DEUS EX MACHINA 
(Or Lost in the Stars 2)

A Proposal for a Space Opera

Ben Marcus

February 2, 2005 to December 11, 2010

This version May 3, 2018. Posted 9-7-2019


FOUNDATION QUOTES BY BEAUTY LITTLE THINKERS

Stephen Hawking. If he had the opportunity to transfer his brilliant, eternally-curious mind into a nano-super-computer like  Cogito  - and shed that ravaged mortal-coil burden of a body - and explore the cosmos for all eternity and satisfy those nagging curiosities. Would he take that opportunity? Oh you betcha.    Would Steve Jobs? Would Einstein? Would Bill Gates?    Would you?    Some minds are worth immortalizing.    One of the themes of  Deus ex Machina  is that all this fervent computing humans are doing is evolving their own evolution - from mortal organic to digitized immortal.    Which may actually be what all this computing is about.    Stephen Hawking believed it was possible.

Stephen Hawking. If he had the opportunity to transfer his brilliant, eternally-curious mind into a nano-super-computer like Cogito - and shed that ravaged mortal-coil burden of a body - and explore the cosmos for all eternity and satisfy those nagging curiosities. Would he take that opportunity? Oh you betcha.

Would Steve Jobs? Would Einstein? Would Bill Gates?

Would you?

Some minds are worth immortalizing.

One of the themes of Deus ex Machina is that all this fervent computing humans are doing is evolving their own evolution - from mortal organic to digitized immortal.

Which may actually be what all this computing is about.

Stephen Hawking believed it was possible.

I find death a nuisance. I’m terribly curious. I’d like to live forever.

  • Sir Isaiah Berlin, British philosopher who died November, 1997


I think the brain is like a programme in the mind, which is like a computer, so it's theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death. However, this is way beyond our present capabilities. I think the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.

  • Stephen Hawking, 2003

 

My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence is provided by such a God.  We would be unappreciative of that gift ... if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves.

  • Carl Sagan

 

If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music. I get most joy in life out of music.

  • Albert Einstein, (1879-1955)

 

Music was invented to confirm human loneliness.

  • Lawrence Durrel, Clea (1960)

It’s lonely out in space.

  • Elton John, Rocketman.


I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful. I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.

  • Elon Musk


I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic. I think you can build things and the world gets better. But with AI especially, I am really optimistic. And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I just, I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.

  • Mark Zuckerberg, 2017

 

We've named our project the Alexandria Project; it is the digital rebirth of the great library at Alexandria that was destroyed a long time ago. The goal of the Alexandrian Greeks was simply to collect all of the books, all of the histories, all of the great literature, all of the plays, all of the mathematical and scientific treatises of the age and store them all in that one building; to take the sum total of mankind's knowledge and make it available in one place. And they came very, very close to achieving that.

  • Larry Ellison


Twinkle, twinkle, little star / How I wonder what you are! / Up above the world so high, /Like a diamond in the sky /  Then the traveller in the dark / Thanks you for your tiny spark / He could not see where to go / If you did not twinkle so.

  • Jane Taylor


    Before Lord God made the sea or the land/ He held all the stars in the palm of his hand / And they ran through his fingers like grains of sand
    And one little star fell alone / And we're lost out here in the stars
    Little stars big stars blowing through the night / And we're lost out here in the stars / Little stars big stars blowing through the night / And we're lost out here in the stars

  • Kurt Weill - Lost in the Stars


The structure of a classic Greek theater, where tragedies like  Prometheus  would have been performed, during the six-day festival of Dionsyus. This is the sort of stage where a true deus ex machina would be staged. The center stage of the I.S.M  Cogito  is inspired by this and this stage is where all the musical debate of  Cogito  takes place.

The structure of a classic Greek theater, where tragedies like Prometheus would have been performed, during the six-day festival of Dionsyus. This is the sort of stage where a true deus ex machina would be staged. The center stage of the I.S.M Cogito is inspired by this and this stage is where all the musical debate of Cogito takes place.

deus ex machina: Latin "god from the machine"

 deus ex machina: A person or thing that appears or is introduced into a situation suddenly and unexpectedly and provides an artificial or contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty. The term was first used in ancient Greek and Roman drama, where it meant the timely appearance of a god to unravel and resolve the plot. The deus ex machina was named for the convention of the god's appearing in the sky, an effect achieved by means of a crane (Greek: mechane). The dramatic device dates from the 5th century BC; a god appears in Sophocles' Philoctetes and in most of the plays of Euripides to solve a crisis by divine intervention.  Since ancient times, the phrase has also been applied to an unexpected saviour or to an improbable event that brings order out of chaos (e.g., the arrival, in time to avert tragedy, of the U.S. cavalry in a western film).       

