onu yolladı.
Mar 12:7 "Ama bağcılar birbirlerine, 'Mirasçı budur, gelin onu öldürelim, miras bizim olur' dediler.
Mar 12:8 Böylece onu yakaladılar, öldürüp bağdan dışarı attılar.
Mar 12:9 "Bu durumda bağın sahibi ne yapacak? Gelip bağcıları yok edecek, bağı da başkalarına verecek.
Mar 12:10 Şu Kutsal Yazı'yı okumadınız mı?'Yapıcıların reddettiği taş, İşte köşenin baş taşı oldu. Rab'bin işidir bu, Gözümüzde harika bir iş!'"
How often do you get to write yourself into your own story? Twice? Christians view Jesus (İsa) as, to some exent, a projection of God's person and character into the created order. The universe is God's story, and the Creator wrote himself into the story, as a teacher, a story teller, who now tells this story about himself.

Most of us would make our fictionalized equivalents to be folks of gigantic stature, energetic, heroic. Jesus, as the beloved son of the landlord, takes a passive role. He is merely the Father's emissary, who is rejected, and murdered, by the faithless tenant farmers. Well, the point of the story is -- to expose the nefarious designs of Israel's rulers. They were warned, beforehand, of their folly -- they would reject the Stone that would eventually become the cornerstone of a new, and more faithful, social order.

Another incident in this chapter merits further discussion. Once again, his enemies attempt to trap Jesus in words. (ever notice how often lawyers and others who use words for their livelihood can abuse that power?)
Mar 12:13 Daha sonra İsa'yı söyleyeceği sözlerle tuzağa düşürmek amacıyla Ferisiler'den ve Hirodes yanlılarından bazılarını O'na gönderdiler.
Mar 12:14 Bunlar gelip İsa'ya, "Öğretmenimiz" dediler, "Senin dürüst biri olduğunu, kimseyi kayırmadan, insanlar arasında ayrım yapmadan Tanrı yolunu dürüstçe öğrettiğini biliyoruz. Sezar'a* vergi vermek Kutsal Yasa'ya uygun mu, değil mi? Verelim mi, vermeyelim mi?"
Mar 12:15 Onların ikiyüzlülüğünü bilen İsa şöyle dedi: "Beni neden deniyorsunuz? Bana bir dinar getirin bakayım."
Mar 12:16 Parayı getirdiler. İsa, "Bu resim, bu yazı kimin?" diye sordu. "Sezar'ın" dediler.
Mar 12:17 İsa da, "Sezar'ın hakkını Sezar'a, Tanrı'nın hakkını Tanrı'ya verin" dedi. İsa'nın sözlerine şaşakaldılar.
Jesus calls their bluff, and asks them to show him a coin. Remember where he's sitting -- in the court of the temple. The Jews of that era regarded it as idolatry to carry images of other so-called deities into the temple. Such as, the image of Caesar, and his titles of divinity, on Roman coins. For this reason, they did a profitable business in money changing, converting "idolatrous" coins into specially minted "temple" coins.

But, as the staffing of the American cabinet demonstrates, "lawmakers" typically "make laws" for other people. The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for administering the tax collection system of the country -- but was confirmed in his office even after having failed to pay his own taxes for several years.

Still, we "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," even as we withhold that which is God's. Such as the worship human leaders so often covet. Or our children.


[1] This was actually the pen name used by Paul Linebarger, a High Church Anglican who literally "wrote the book" on Psychological Warfare. Effective propaganda, he taught several generations of warriors, must be characterized by truth and love. The enemy soldiers bust sense that you are being honest with him, and genuinely care for his welfare.


Rosana Hart said...

I enjoyed coming across your comments about my father's work (found them through Google Alerts) and was struck that you also mention Daniel F Galouye, as he won the 2007 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, as you can see on this page:

and from there, you can explore the rest of my tribute site to Cordwainer Smith.

Rosana Linebarger Hart,
Cordwainer's daughter

Al ve oku said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post. Your father's fiction provided one of the few links between the Christian faith I yearned to believe in, and the brave new worlds of science fiction. His short story Alpha Ralpha Boulevard is unequaled for poignancy. Scanners Live In Vain was a brilliant parable of the obsessive totalitarian ideologies that marched with bloody footprints across the 20th century.