Notes From THX 1138


[Aside] Wow, what a movie!

To say that some of the insights in sportsBabel might serve as signposts on the road to George Lucas' dystopian future in THX 1138 would seem to me to be a bit of an understatement. While sport does not appear at all as a theme in the movie, it still seemed very apparent (to me) that the professional sport-media complex is currently in the process of realizing and normalizing many features of Lucas' version of the control society.

A few notes after my first viewing:

  • Trent Reznor samples the thhhhwap sound of the electric police baton beating to kick off the opening number on The Downward Spiral, "Mr. Self Destruct." This just elevates what for me was already a masterpiece by Reznor.
    I am the voice inside your head / and I control you
  • LUH 3417, speaking to her household partner THX 1138: "I've wanted to touch you so many times."

    In the sedated and mediated world of THX 1138, touch between people — and a bodily awareness of self — is lost and/or subsumed to the electronic control apparatus.

    I am the lover in your bed / and I control you
  • Particularly noteworthy is the living room masturbation machine that THX uses as he watches a naked writhing black woman (the exotic Other?) on TV. Do we not sense this lost touch occurring today?
    I am the sex that you provide / and I control you
  • I have mentioned that this pantactile control system is facilitated by administrative numeration. Check out this photo above from the student film project, Electronic Labyrinth, that was Lucas' precursor to the feature length film. The number on the forehead certainly seems reminiscent of a culture in which individuals tattoo numbers onto themselves — or others.
  • How soon will we be able to close the gap between the detection of a signal by the machinic apparatus (an archiving) and its processing by a human agent? We can do this quite handily in times of crisis, but only on a very selective, local basis. How soon will artifical intelligence allow us to do the same thing more globally? This is the essence of the control society.
  • While we're here, what about the names? THX 1138, LUH 3417, SEN 5241 … remind you of AK 47 or CB4?
  • Gotta love the "digital Jesus" confessional. Foucault isn't dead after all…
    I speak religion's message clear / and I control you
  • Though I mentioned earlier that sport wasn't featured at all in the movie, we should not forget the ingenious little game that children play. It appears to be a form of tag played by a few children, with the rest of the children forming barriers with their arms that change periodically, as if miming a forcefield or digital switch. Very clever.
  • THX is chased by cops through the tunnels of the underground city, until the real-time budget of the chase is surpassed and control communicates to the robot cops to give up the pursuit.

    That is, a tenet of rational information-age capitalism (ie. a requirement to stay within the real-time budget) ultimately saves THX 1138 from the excesses of the rational information-age capitalist society.

    What a radical thesis!

    I take you where you want to go / I give you all you need to know / I drag you down I use you up / Mr. Self-Destruct – NIИ



One response to Notes From THX 1138

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  1. sportsBabel » Auto-Eroticism says:

    [...] way, we attempt to reassert our primacy over the machines that help us create our wealth, but as a masturbatory expression or repression of our own sexuality? And as we move from a political to a libidinal [...]