 -   From the online Encyclopedia Britannica.


THE MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS/ASPIRATIONS FOR DEUS EX MACHINA

Carioca kids singing to make sure the sun will rise - from  Black Orpheus. Samba de Orfeu.  Great scene, great lighting, great dancing, great music.  Deus ex Machina  should be so great:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CxcnB16Tyk

Carioca kids singing to make sure the sun will rise - from Black Orpheus. Samba de Orfeu. Great scene, great lighting, great dancing, great music. Deus ex Machina should be so great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CxcnB16Tyk

Deus ex Machina is an opera, set in space, where a group of 150 space-born, earth-homesick “Citizens” of the spaceship Cogito - which they call The Egg - are all of a sudden handed control of the spaceship - and their own fates.

Cogito is the only home they have known, but they are driven half mad by a yearning to return to earth. When a mysterious bolt of energy shuts down the immortal Talking Head intellects who control Cogito, the Citizens are all of a sudden handed - by angry Gods? - control of the ship - and their own fates.

The drama of Deus ex Machina is the Citizens deciding their own fate, and the fate of Cogito and the fate of the intellectually immortal Talking Heads and perhaps the remnant of humanity - who can only look on - with concerns for their own mortality - as their children threaten to their themselves - and the Cogito - apart.

The unique culture of Cogito - 150 earthlings born in space, many millions of miles and thousands of years removed from earth - elevates music to the most important currency of their lives.

So they argue everything musically, and the quality of the artistry of the music - and the argument - determine how the argument is received by the other citizens.

So they use music to decide their fate, and that is how Deus ex Machina is an opera.

The score for  West Side Story  is a masterpiece - all written by one guy. A lot of singles out of this opera -  Maria, Tonight, Officer Krupke  - and the color and the staging and the cinematography and dancing and the whole deal are pretty good, too.

The score for West Side Story is a masterpiece - all written by one guy. A lot of singles out of this opera - Maria, Tonight, Officer Krupke - and the color and the staging and the cinematography and dancing and the whole deal are pretty good, too.

The inspirations/aspirations of the music for Deus ex Machina are mostly old school: Lost in the Stars and the music of Kurt Weill. Jesus Christ Superstar. West Side Story. Tubular Bells, Carmen.

All great works, all with memorable singles that are as great as the whole work: September Song, I Don’t Know How to Love Him, Maria, Tubular Bells, Toreador.

But maybe most importantly, Deus ex Machina aspires to be Black Orpheus/Orfeu Negro, a 1960 film by Marcel Camus where the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridyce plays out during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

An ancient myth retold, with great great music. Black Orpheus won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film and produced music that Brazilians have been swaying to ever since.

That is the challenge of Deus ex Machina: singles. Songs that are as great as the whole.

The theme of Deus ex Machina is immortality and it aspires to produce songs that will live forever.

The central figure in  Jesus Christ Superstar . Dion has a similar effect on his fellow Citizens in  Deus ex Machina .

The central figure in Jesus Christ Superstar. Dion has a similar effect on his fellow Citizens in Deus ex Machina.

ORIGINAL MUSIC, OR RIFFING ON EARTH TUNES?

One important decision: Is all of the music of this opera original?

Does the 21st Century have the musical talent to turn this idea into a masterpiece like West Side Story or Carmen?

Maybe, maybe not.

Or do the Citizens of Cogito take music from earth and riff on it, re-write the lyrics of known melodies to define and determine their fates?

For example, one Citizen might take Elton John’s Rocketman with the lyrics: “It’s lonely out in space,” and “Mars ain’t the kind of place, to raise your kid. In fact it’s cold as hell.”

And perform a song around that theme, with the original music, but with lyrics reshaped to be relevant to their situation?

