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 Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time… to die.
Such are the last words of Roy Batty, lead antagonist in the film Blade Runner. They always make my spine tingle. Maybe I am imagining myself in black empty space, seeing the c-beams glittering beneath me. Maybe it’s the romance of a forsaken creature, a Frankenstein’s monster superior to its own maker.
Maybe it’s the struggle for freedom, a fight that ultimately ends in Batty’s death, and Deckard’s redemption. On that consideration, hear Rick Roderick:
I will call to your mind a scene from Blade Runner, where before the replicant dies, he slams his hand on a nail (and many of you may not know this), but when Batty does that in the film, it’s a reference to an action that Sartre has a character perform in “Roads to Freedom”. In “Roads to Freedom”, the Sartre character slams his hand onto a nail to prove that he is free. Because he chose to do it. It hurt like hell, but he chose it. I put my hand on that nail, and that shows I am free, because just as a calculus of deterministic pleasure I would never have done it. It’s a philosophical demonstration… a painful and stupid one in my opinion… but by the time we get to Blade Runner, the replicant slams his hand onto a nail just to feel anything. Just to feel anything.
When the attempt for immortality finally falls through, man must settle for memory; in Batty’s case, he chooses to leave what is left of himself pass into the hands of his enemy- his best bet in his hope of being remembered. In a sense, he chooses to live on through Deckard.
Would you want to live forever? Many people believe they will, in a spiritual sense. Do you have a belief in that respect? If not, how do you deal with the reality of death?
I am currently struggling with the sense that my grandparents- my boys’ great-grandparents- are coming to the close of their days. They may have five, ten- maybe fifteen- years remaining. But as life comes to its dusk, the odds stack higher and higher against us. How much longer, I ask myself, do I have these two wonderful old folks to share with my new family?
They meant so much to me, growing up. But you see, their legacy will continue in us. This is what Batty wanted. This is what he chose to do, exercising his ability to will: when I die, on day, I want to have chosen just the same; to have chosen, throughout my life, to draw my loved ones close and give them a legacy worth passing on.
Hear, now, Anthony Pate:
In contrast to Deckard is Roy Batty, the leader of the renegade replicants and Deckard’s doppelganger. Both men suffer the same pains – lack of knowledge and security about the natures of their identity and existence, the soul-deadening toll of their labors, their dissatisfaction with their circumstances and their subsequent inability to reconcile themselves to and master their reality. But unlike Deckard, Batty refuses to languish in inertia and depression because of the circumstances of his reality. Batty aims to do something – whatever he can – about it. Like Deckard, Batty is a murderer too. But unlike the murders Deckard commits for his job, which reflect his jaded dissociation and institutionalized impersonality, Batty’s murders are raw and impulsive, emotional and purposeful. They are also, in Batty’s mind, righteous.
A major symbolic element in Blade Runner is the eye: its reoccurrence throughout the film tends to indicate perceptions in general; and, more specifically, self-perception. Remember Jung’s Persona, the mask we develop as a representation of the Self- a representation that is so intimate that even we believe it to be ourselves? Blade Runner asks the question: what is it to be human- and what is an imitation? Does the difference between the two really matter?
To me, it does. I know that to some extent I am formed by the world I have developed in- the peers, situations and reactions around me have greatly influenced who I am now. I also believe that to a large extent I am capable of creating myself, of shaping myself into whoever I want to be. Does any of this make me false? I thought so, once. Now I accept it as fact.
I am a mixture of my environment, my upbringing, and my own devices. I may also be, at some level, programmed from birth. I don’t really understand how all these elements interact. There must be a healthy balance somewhere, a fine line where I can see myself as acceptable before God, so to speak: a whole and good person, redeemed in the process of refinement that experience provides.
It is my inclination to believe also that only once we have begun to accept ourselves as we are, beneath the mask, are we able to gauge with any accuracy the legacy that we are producing. I am Dan Parrington, stepfather, husband, son, grandson. I am Dan Parrington, straight-A student, dropout, reader, writer. I am also Dan Parrington, sometimes fearful, often in my own world, always sensitive to the needs and opinions of those around me.
A lifespan is what it is. I hope I can use mine wisely. I hope I can leave something good for those left behind. I fear the time when my predecessors’ mantles fall onto my shoulders, but I also intend to be ready. What about you?