Serial Experiments Lain, an anime esoterically celebrated for its avant-garde visual style, storytelling and relevantly: philosophy. The collective unconscious (Jung), ontology of humankind, the essence of God and the like. Nevertheless the eye of the bird, the obsessed yearning drawn outwards (for me), was Lain’s room. As the show progresses, Lain transforms her Navi – the personal computer – progressively into an exceedingly complex technical apparatus, as to access the Wired – a virtue proto(advanced)-internet space.
A red personal computer, its form accentuated by the tidy empty room, now holds numerous adjuncts, possessing the room in its entirety. Floating holographic displays congregate in front of lain, dispersing as it moves around the room; extending bundles of wires and gauges, liquid coolers and the occasional leaked fluid accumulating the floors: the Navi and the room start becoming one.
The strain of thought sustains, why the longing? Is it the cyberpunk aesthetic, the coagulation of water, wires and numerous monitors – an inherent scifi-ness that birthed the attraction? Rather a non-material aesthetic, a way of becoming itself?
Will as necessity – In Will to Power, the posthumous reflection of his penultimate state pre-mental breakdown, Nietzsche ventures towards – as he himself outlines – “An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values”. What is the “alternative” to European Nihilism? Other shoddy resolutions in the shadow of God? The Will, and the foundation multiplicity it governs.
The Aphorism Weakness of the will, conceives of the weak will, a non-existence of a dominant will as such, and the strong will, the only will.
The multitude and disgregation of impulses and the lack of any systematic order among them result in a “weak will”; their coordination under a single predominant impulse results in a “strong will”Will to Power, Friedrich Nietzsche
As he sees it the individual, even abstract human-systems at large, can be analyzed as the result, the sum and difference, of interactions amongst multiple impulses; ones that attack each other, an arena of unresolvable contradiction – until a takeover or mutual demise. The Will is the dominant impulse that emerges from the conflict. As Deleuze puts it “Essence, on the other hand, will be defined as that one, among all the senses of a thing, which gives it the force with which it has the most affinity”.
Then, is not Lain’s room the material explication of the strong will? As the impulse takes over, an exploration of the Wired. First, an act of probing the Wired, later herself. She forgoes the craving for societal validation, and human connection, the explicit marker the socially unacceptable shambles of her room.
Is not the Will necessary for self-overcoming? For if the impulses exist in conflict, none claiming an upper hand over another, we witness an impasse. Inaction, in the strictest ontological sense. However, the strong will, the only will? It poses a direction. Overcoming asks: what must be overcome? An answer that the will provides; alas, the proof of its necessity.
Return to Lain – Particulars of Lain also delineate the relationship between willed (unwilled) chaos (order). Consider order in the performative sense. A stable morning routine, consisting of numerous checklists – meditation, journaling, affirmations – to be marked off before the day begins. In comparison, Lain is not performatively ordered. A single glance returns the perceived conception of a chaotic, unkempt, internet-addicted youth.
But, Lain wills her chaos. It is “order” in the meta-sense, the lone significator. The unwilled performative order, aptly represented in the archetypal capitalist entrepreneur – morning routines as described, calendars scheduled every quarter of an hour – yet unwilled. Lain, however, wills. Consequently, performative chaos comes out, but performative only in perception. Her will refuses to perform as such, or authentic will must.
A remark: Lain also hints at a characterization at willed conception, as performative perception, of cybernetic theory. Internet, robotic implants, and the other-new; all for the next overcoming, for the will that provides direction.
In Action – Now, an elucidation to understand the Will. Let the will-sphere be the independent space, a collection of wills. Independent as in the maximal extensive collection, such that no contradictions exist amongst two different will-spheres. Thus, the coexistence of two (or more) wil-spheres remains possible, at times even complementary. Focus on independence as pertinent to a lack of contradiction rather than the non-existence of any relation.
Assume a state of weak will, the battleground of impulses, no victor in sight; the battleground of the will-sphere. Emergent from the struggle, creating on its conflictual grounds, is the only will, the strong will. That which “affirms its [the will-sphere, in this case] difference” (Nietzsche and Philosophy).
Authentic action only permits one will per will-sphere. Succession of wills, one after the other, after the overcoming of the current-will, the next will is – and so on, cannot exist as influencers of authentic action. As it assumes a certain essentialism, disregards the transformation of the wills, the destruction of the current wills, the creation of new ones: the transvaluation of all values.
Possibility exists that acting on a certain will destroys it, even prematurely as self-overcoming is in progress. A destruction of the peak in climb. Actualization of a will, the completion of self-overcoming, can affect other will-spheres as modes of transvaluation.
In material practicality, the weak will can be broadly represented with Boredom; as anything where a lack of clarity exists to move beyond. As boredom is embraced, the battle permitted, then can only the strong will emerge.
Weak Will (Battleground of Impulses) → Strong Will (the Emergent Impulse)
Thus, the perpetual cycle of becoming repeats.
Deleuze, Gilles. Nietzsche and Philosophy. 1962.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power. 1901.
Serial Experiments Lain. 1998.
For the Image, Lea’s Repository, Navi Progression: Serial Experiments Lain