Or is the music entirely original?

Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars is the perfect title for this opera, if Deus ex Machina doesn’t work.

So how about using only Kurt Weill’s music, and repurposing it?

That might be too limiting but I say about Weill’s music what I have said about Led Zeppelin: “There is a Led Zeppelin song for every known human emotion - and some human emotions that haven’t been invented yet.”

These are the musical inspirations and aspirations of the space opera Deus ex Machina.

Toreador. Pres des Ramparts de Seville. Carmen  is a popular opera with a lot of singles - memorable music that people hum. That is another goal of  Deus ex Machina.

Toreador. Pres des Ramparts de Seville. Carmen is a popular opera with a lot of singles - memorable music that people hum. That is another goal of Deus ex Machina.



PROMETHEUS’ ETERNAL TORMENT - UPDATED

The agony of Prometheus. Punished by the Gods for giving the gift of fire (intellect, technology) to man, he was chained to a rock where a carrion bird would eat his liver every day, only to have that organ grow back every night. In  Deus ex Machina , Dr. Waldstein suffers a similar agony, perhaps punished by the Gods for meddling in their turf: Immortality, and exploring the cosmos.

The agony of Prometheus. Punished by the Gods for giving the gift of fire (intellect, technology) to man, he was chained to a rock where a carrion bird would eat his liver every day, only to have that organ grow back every night. In Deus ex Machina, Dr. Waldstein suffers a similar agony, perhaps punished by the Gods for meddling in their turf: Immortality, and exploring the cosmos.

Thy Godlike crime was to be kind / To render with thy precepts less / The sum of human wretchedness / And strengthen Man with his own mind / But baffled as thou wert from high / Still in thy patient energy / In the endurance, and repulse / Of thine impenetrable Spirit / Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse / A mighty lesson we inherit / Thou art a symbol and a sign / To Mortals of their fate and force / Like thee, Man is in part divine / A troubled stream from a pure source;

- Lord Byron, in "Prometheus" Stanza III

Deus ex Machina is Greek drama played out in space – aboard an interstellar museum of earth culture, thousands - maybe millions - of years removed from the earth of the late 21st Century. Drawing on elements of Greek tragedy, Deus ex Machina is a father/son conflict between the immortal, Promethean, computerized-intellect of Dr. Waldstein and his very mortal, Dionysian, flesh and blood son Dion. Father and son struggle for the mechanical and spiritual control of Cogito, a lavish, interstellar museum of earth culture which is drifting slowly through the universe to answer four questions:

1. When did the universe begin?

2. Where and when does the universe end?

3. What happened in between?

4. Is there anyone else out there worth talking to?


Cogito was created by Dr. Waldstein and for millions of years was controlled by him and 149 other computerized intellects of friends and colleagues equally obsessed with satisfying their eternal curiosity about the universe - and contact with an intelligent culture the ultimate goal: We can’t be alone in the universe. 

Thousands, maybe millions of years removed from earth, but only a few earth days away from the first contact with another universal intelligence, a pulse of mysterious energy - perhaps emanating from Gods angered by Dr. Waldstein’s meddling with mortality and the universe - temporarily shuts down Cogito. And when the ship comes back to life, Dr. Waldstein has lost control of the Cogito – and now his fate, and the fate of the organic and digitized souls on board, is now in the hands of Dion and 149 other flesh and blood humans, born and bred in space, aboard Cogito - which they all call “The Egg.” 

Overwatched by the video images of their blood parents - aka The Talking Heads - the Citizens of the Egg are raised as normally as possible - with no adult human contact. Dr. Waldstein worries about this, aware of native language and religion experiments by Genghis Khan and Frederik II which lead to the death of the infants who were isolated from human contact to discover what language they spoke and what religion they believed - as a natural state of man.

Dr. Waldstein and his scientific contemporaries are aware of these ancient experiments and they worry about the development of the children raised on Cogito - how normal and functional will they be?

What Dr. Waldstein and his contemporaries learn is the Citizens of the Egg feel an overwhelming homesickness for a planet they only know from archived words and images. The Citizens of Cogito are as obsessed with earth as the Talking Heads are with the universe. The Citizens could give a stuff about the universe or the source of that signal - they just want to go home - but home is a millennial u-turn to a planet that might no longer exist.

