Sense8 Means So Much More Than You Think

hand of hope edited

WARNING: SPOILERS AHOY. YARRRRRR!

This article is intended for those who have already watched both seasons of Sense8. If you haven’t, reading this article may lessen the mystery and wonder of the way the story unfolds. Please come back when you’re done watching.

I’m going to make a case here that the un-cancellation of Sense8 shows the global consciousness shift and/or the assault on consensual reality have recently hit a tipping point.  To be honest, I’m feeling even more optimistic and idealistic than usual. That’s the only way I could write a piece like this at all. I take a roundabout path, because there’s a fair bit of background information you’ll need in order to notice the pattern. If you have the patience and attention span, check out the links in this article. Especially the videos. I chose them carefully to make the experience more immersive. Writing with hypertext in mind is almost too fun sometimes.

I was watching the show last night. Specifically, episode four of the first season, in which Nomi is drugged, strapped to a gurney, and directly threatened with invasive, unnecessary brain surgery. I had a sudden flash of why this felt so familiar. Then I had to sit back and take a few deep breaths, while considering the full implications of what it could mean. To save time and keep you interested, I’m going to state it here: It appears I may have stumbled upon verifiable, objective evidence of the existence of either precognition or something like it.

For the past four or five years, my best friend and I have been writing and revising our novel Refracted. It’s mainly the story of Steve, a psychology grad student, and Naomi, a subject in the drug study he’s running. After trying the experimental psychedelic being tested, Naomi begins having what she thinks are blackouts. Eventually, she and Steve realize she’s developed certain powers. (Trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible.) Like Sense8, our book deals with the transformative potential of psychedelics, the power of human desire, and how it may not always be a good idea to trust authority figures.  It even pokes fun at stereotypical gender roles and prejudice a bit.

For the purposes of this article, here is the important part of the novel: Once the doctors running the study find out about her powers, Naomi soon finds herself kidnapped, drugged, strapped to a gurney, and directly threatened with invasive, unnecessary brain surgery. I might think this merely a coincidence, but having a similar plotline and almost the same name strains the limits of credulity. Cultural zeitgeist or even the collective unconscious both seem like lazy explanations here, as well. Occam’s Razor might seem seem to favor a simpler explanation: foreknowledgemental time travel, or possibly dimensional jumping.

While the novel isn’t quite ready for publication yet, I would be glad to share screenshots of the emails and sections of the book that prove our first draft predates the airing of Sense8 by several years. I invite you to attempt to debunk this information. I am a chaos magician, which means I believe in results and independent confirmation. I am soliciting some peer review by qualified researchers, or journalists with a record of thorough, honest inquiry. Probably what I really need to get to the bottom of this is a pair of existential detectives.

So, now that you have my most unusual piece of evidence, let me give you the rest. Think about the scene in season 2, when we first see the true power of sensates’ ability to visit each other. Someone needs help or information (can’t recall who it is or what they need right now), so they send out the request to someone they’ve met. Then that person passes it along to whomever they feel is most likely to know. Then it happens again, and again, until we’ve seen how many faces? Thirty? Fifty? More?

When I first watched this scene, I realized it was a brilliant way of talking about net neutrality. Because the Internet, more than anything else in human history, binds us all together irrespective of physical location or demographic group. While it is only virtual rather than literal telepathy, the spread of meme culture and meme magic shows that it allows humans to spread ideas faster than ever before. When we are at our best online, each of us is a neuron in an ever-expanding, increasingly complex neural network that’s starting to become self-aware. Even if we are only sharing someone else’s article or hashtag, we have no idea how far or fast the meme may spread because of our help. Each of us is now a chaos butterfly when we want to be… and sometimes when we don’t.

As Sense8 rightly points out through metaphor, this makes the Internet an ideal platform for both evolution and revolution. We have seen it with Occupy. We have seen it with Bernie Sanders. The Arab Spring. All these were events the conventional media didn’t cover because it didn’t understand them or see them coming. Open-source organizing is our superpower. Those who would control and subjugate us fear net neutrality and encryption, because these technologies allow us the freedom and privacy to organize in ways they can’t predict.

We can see from Nomi’s relationship with her hacker friend how online conventions can change the way identity works. Likewise with the orgy scenes, which seem to suggest gender and sexuality become more fluid when bodies are out of the picture.  If you know someone for years via chat or gaming (or a telepathic web), maybe their body’s appearance doesn’t matter so much. You already know who they are inside, and until recently, it was hard if not impossible to verify whether someone’s online name, picture, age, or sex was genuine. Because the internet has always carried the expectation of near anonymity, online reputation depends more on words and accomplishments than demographics. This may also be part of why Facebook’s name policy continues to be so contentious with those whose survival or safety may depend on concealing their offline identity. 

