Thursday, November 20, 2014
Stephen Mulhall on the authenticity of replicants.
Deckard’s response to death is inauthentic because it transforms his own death from an (omnipresent) possibility into an actuality: it extinguishes his humanity. So Roy teaches him the difference between possibility and actuality; he allows Deckard (and us) to spend long minutes on the edge of his existence, pushes him to the edge of a real abyss, making death seem unavoidable – and then he rescues him. And he underlines the point of that lesson by making manifest, at the moment of his own death, that he has revelled in his time:
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe: attack-ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
He has lived each moment of his life to the full without denying its transitory place in the ineluctable stream of time; and any such denial would amount to denying the essential structure of human experience as such. It would, moreover, count as a further and more profound failure of acknowledgement to wish to bequeath one’s experiences and memories to others – as if one could outlive oneself, as if one’s moments of consciousness were alienable, as if one’s mortality could be sloughed off. Heidegger understands our relation to our own death as the clearest expression of this truth. He describes it as our ownmost, nonrelational possibility: no one can die another’s death for him, just as no one can die our death for us, and that is precisely what makes our death, when it comes, our ownmost possibility. Roy’s calm and moving last words manifest just this authentic understanding, and they cry out for acknowledgement as such.
P. 38
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