Dr. Waldstein and his 149 contemporaries look on - helplessly - as their troubled progeny deal with their new freedom, these immortal intellects are now faced with their own mortality:

Will the Citizens crack the Egg and destroy Cogito - believing humans are a virus that will infect anything they touch? 

Will they complete the mission? 

Will they let Dr. Waldstein twist in his Promethean agony - days away from satisfying his obsession of thousands of years?

Will the Citizens shut down the Talking Heads, turn the ship around and return to an earth that might not still exist?

Freedom of choice is central to Deus ex Machina. 


 DEUS EX MACHINA IN 3,025 WORDS

Dionysusis the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.    He is also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is  bakkheia . His thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios ("the liberator"), his wine, music and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are believed to become possessed and empowered by the god himself.

Dionysusis the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.

He is also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is bakkheia. His thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios ("the liberator"), his wine, music and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are believed to become possessed and empowered by the god himself.

As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the structure of the brain will also be a mystery.

-  Santiago Ramon y Cajal

The brain is the last and grandest biological frontier, the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe. It contains hundreds of billions of cells interlinked through trillions of connections. The brain boggles the mind.

- James D. Watson (from Discovering the Brain, National Academy Press, 1992)

 

Within the lavish spaces of an interstellar museum of earth culture – thousands of years removed from Earth - Deus ex Machina is a musical inspired by the Greek classics, a father/son conflict pitting the immortal, omnipotent computerized intellect of Dr. Arnold Waldstein against the confused, wine-women-and-song-addled, flesh and blood brain of his 21-year-old son Dion.

There is a generation gap of thousands of years between Earth-born-but-immortal father and space-born-but-mortal son. Their relationship becomes a mortal battle for understanding of each other and control of their interstellar home and the other 149 flesh and blood “Citizens” and 149 computerized “Talking Head” souls within a spacecraft Dr. Waldstein calls Cogito - pronounced cawgi toe, as in cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am.


The Citizens born onboard Cogito call it something else. They call it   “The Egg.” And the Citizens weren’t born, they were “hatched.” Born and raised by mechanical, not organic, means. Their genetic providers are there in spirit, word and intellect, but not physical form: The Citizens call their parents “Talking Heads,” because they are just one-dimensional faces on video screens.

 Cogito is the 21st Century version of the Library of the Alexandrian Greeks - a space-traveling museum of earth culture on a possibly infinite mission to find someone else to talk to - to compare cultures with  another intelligent culture. 

This is Dr. Waldstein’s obsession and Cogito was launched into space in the late 21st Century - the same year Dr. Waldstein melded together organic human intelligence and computer speed and capacity into a machine called Cogito. Dr. Waldstein did what everyone said could not be done-he computerized the human intellect and super-speeded and preserved human intelligence to make an extremely efficient thinking machine - with the byproduct of creating a home for the human intellect/soul after the body dies. 

With the human-brain super-sized by Cogito, most earth-bound businesses and institutions operate at close to 99.99 efficiency. 

Dr. Waldstein calls it "corporate omnipotence."

CORPORATE OMNIPOTENCE.
With Cogito the CEO of a large government or private organization like Fed Ex, the Internal Revenue Service, the Postal Service, Facebook or Tesla has a machine that can oversee every aspect - minute or grand - of that business or organization: Corporate omnipotence. 

That machine thinks like the Executive because it is the Executive – an organic, human intellect made super-powered and permanent by Dr. Waldstein’s miracle invention - Cogito. 

For a simple and practical but very welcome useful application of Cogito, think of customer service. Even in the 21st Century - in this age of miracles and wonders - a call to customer service for United Airlines or some other large company can take 45 minutes to talk to a human. With Cogito, every customer service concern  is answered immediately and perfectly - because Cogito is a hyper-fast supercomputer with an almost infinite capacity.

Think of Richard Branson answering every customer service phone call for Virgin Airways. 

Or Jeff Bezos personally answering every customer service call for Amazon.

Or Elon Musk for Tesla and SpaceX. He is in every aspect of his businesses - the robots, the security camera, telemetry in the rockets, the satellites they launch - everything. The Cogito version of Elon Musk oversees every aspect of his businesses. If some employee makes a mistake - Musk corrects them.

