What Is The "Real" Reality Essay

1758 words - 8 pages

Finding the distinction between appearance and reality is, and has always been, one of the principal focal points of philosophy. From Plato to Descartes, all philosophers have grappled with this problem (at one point or another); what is reality? While the question isn't exactly novel, the science fiction genre sort of picks up where the great philosophers left off in an attempt to answer, if not better understand, this question and ourselves. Works including Dark City (1998) and The Matrix (1999) have both pushed their audiences to think what is reality? Who am I and what does it mean to be human? While none of these works nor myself are so bold as to claim to have all the answers, the ...view middle of the document...

As an audience we see for ourselves how memories so easily shape the lives and realities of the city's inhabitants. Take the young couple sitting down to dinner, for example. The first night we see them it seems they are a struggling working class family trying to make ends meet. They seem overworked and their language is crude and that leads us to believe they are not that well educated. However, as soon as their memories are altered and their home is "tuned" this completely changes. Their demeanor, language, personality, and apparently accents changed with their memories. The working class couple is now the spitting image of a wealthy aristocratic power couple. So do our memories shape the very fabric of our being? Or is there something more to us that memories don't necessarily affect? Perhaps a soul or maybe even something else .
Dr. Schreber seems to believe in the idea of the human soul and we may even see it in the character Emma. Even though Murdoch tries to tell Emma that their marriage, lives, everything is all a lie she still insists that her feelings are real. "I love you, John. You can't fake something like that." To which Murdoch agrees "no, you can't." (Dark City 1998). Is there something to be said about human emotion? Do our emotions follow our memories or are they something separate? It's not an easy question to answer. Like Emma you can remember meeting someone, you can remember falling in love, and you can remember losing someone. But how does that affect the present. Emma's feelings remained, are our emotions so easily tricked? Even after Emma was tuned and became Anna there is still a glimmer of hope that her love either remains or will possibly return after re-meeting John Murdoch on the pier. Memories it may seem can be recreated but our emotions remain. We just might need to dig a little deeper to reach them.
Theologian Gerard Loughlin interpreted Dark City as a retelling of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. The people are prisoners to a reality and do not realize they are in a prison. John Murdoch escapes this prison by realizing the reality for what it really was, false. You see, in Plato's allegory people are inside a cave, facing away from a fire, and see only the shadows of objects which are moving behind them. Much like the inhabitants of Dark City the shadows are their memories. Because they see nothing other than these shadows, they mistakenly assume that these shadows are real objects, and put much effort into watching them and discovering their details. In this sense people are so trusting and dependant on their memory that their very lives are shaped and detailed by them. However, Plato assures us that it is possible for someone to escape this position and leave the cave. Such a person would at first be blinded by the light of the sun. Eventually though, they would start acquiring knowledge of true things and realize the absurdity of the shadow-examination that continues in the cave. This idea culminates when...

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