Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Problem With Ashton Clark, Also, How Much I Hate Katin

In Nova, the figure of Ashton Clark seemed to be a somewhat enigmatic, yet fascinating entity in the backdrop of the action. At first, I perceived him to be a futuristic religious figure, and one who had been around long enough to made his way into the colloquial language to boot (“thank Ashton Clark”, and “Ashton Clark go with you” seemed to just be normal, modern, phrases with “God” replaced by AC). Moreover, I initially took this as a parody, perhaps some sort of neo-scientology that worshipped a man whose name definitely would not seem out of place on a sci fi cover. Katin’s eventual explanatory pontification on Ashton clark (one of many by Katin, which, to be frank, I found annoying) I realized it was not satire, but some sort of representation of an idealist economic theory cum spiritualism.

Ashton Clark brings up the of how religion works in a society where science has progressed that engineers become prophets. While there are many differences, this secular religion still seems alarmingly similar to the least attractive aspects of spiritualism. Take, for instance, Mouse’s seeming lack of understanding about the origin of Ashton Clark (which is arguably also just a weak device in order to get Katin to explain to the reader what is going on): he knows literally nothing about the religion, and yet uses its terminology as a reflex. Though he does not believe in it per se, growing up as an outsider in a Gypsy colony, the admission that they “swear by Ashton Clark” proves an equal acknowledgement of his spiritual clout, though for them as a devil rather than a saint. In that case, it is somewhat troubling that Mouse knows so little. A theoretical attraction to a “scientific religion” is the same attraction we have to science right now, hopefully there is a rational logic behind it that allows us to only accept it because we agree with that logic. However, in the case of AC, humanity is ascribing to a social/political/scientific position simply as a matter of faith. Though ailments like disease, nationalism and the limits of the speed of light seem to have all been eradicated, the world of Nova appears to be a dystopia none the less, for more reasons than the political conflict which frames the narrative. The “solution” to religion that Delay provides in conjunction with his solution to disease and space travel (all long-windedly explained by Katin, I’m sorry, I’m just not going to let this go) proves to only be more of the same. Too bad for the future.


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