Stephen T. Harper and I sat down for a final round of our Westworld “What’s Your Theory?” podcast series. These are “deep dive” conversations — not recaps — where we talk about the philosophical and metaphysical implications of the show. More often than not we find ourselves broaching topics like tech-gnosticism, Jungian archetypes, the bicameral mind and transhumanism.
You read Stephen’s writeup for “The Passenger” right here.
O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! — Julian Jaynes
This conversation reflects on the emergent themes of Season 2. Mainly: gnostic self-authorship. As popular recaps like this one at Vulture are already saying, Season 2 was a hot mess. The scrying glass that was A.I. (Dolores) coming to self-consciousness by analogy of the Jungian labyrinth (and Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind) in Season 1 was a clear and powerful story that we could all identify with. Season 2—with its jumbled plot, overcooked exposition and tangled timelines—has no such luck, but, like a lot of popular scifi, still holds fast and true to surprisingly gnostic themes. False realities, self-authorship (a quintessential mantra of the human potential movement, something religious studies scholar Jeffrey Kripal calls “authorization” and occult comic artist Grant Morrison consistently explores through his oeuvre), and evolutionary mysticism oddly reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga—just to name a few. It figures. Pop culture is occulture.
Sound far-fetched? Give us a listen.
Later this summer we plan to reconvene for more pop-culture exegesis. Specifically, a podcast episode for the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. We’ll likely do a two-parter for Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, too.
Stay tuned. Thanks for listening.