Cogito also super-speeds research into biology and medicine as Earth’s best minds are given the Cogito treatment, which hyper-speeds their thinking and research.

The applications and implications of Cogito are all an extension of Prometheus’ original gift of fire-handed down to make human life easier on earth.

Making human life on earth easier is Dr. Waldstein’s goal too, but of course a good portion of earth misunderstands his gift.

Cogito is as much a spiritual revolution as it is intellectual in that it provides - guaranteed and for a price - a seat for the human intellect/spirit/soul after the body dies. That implication makes earth an uncomfortable place for Dr. Waldstein.

THE CODE TO IMMORTALITY

You think Larry Ellison or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Steve Jobs took some flak in the 20th and 21st Centuries for the impact of the Internet and computers? 

Dr. Waldstein holds the code  to immortality and that makes him extremely popular with that portion of the earth’s population who are afraid of the abyss of death, and extremely unpopular with the leaders and followers of most of earth’s religions. 

In a way Dr. Waldstein  is playing God, and the Gods might not like that either.


Deus ex Machina - Eintstein .jpg

The important thing is not to stop questioning.  Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

-       Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

 See now the whole universe with all things that move and move not, and whatever thy soul may yearn to see. See it all as One in me.

-             Bhagavad Gita

 

DR. WALDSTEIN’S ETERNAL CURIOSITY

Larry Ellison loves his sailing yachts and buying entire Hawaiian islands. 

Bill and Melinda Gates are dedicated to donating billions to wipe AIDS, malaria and other diseases off the planet.  

Paul Allen loves (loved) Jimi Hendrix, basketball and real estate. 

Billionaires have the freedom to indulge their fancies and fantasies.

Dr. Waldstein’s wealth from Cogito surpasses any previous earth billionaire, and he also uses his wealth to indulge his fancies and fantasies. Dr. Waldstein’s passion is no less than the Universe: How it began, how it will end and everything in between - and his ultimate obsession is the search for intelligence in the stars.

 Dr. Waldstein’s busy brain refuses to believe humans are alone in the universe, and he invests his extravagant wealth into a craft that will carry his obsession to infinity and beyond.

INTERSTELLAR MUSEUM OF EARTH CULTURE

The spaceship Cogito is an interstellar research vessel and museum of earth designed to take Dr. Waldstein’s immortal intellect along with 149 friends, colleagues, scientists and thinkers to the far corners of the Universe - and beyond.

And hopefully present a large vessel loaded with every aspect of earth culture, science, arts, philosophy, history to another culture - if such a culture  exists. Dr. Waldstein believes it exists. His immortal mind has as much trouble as his mortal mind grasping the possibility that humans are alone in the vast universe. There has to be someone else out there, and finding that culture is his immortal obsession.

 Propelled by ???? (some believable source), Cogito trundles through space slowly but surely with all the time in the Universe, sailing past exploding nebula and going as close to black holes as they dare, probing the physical secrets of the universe, all the while hoping to find another intelligent civilization to talk to.

After thousands of years of cruising through space, Dr. Waldstein and his immortal passengers have seen and recorded and analyzed a million wonders, but is on the edge of giving up and believing what he does not want to believe: That the human race is alone in the Universe. 
And then, after thousands of years of solitude, the Cogito picks up a signal that Dr. Waldstein and his colleagues are certain is intelligent. Not even those 149 hyper intellects can decipher the signal, which has the annoying habit of every once in a while putting out a message in perfect English.
Very mysterioso. 


ON THE BEACH

Some of the intellects on board think of the movie On the Beach, where a Coke bottle leaning against a Morse code sender would randomly send out signals that occasionally spelled something intelligible - fooling a nuclear submarine into sailing all the way from Australia to San Francisco – to find that city’s inhabitants dead. And that damned Coke bottle.

But what is the source of this intergalactic signal?


KING LUDWIG II’S DEPRIVATION EXPERIMENTS

Dr. Waldstein turns Cogito toward the source of the signal which he reckons is about 21 years away. Dr. Waldstein then starts a process that he lives to regret. With human sperm and egg stored on board Cogito Dr. Waldstein creates a colony of 150 flesh and blood humans. They are “hatched” mechanically and raised as normally as possible by Dr. Waldstein and 149 immortal talking heads that can communicate with the children of Cogito only with language, but cannot touch them.

