Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"the Hunger"

Heroes is brilliant, let me just get that out of the way in case I wasn't clear in the past. But what was particularly brilliant was something I just realized in conjunction with a blog post and article I commented on @ Rhett Smith's blog about technology as a powerful practice. He's talking, and quoting a friend of his in regard to the idea that technology must be navigated in some way - and we have to essentially decide how we (as people of faith, and the church institutionally) will navigate it. Will we be consumers? Will we be abstainers? Will we find another way?

As I reflected on this, I realized that there's a great parable of this in Monday's episode of Heroes. If you're not up on your Heroes and don't want to know, don't read on... Peter has traveled back with his future self to 4yrs in the future - where future Peter (complete with a huge scar and an even more pronounced lip sneer), is shot by Claire the former cheerleader, who is potentially equal parts hero and villain - the future is murky on that. Anyway, dying breath future Peter - "you need Sylar's power..." - sends Peter to the domesticated Sylar's home, where he figures out how everything works - Sylar's unique power - which enables him, once Sylar cuts off people's skulls, to figure out how their brains work and unique powers then duplicate them in himself. However, Sylar warns Peter that this power comes with a price...the Hunger.

It's classic Prometheus, stealing fire from the God's and giving it to humanity. But in addition to this, he took away the knowledge of their end. In the ancient myth, humans were born knowing their expiration date. Prometheus, along with giving them fire (technology), removed the knowledge of their limitations and created a hunger, that continues today.

What we see in Sylar & Peter are humanity's options for dealing with that hunger. Sylar grew up "knowing" he was special - but not understanding it. Then he killed his "mom" and tinkered around with some brains and voila, he's figured out new powers and continues to hunger for more. But then, somewhere between the present and 4 yrs in the future, he learns to control his hunger and settles down with a child of his own - who he names after the man who'd been his nemesis - horn-rimmed-glasses Noah. You can either give in to the hunger (Sylar as the monster villian, killing everyone with a power in order to learn it and obtain it for himself - which sounds an awful lot like multi-national corporations eating up the competition). Or you can control it, subdue it and hide it away in a corner somewhere as you find another reason to live (the domesticated Sylar making pancakes for his son). The problem with the latter of course is that the potential is always there for catastrophe - which is how Sylar ends up exploding and killing 200,000 people in "Costa Verde."

But then Peter gains this hunger - and he comes face-to-face with present-day Sylar, before he is domesticated, and is told "you're just like me" - right after he's found himself nearly killing his brother because of the hunger. And Peter, who seems more and more to be the protagonist of the story, the "everyman" - realizes that he needs to discover an alternate way. He can't become the monster Sylar is/was and he can't simply pretend his powers aren't there (he needs to save the world...) - he needs to use these powers to bring about good, recognizing the potential is there for evil at every turn.

In a nutshell, that's humanity & technology and particularly Christians and technology. We recognize the power inherent in technology - and how it's hunger when unrestrained, can prove devastatingly costly. But we also recognize that it is a power that can or at least has the potential to be used for good. And we, like "Peter?" are stuck trying to figure out how we're supposed to do that...

1 comment:

fearlesschef said...

Interesting take on the show... I will have to pay closer attention to it on Monday night. I've been watching since the beginning and Matt and I do talk about the lessons that can be learned from time to time. Oh... and I found the domestication of Sylar very interesting... can't wait to see how his character plays out.