We children of the internet age also process information very differently from our parents and grandparents. Take it from someone who’s worked in tech support for over 20 years: Unless they are technology enthusiasts, people older than about 40 seem to lack the ability to fully process all the information on a computer screen. I’ve often seen them struggle to find a word or icon, despite being told what it looks like and even what part of the screen it appears on. This isn’t even transhumanism; it comes from repeated observation. In general, the older the user is, the less likely they have the ability to process information on a computer screen the way we can.

The human race is already changing. We are seeing the approval of psychedelic drugs for post-traumatic stress, with 83 percent of patients showing no symptoms after just two sessions. We are seeing psychologists openly proclaim that most self-described psychics are not mentally ill. We are seeing what used to be called “human rights” slowly extended to other species. We are seeing even mainstream magazines referring to the technological singularity and fashion designers trying to embrace occultism. And when I look at my fellow Sensates, you bold and passionate and optimistic and unique group, what I see is a group of people who have dedicated themselves to empathy, cooperation, and (dare I say it?) heroism. We are the movement who will change the world without the plutocrats and autocrats ever seeing it coming. They lack the sensory apparatus to beat us at our own game.

The last time J. Michael Straczynski told an epic story about the sociopolitical and interpersonal implications of telepathy, he also went as far as he could with depicting a same-sex relationship and describing (but not showing) telepath sexuality. The show was almost canceled in its fourth season. This was the early days of the internet, so the fans found out via newsgroup. Their passion allowed the fifth season to be made. But even today, Babylon 5 is a show even many science fiction fans have heard of but never watched. Outside those circles, hardly anyone has heard of it.

The Wachowskis’ brilliant (if occasionally confusing) masterpiece Cloud Atlas had a similar fate: hailed by critics and award shows, but watched by almost no one. This was likely due to its daring and uncompromising portrayal of same-sex romance,  and a plot that took place simultaneously in six different time periods, with the same characters reincarnated over and over, in almost every conceivable combination of race, sex, orientation, and relationship type.  It was both directly and subtly subversive; not only was its epic, tragic romance between two young men, but in the two future time periods, only the predominantly Black and Korean societies were shown to have access to advanced technology. In contrast, the only tribes of Caucasian-looking people in the future had regressed illiterate, superstitious barbarians… and those were the ones who had it pretty good. The rest had regressed into murderous, grunting cannibals. Cloud Atlas‘s release was only five years ago now, but even that recently, the film was too ambitious and intellectually demanding for its time.

Times have changed. I sit here before you as evidence of that. But this article is not about me. This article isn’t about socialism, or open-source, or even proving the existence of psychic phenomena. I wrote this article because I want you to know that #IAmAlsoAWe. While I feel silly saying so, because of all the grandiose, pseudoscientific language that usually accompanies terms like “starseeds” or “Indigo Children”, I can’t deny that this phenomenon was predicted.

The resurrection of Sense8 is a shot heard around the world, but only by those who understand what it truly represents: that culture has shifted to the point where this kind of show not only gets made, but makes such a mark on the collective consciousness of humanity that it may be rippling backward in time. This might not even be the first time this has happened, and scientists already have two theories of how it could work. Even in the age of Brexit and Trump, the forces of peace and mutual understanding are still winning. Those movements are the last gasps (if we’re lucky) of a dying, self-defeating, increasingly irrelevant mindset. Over a long enough time span, in spite of setbacks and obstacles and mistakes, humans have always succeeded at bettering themselves and the world.  The truth points to itself, because information wants to be free.

We are all in for a wild ride, and once the dust settles, most people will have seen enough to believe us when we say we saw it coming. Until then, do your best to help inspire or liberate those who need it. Create whatever beauty in the world that you can, in whatever ways you know how. Every little bit really does help.

Let me close with two quotes, the first from Babylon 5, and the second from Cloud Atlas:

“G’Quan wrote, ‘There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way.’ The war we fight is not against powers or principalities. It is against chaos. And despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future. Or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born… in pain.”

“The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on and are pushing themselves throughout all time. Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

In camaraderie,  solidarity, and hope,

Jason

Jason Feldstein
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Jason Feldstein

Jason is a narrative artist, game designer, TV and film buff, anarcho-socialist, occultist, psychonaut, LARP veteran, and occasional Discordian preacher. He is an avid supporter of radical self-expression, knowing one's own limits, and cuddly cats. His motto is "Look closer." His gender identity is "meat popsicle".
Jason Feldstein
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