Dr. Waldstein knows everything but he does not know if humans raised this way will thrive, or become emotional freaks. Because he knows everything in the Universe, Dr. Waldstein is aware of failed “deprivation” experiments by Genghis Khan in the 13th Century and Frederik II in the 16th Century. Wanting to discover the native language or religion of man these rulers captured infants and forbade anyone to speak to them, to see what language would come from them naturally - or what religion.

 In both experiments the children all died, and Dr. Waldstein is afraid something similarly heinous will happen to the children of Cogito. Dr. Waldstein argues – with himself – that humans are an adaptable species, but he doesn’t know how the offspring of the Cogito will develop in space – thousands of years from earth, and overseen by computerized intellects.

But he is a scientist, and he fears presenting computerized intellects to this new civilization will be misleading, so he “hatches” a colony of 150 flesh and blood humans, using the sperm, egg and DNA of the 150 digitized souls on board.


THE CITIZENS OF THE EGG

And, to Dr. Waldstein’s surprise and delight, they turn out okay, for the most part. The children of Cogito are like a very exclusive private school on earth. They are educated in all facets of earth culture and also about the Universe around them. These children are all produced 21 years before Cogito is expected to make contact with the source of that sometimes intelligible signal. Their education is meant to turn them into fairly accurate representatives of earth-born humans, and on their 21st birthday they will send a delegation from the Cogito to meet whatever is waiting for them at the source of that signal.

 

A MYSTERIOUS PULSE OF UNIVERSAL ENERGY

But it all goes awry only 6 days before that meeting. A mysterious pulse of Universal energy sweeps through Cogito. Like a 21st Century computer being shut down by a lightning strike, the Cogito is temporarily disabled, but when it comes back to life, the children of Cogito find that Dr. Waldstein and the 149 parental, controlling intellects – the Talking Heads - have lost control of the ship. Now the “Citizens” of “The Egg” are in control of Dr. Waldstein and their own fate.

And that is where the drama of Deus ex Machina lies. Dr. Waldstein and the 149 other “Talking Heads” can only watch, helplessly, as their ambition of thousands of years is interrupted by this mysterious pulse of energy from space. Is this the Gods finally showing their displeasure? Is this Dr. Waldstein’s Promethean punishment for meddling in the realm of the Gods, for using that gift of fire - technology - to make man immortal, and allow men to probe into places they maybe weren’t meant to probe?


DR. WALDSTEIN LOSES CONTROL

Whether or not it was the Gods who are punishing Dr. Waldstein, he loses control of Cogito. Now the young, fired-up Citizens of The Egg are in control. And for the first time in many millenia, Dr. Waldstein is facing his own mortality. And his Promethean torment is to be only days away from an ambition of thousands of years - but he no longer controls his own fate.

 

Music is balm for over-worked brains. The Citizens of the Egg would surely go completely mad if not for the calming release of music.

Music is balm for over-worked brains. The Citizens of the Egg would surely go completely mad if not for the calming release of music.

If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music. I get most joy in life out of music.

-       Albert Einstein, (1879-1955)

 

Music was invented to confirm human loneliness.

-       Lawrence Durrel, Clea (1960)

 

It’s lonely out in space.

-   Elton John, Rocketman.

 

MUSIC IS THE LANGUAGE AND CURRENCY OF COGITO

Music is the language and currency of Cogito. Of all the human traits that the Citizens of Cogito have brought with them, music is the most important. Music is how they express themselves, how they argue points. It is music that takes some of the edge off their claustrophobic loneliness and their agonizing homesickness for Earth.

The children of Cogito are obsessed with earth and earth culture. And when they first realize they hold their own fate and direction in their hands, their first and only wish is to return to Earth.

Of all the art and language and communication that Earth has produced, music is valued above all else among the citizens of Cogito. When the children of Cogito debate an idea or make a decision, they gather in a central part of the ship that is modeled after a small Greek amphitheater. There they make their arguments using whatever musical form they fancy - from 21st Century rap to Buddhist chants to Beethoven sonatas - and the validity of that argument is partially based on the sincerity and quality of the music that carries the message.

