Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Value of a Human Life: Black Rainbow

Wendt presents his reader with a unified world society, governed by their President and Tribunal. The governing body not only enforces rules and regulations to bring order to the lives of it’s global citizens but reaches so far into their lives as to direct their purpose, their ‘quest’. Following the narrator through his personal quest, Wendt presents a few interesting ideas about the value of human life, as well as explores a couple of questions about the worth of a life in a social structure such as that created in the novel.
Firstly, there needs to be a reasoning behind the allegorical social order created in the story. The two possibilities produce the same story for the reader, and that is that Wendt has created an allegorical social institute, and storyline meant to reach into a few of the ideas concerning current global issues i.e. the greater involvement of the government is its citizens lives, and the increasing, and overlapping spider webs of legislation passed every year that continually undermines itself in the courts of law.
The other possibility is that the structure represents a radical, partially abstract view of impending future. It can either be viewed the world’s impending future, dramaticized of course with trends modified and magnified, or it is a ‘proposal’. The proposal being that society will eventually become so chaotic, or even ‘evil’ that the only way to rectifor control it would be with this vastly overbearing governing and directing body.
The President, and the Tribunal assign to each person born, or reordinarinised to an identity of their choosing. The identity is their role to play in the ‘Game of Life’ as they call it. Each person has a quest, and is in turn a part other’s quests. Wendt raises a few questions in the readers mind that I don’t think he particularly wants answered, but simply reflected upon. His complex, constantly shifting storyline make it, in a way, easier for the reader to think on a more non-definite level. By constantly changing the characters, the story, and by leaving an open ending it becomes evident that certainties and even rationalities are just about out of the question.
By referring to peoples lives as a part of a ‘Game’, it has to make the reader ask; Who wins? Clearly the narrator was ‘chosen’ to win, his quest was to be elite, possibly to become president but the novel ends with no winner, no president, and no conclusion. So what is to become of everyone else? Is everyone else’s quest to be a loser, to merely contribute to this one mans rise to power who in the end denies everything he is offered by the tribunal? Not only does the fact that his life was directed, and dictated by an outside force de-value his own existence, but the fact that he rejects his purpose ultimately anyway completely devalues the lives of everyone whose quest it was to help him reach that goal.
Even if one is to buy into the worth, and the value of a society in which everyone’s lives are directed harmoniously toward some ultimate goal, who is to be held accountable for their actions? Is our ‘hero’ a murderer as they accuse him, when those he killed stood in the way of him completing the quest given to him by their most supreme power? Is he one to commit treason in the act of refusing to love the woman that he was assigned to? Wendt makes the accusation of treason against the narrator evident at his hearing to show how the powers of the tribunal have gone so far as to punish those whose emotions do not correspond with the law, they sentence him for inability to love the one they told him to.
Most evidently of all, Wendt’s future reality has mastered nature tot eh point of being able to reincarnate the dead (Though nobody in the story is reincarnated) He actually manages to desensitizes the reader to the idea of death. The reader is unconsciously taken out of a novel and placed in a comic book/cartoon action story. Where is the value of a life when there is another one to look forward to? There is no game over, no final step, there isn’t even a finale to the hero’s journey. What fears can one have, what motivation when there is the possibility of ‘infinite tomorrows’. The society and the government that exists in the Black Rainbow removes purpose by erasing freedom. ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose’, said the master computer, and it is contradictory. Having nothing to lose gives one a wild freedom through lack of connection; reckless freedom. Having nothing left to lose, though, means that these people have nothing to live for.

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