Your cart is currently empty!
Under the Cover: Imagining new worlds in Mirror’s Edge
Alex Passey’s novel Mirror’s Edge (At Bay Press) is a philosophical trip through two polarized worlds — a hyper-capitalist, burgeoning transhumanist society and a community-minded, woodland paradise — and the fallout when those ways of living collide. Below, Alex tells us about the politics explored in his novel and what good speculative fiction is for him.
“I found merit in the idea of attachment being the root of all suffering, and the suggested practices of subverting the ego.”I was learning what I could about Buddhism and eastern spirituality, along with the facsimiles thereof that are so popular here in the west. Much as there are legitimate criticisms to be made about the spiritualist self-help industry, and the way it thrusts responsibility for all the world’s ills onto the individual while forgoing conversations of deeper systemic problems, I did find some solace there. I found merit in the idea of attachment being the root of all suffering, and the suggested practices of subverting the ego. (Though like many others before me, I eventually also found that it is not so easy to simply philosophize yourself past mental illness.) But then I did what I usually do, what I would never advise anyone to do, and I explored some online communities rooted in this new thing in which I took interest. And I found what you often find in such online communities. An echo chamber filled with people on a constant quest to mould themselves into the perfect embodiment of the grand narrative their community is rooted in, castigating anyone who deviated from the acceptable dogma, patting each other on the back for properly embodying the dogma, while also forever collectively refining that dogma to be more esoteric and exclusionary.But there was something unique about some of the people I found in these communities of new-age spiritualism that made it even more jarring than others. In their self-perception of their own mysticism, there was a kind of communal divinity with nature that they fancied they enjoyed, which extended to the entire universe, except for fellow human beings who failed to meet their contrived standards of enlightenment. And thus, Sara’s world was born.
“Even if we see one world much closer in relation to ourselves than the other, if we dig deep enough, we might find that the grand narratives which drive these communities, separated by dimensional boundaries of reality, are not that different.”So whether it is Rath’s world of burgeoning transhumanism, where social media is transplanting sociability and corporate branding is religion, or Sara’s world, that has eschewed industrialization and embraced a path of mysticism and communality with nature, even in such seeming polar opposites, these are mirrors of our own world. Even if we see one world much closer in relation to ourselves than the other, if we dig deep enough, we might find that the grand narratives which drive these communities, separated by dimensional boundaries of reality, are not that different. The world we live in is a chaotic mess of competing cross-narratives, where truth is a slippery thing, and I do try to bring some of that to the book. But I also try to pin these grand narratives down so that we might rightly examine them, and perhaps through that, examine those of our own world.Along with the detachment that allows us to engage our world from a different perspective, Mirror’s Edge also strives to provide the escapism as well. One can find much to be positive about exploring the cultural nuances of both worlds through the sunny, idealist lens of Sara, with her optimistic curiosity. But also through the lens of Rath and his Camusian absurdism, so that we never fall into the trap of taking things too seriously, at least for as long as Rath himself can avoid it. Because the magic I was speaking of earlier, it doesn’t come from philosophical dissection of society. It comes from the ability to laugh, whether it be at a dad-pun or from the kind of dark joke that you could never tell while meeting your mother’s eye. It comes from the ability to feel emotion for the people around us and the world we live in, even if they’re just shared hallucinations we derive from staring at ink on paper. The magic is those moments of elation when we find ourselves as something more than a Self in this world, when we shed the preoccupation of physical locality and commune as something more. I suppose it’s fairly ironic that I don’t think there is anything more important in this world than our capacity to imagine different ones. I hope you’ll take the time to imagine the worlds of Mirror’s Edge with me.
* * *Alex Passey is a novelist and poet, living in Winning. In addition to Mirror’s Edge, he is also the author of the upcoming high fantasy book From Heart’s Fire Forged.
* * *Thanks to Alex for sharing the imagination behind Mirror’s Edge — now available for sale on All Lit Up.For more Under the Cover, click here.