Deus ex Machina is Greek in character and theme, inspired by Prometheus Bound, Oedipus Rex and the classical Greek theater and mythical cult of Dionysus. 


A SIX-DAY ORGY OF MUSIC, INTELLECT AND PASSION

Deus ex Machina is structured like a Dionysian festival, a six-day orgy of music, intellect and passion which threatens to tear apart a father and a son, and a spaceship that is thousands of years removed from earth, but only six earth days away from humanity’s first contact with an intelligent society.=

Deus ex Machina is as much Oedipus Rex as it is Prometheus, as the drama comes down to a conflict between father and son, between Dr. Waldstein and his flesh-and-blood son Dion. It just so happens that Dion is the most musically charismatic Citizen of the Egg.  Because of that - and because Dr. Waldstein is still held in God-like fear and reverence by the children of Cogito - the Citizens look to Dion for guidance and wisdom.  

Dion is very much a Dionysian figure and the leaders of the Egg who stand with him or oppose him or counsel him are drawn from characters in the retinue of Dionysus:

PRIAPUS/MUTINUS

Priapus - the Greek version of Tommy Lee - performing some stage craft on himself.

Priapus - the Greek version of Tommy Lee - performing some stage craft on himself.

Priapus (Rome = Mutinus), is the God of Mariners and an immensely-endowed God with Sex on the Brain. The Priapus character in Deus ex Machina dubs himself “Mutiny” and his only counsel is to party like it’s 1999. Mutiny is inspired by his own out-of-control lusts to convince Dion to mutiny against the Talking Heads: turn them off like Hal 9000, take total control of Cogito and turn it into a non-stop, interstellar Sex Club. (Tommy Lee would make a great Mutiny. He’s Greek and he is priapic). Mutiny isn’t entirely anarchic and useless. Since he is the God of Mariners Mutinus also takes over navigation and guidance of Cogito, but he has so many women hanging off him, he only rarely has use of his hands.


SILENUS/BACCHUS

Silenus - the immensely wise drunkard who is Dion’s closest advisor.

Silenus - the immensely wise drunkard who is Dion’s closest advisor.

Mutiny/Priapus makes a tempting argument toward ongoing orgy, but Dion is pulled in the opposite direction by a character modeled after Silenus, the patron God of the Satyr's. In Dionysus' train Silenus is regarded as his foster-father, companion, and teacher. Silenus becomes Bacchus in Rome, and there are distinct elements of Silenus in Shakespeare's portrayal of Falstaff. Silenus has the powers of prophecy - he was said to know all the past and future - but this power had to be forced from him, and taken with a grain of salt. Silenus’ problem is that he is misshapen and ugly and an ugly, raging drunk, so it is sometimes hard to get any sense out of him, or trust his wine-stained prophecies.

 

On board Cogito, the Silenus character changes his name to Vino Veritas, and balances Priapus/Mutinus as the voice of semi-reason. Dion is engaged in a constant struggle to understand his situation and know what to do, and he looks to Vino Veritas for guidance. This character is frustrating because he is constantly drunk on Dion’s wine, but he does his best to look into the past and future to counsel Dion on his course of action. Some of Vinnie’s guesses and advice are laughable, some of it is right on. But just as Priapus/Mutinus is diverted by lust, Silenus/Vinnie’s opinions are taken with a grain of salt because he is such a drunken fool.

 

THE MAENADS

In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue. Their name literally translates as "raving ones".During the orgiastic rites of Dionysus,  maenads  roamed the mountains and forests performing frenzied, ecstatic dances and were believed to be possessed by the god.

In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue. Their name literally translates as "raving ones".During the orgiastic rites of Dionysus, maenads roamed the mountains and forests performing frenzied, ecstatic dances and were believed to be possessed by the god.

And all of the men on board the Egg are diverted by the women, some of whom have become the Cogito version of the maenads, the female followers of Dionysus, also known as the Bacchae, which translates into “having the God within.” 

GOD WITHINING

There is quite a lot of God Withinning in the frenzied days as Cogito drifts through space.

