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  • Tyrell: We began to recognize in them a strange obsession.
    After all, they are emotionally inexperienced, with only a few
    years in which to store up the experiences which you and I
    take for granted. If we gift them with a past, we create a
    cushion or a pillow for their emotions, and consequently,
    we can control them better.

    Deckard: Memories! You're talking about memories!

    From the movie, Blade Runner

    Of course, many of us on this planet now are manufactured organisms, laboratory creations, born with no feelings, no history, no emotions, no souls, and you can tell only when you look closely in their eyes, and then you see an emptiness, a vacant stare into space, like those heroic farmers and workers in Soviet propaganda murals. These folks can fool you, until you get to know them, and then you find out that they can only function within a narrow range of their programming, and then you see it, the loneliness, the ache to be something they are not, the envy perhaps, of the rest of us, the fortunate minority, who are authentic humans.

    How do you and I know we are real and not genetic modifications? We know because we see things as they are, we see with our hearts. We know because we feel things deeply, small things, like the way we draw in a breath when a golden leaf swirls to earth in October, like the way we relax listening to rain, like the way we laugh when we make snow angels in winter’s first snowfall, like the way we want to reach out and comfort those who suffer. The manufactured ones know none of these emotions.

    We know we are human because we have…I don’t know quite what to call it…a sense of continuity, a sense of self, an intuition of immortality. We have a sense that there is this great continuity in life, going back to before we were born, and stretching ahead into some other dimension, and it is in this sense we know that we belong to something larger than this moment, this day. We belong, that is one of the keys. And in this, we have a reverence for life, a sense of the sacred, of connection, of community. The manufactured ones, even with the most sophisticated programming, don’t have this, can never have it.

    The others, the manufactured ones, have no frame of reference for this, no frame of reference at all. All they know is the present, and so all they can do is float in a sort of limbo, like little boats adrift, always at the mercy of the sea.

    We know we are human, perhaps most of all, because we have been given the blessing of memory, where we store thousands of tiny stories, images, moments in a tapestry, a living archive…some call it a soul. It is this soul that sets us apart, makes us human, weaves within us the gift of life and connects us to others, the way you and I are connected.

    Do you know what I mean?

    (Photograph by Alex in Blade Runner City, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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