Go Go Technological Singularity: Gadget and the Transcendent Man

Adam Jensen closeup

IMAGE: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Square Enix)

Last week one of my tedious rants – an exploration of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and its uncomfortably anachronistic depiction of race – was inflicted upon the kind people of Medium Difficulty.  I will therefore save the internet the burden of having me spout off at length twice.  Instead I thought I would just offer a little supplementary material that I was unable (for reasons of time) to include in the original piece.*

Because sure, Deus Ex is a striking vision of a dystopic future, mired in complex debates over the boundaries of human life in an encroaching digital age of technological augmentation and advancement… but it is by no means the only text that has tackled this thorny issue, using it to muddy the very definitions of what it means to be human.  No doubt your mind immediately leaps to Blade Runner, or The Matrix, or the Tin Woodsman from Wizard of Oz; but no, I am talking about an even more haunting vision of technological advancement run amok, a man whose never ending battle against evil is eclipsed only by his unceasing quest to once again recognise himself amongst the detritus of machinery that delineates the confines of his digitised corporeal prison.  A noir detective whose darkest mystery is himself:

Inspector Gadget.

Inspector Gadget up close

IMAGE: Inspector Gadget (DIC Entertainment)

I loved Inspector Gadget.  After all, how could you not?  How could anybody disparage a text that is so openly a precursor to every cyberpunk question of synthetic selfhood?  Was Gadget just circuitry?  Was he still man?  Where did the delineation between the two lie anymore?  Was he more program than personality?  The harbinger of the gates of simulacra and simulation being thrown wide open…?  Adam Jensen**, Ghost in the Shell, the Robo-esty of Robocops, the ‘Gadget’ preceded them all, and brought a steely resolve to a question of autonomy that daily must have gnawed at his very centre of his being. 

And speaking of his centre of being: where exactly was his brain if there was a retractable helicopter in his head?

In contrast, like Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes, or Joker to the Batman, Dr. Claw was obviously the shadow-self to Gadget’s heroism and world view.  Obviously a representation of all that irascible human angst and emotion that Gadget had left behind in his upgrade to uber status, Dr. Claw was primal.  He was id.  A mass of loathing and desire, stewing irresolvably in a swirl of seething emotional turmoil: stroking Madcat affectionately; slamming his gloved fist down in rage; laughing hysterically in sorrow…  He was so insatiably fixated on Gadget (always vowing there would be a ‘Next time!’; never able to just let it go, man), that he represents all those obsessive compulsions that drive the biological human at their most base, subconscious level.

Indeed, maybe we never saw his face because if we had it would have ultimately been Gadget’s own face staring back at us – all of the emotional undercurrent and self-reflective baggage that Gadget had thought himself to have transcended made manifest in an antisocial, antithetical ‘other’.  Gadget the machine, at war with ‘Gadget’ the psyche, in an endless struggle for identity-dominance, taking control of the ‘world’ that is his psyche.

…I’d also like to question where he got his doctorate, because I’m not sure he has the most exhaustive research methodology.

Yes, Inspector Gadget delighted and chilled my very soul – a synthetic Prometheus, tolling the inevitable transcendence of all biology in our obstinate pursuit of godhood.

Also, as I think back on it now, I probably had a crush on Penny.

Inspector Gadget helicopter head

IMAGE: Inspector Gadget (DIC Entertainment)

* This is what is called ‘a weak comic set-up’, or ‘lie’.

** I swear I found this after writing this nonsense: Critical Miss.

*** Whoa.  Did I just blow your mind?  No?  Dammit.

[An earlier, even less-coherent version of this ‘critique’ was inflicted upon the good people of AWTR]

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One Response to “Go Go Technological Singularity: Gadget and the Transcendent Man”

  1. Good day! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading
    through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
    the same topics? Thanks a ton!

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