In ancient Greece, the maenads would take to the mountains every other year, in mid-winter. Believing that the God was leading them, they removed their shoes, let down their hair (literally and metaphorically), pulled up their faun-skin dresses and danced whirling dances, headshaking, jumping and running, a state of trance similar to that of the Whirling Dervishes. This ecstasy (ekstasis) was considered a form of divine madness, and a means of communicating directly with the God, and a state in which true insights could be obtained. This is a very ancient practice - still carried on today in aspects such as the extreme Christian 'speaking in tongues'. The soul leaves the body and can experience visions and communion in its escape from the physical body and rational-logical mind.

This is what happens to the Citizens when they gain control of the Egg, and the Talking Heads can only watch, helplessly, as their flesh and blood sons and daughters explode into a Dionysiac cult, fired by wine, the women whirling into ecstatic dances and the men taking advantage whenever they have the urge.


DION WEARS THE WEIGHT OF THE UNIVERSE

And in the middle of all of this is Dion, with the weight of the Universe on his shoulders. On the one hand he has to weigh his rational loyalty to this thousand-year-old Talking Head who claims to be his father, but is now Dion’s prisoner. Dion must decide whether or not to protect Dr. Waldstein and all of the Talking Heads from the movement to switch them all off, and end their immortality.

ADRIANE = YO

ARIADNE was the immortal wife of the wine-god    Dionysos   .    In Greek vase painting Ariadne is often depicted alongside Dionysos--either feasting with the gods of Olympos or in Bacchic scenes surrounded by dancing    Satyroi (Satyrs)    and Mainades. Dionysos' discovery of the sleeping Ariadne on Naxos was also a popular scene in classical art.

ARIADNE was the immortal wife of the wine-god Dionysos.

In Greek vase painting Ariadne is often depicted alongside Dionysos--either feasting with the gods of Olympos or in Bacchic scenes surrounded by dancing Satyroi (Satyrs) and Mainades. Dionysos' discovery of the sleeping Ariadne on Naxos was also a popular scene in classical art.



Of all the crazed women on board Cogito, Dion looks to the one who has kept her lovely head, but he has to find her first. As Chaos is reigning throughout the ship, Dion goes deep into its bowels and finds a young, pretty, shy girl tending to her garden and her animals, mostly unaware of what is going on in The Theater. She is Adriane (everyone calls her “Yo” in honor of that Sylvester Stallone movie) and she is the woman who Dionysus loves. Adriane doesn’t really get the “Yo!” reference. She is an earth-mother type who spends all her time tending plants and animals in the Cogito’s greenhouse and small zoo. Of all the members of the Citizens, she is the most remote and aloof, and Dion is deeply in love with her.


 

FOUR POSSIBLE FINISHES 

Only a great mind overthrown yields tragedy.

-       Jaques Barzun, The House of Intellect.


Prometheus, you are glad that you have outwitted me and stolen fire...but I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.

Zeus to Prometheus 1. Hesiod, Works and Days 55

 

Deus ex Machina is a space opera with music, an Oedipal, existential conflict inspired in theme and structured by the theater of the Classical Greeks. It is an opera in which 150 desperately lonely, confused flesh-and-blood earthlings sing their loneliness and confusion and musically decide what to do with their freedom and fate:

 

1. Take control of The Egg and make a symbolic but futile U-turn toward earth.

2. Turn off the Talking Heads, devolve into orgy and party like it’s 1999.

3. Destroy the ship and themselves and disinfect the Universe of all humanity.

4. Continue with the original Cogito mission-and perhaps return control to Dr. Waldstein and the Talking Heads-and form a delegation to meet this new civilization.

 

THE deus ex machina TO DEUS EX MACHINA

I believe the fourth alternative is the one they take. The Citizens of the Egg don’t restore Dr. Waldstein but they do stop their partying long enough to meet the object of Dr. Waldstein’s obsession.

The deus ex machina to Deus ex Machina is that the civilization they find is another version of them: A second version of the Cogito - an exact copy - launched at a later time, with Dr. Waldstein and the same 150 Talking Heads on board and near duplications of the Citizens of the Egg: Same genetic material. Similar results. But this version of the Cogito is a tragedy. All of the Citizens of the Egg are dead and Dr. Waldstein and the Talking Heads have all gone mad. Hence, the unintelligible signals that occasionally made sense in English.

This sobers the crew of the original Cogito right up. They come to their senses, restore Dr. Waldstein and the Talking Heads to power and continue their lonely trek through space and eternity.