Friday, May 02, 2008

Run towards it.

over it

Roy's association of slavery with living in fear, thus echoing Leon's earlier perception, also reminds us of the replicant's perception of their own status in relation to their human creators; in part, his lesson is intended to teach Deckard what he, along with all human beings, is responsible for doing to the replicants -- what his denial of their humanity amounts to. But most fundamentally, it is designed to teach Deckard a lesson about his own relation to death -- about his mortality. Roy brings it about that Deckard feels that every moment may be his last, and Deckard's response is to flee from this threat; he functions at the level of an injured animal, incapable of anything more than an unthinking attempt to avoid the threat of extinction. His pursuer, by contrast -- who knows that his own death is imminent, whether by genetic determinism or by Deckard's own efforts with gun and crowbar -- responds to the threat by running towards it. He toys with the very threat that paralyses Deckard; he sees that, since mortality is internal to human existence and embodiment, genuine humanity turns on finding the right reaction to it.

We are thereby given inauthentic and authentic ways of living a human life in the face of its mortality. Deckard's flight denies the ubiquity of this threat -- as if an escape from Roy would amount to an escape from the threat he incarnates. Roy treats the same threat playfully. ...

Like Zarathustra's disciples, Roy is dancing on the edge of the abyss, performing his version of Pris' cartwheeling enactment of her thinking, embodied existence (in Sebastian's apartment). The lightness and grace of his life finds confirmation in his ability to look at death, and the death of love, without fear or hysteria. And he wants to teach this to Deckard: if to play is to be fully alive, not to play is to be reduced to death-in-life or merely animal existence. If you can't play, you might as well be dead.

-- Stephen Mulhall's On Film.

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