While an update of my phone is not a big deal, my most recent update has brought about a strange and comforting site. Now everything when I open my phone, I see the notifications that the app that protects my phone tells me “Everything is OK”. Its comforting in an odd sort of way and reminds me of the Greek theater, where the impossible situation the characters have found themselves in is resolved by the appearance of a God who resolves the situation and brings the drama to a close. While this is called deus ex machina, it refers to the fact that a machine was used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage, it literally means god from the machine.
Perhaps that is what next frontier in our relation to the larger world and the divine will be. While we have looked for deeper meaning in historical figures, pop culture, mediation or sedation we may now find a comfort for our soul in a silicon-based deity. In George Lucas’ THX1138, the titular character played by Robert Duval, goes to find comfort for his spiritual angst in a futuristic phone booth, where when the door is closed, an image of a sort of Jesus appears on the screen and a recorded voice says, “My time is yours, go ahead” as Duval begins his confession, the recorded voice randomly chimes in with statements like, “Yes, I understand,” and “Go on” no matter what the person is saying. Perhaps George Lucas was more prophet then we care to know, sensing that we would ourselves create an electronic God if we couldn’t keep a metaphysical or mystical one alive. Perhaps the realm of electronics have become the magic of the future. Perhaps our future redemption will be from a silicon God whose “everything is OK” will become the nightlight keeping the 21st-century monsters at bay.
If you have never seen THX1138, please use this scene as an appetizer to a brilliant feast of a movie.