The Endless Search For Love

“Look into a mirror, and you will behold both the
problem and the solution.” – (said by a member of a CODA group, “Co-dependents Anonymous”)

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
–Albert Camus

One rainy, cable day, several years ago, I had the occasion to view two movies back to back: “The Castaway” and “AI (Artificial Intelligence”). I
have noticed over the years that movies which I particularly like seem to get bad reviews (e.g. AI and “Demon Seed”).

The protagonist in “The Castaway” (played by Tom Hanks) is marooned on an uninhabited island for 1500 days. As a substitute for human companionship, he takes a soccer ball and creates an effigy which he names Wilson. He is constantly in dialogue with Wilson, who becomes a
kind of alter-ego for. Their relationship is a love-hate relationship which oddly resembles the relationship between Salamano and his dog in Camus’ “The Stranger”. The castaway is able to feel quite a bit of love
and devotion for his imaginary Wilson, and towards the end of the film even risks his life in an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve Wilson, who has drifted away from the raft. His love for Wilson certainly exceeds the love
which his wife has for him when he finally returns to civilization and finds that she has remarried and built a new life.

Ironically, the very next movie that I viewed, ‘AI’, by Steven Spielberg, was a complimentary investigation into the nature of love, and the human and “non-human” capacity for love and devotion. The futuristic society
depicted in AI has become quite dependent on robots, and also quite strict in population control. Some scientists desire to create a child robot with the capacity to love a parent and serve as a substitute for a natural child.
As the scientists discuss the project to develop a robot which can “love”, a profound question is raised, namely, “What is the human’s obligation to the robot which now offers unconditional love, and is a human capable of
loving a machine.” Obviously, you will all see the parallel between this question and the love and devotion which a human displays in “The Castaway” for a soccer-ball effigy named Wilson.

The movie, AI, seemed to me to depict humans as baser beings than the noble and idealistic robots. The humans appear as selfish, opportunistic, jealous and sadistic. The robot-child, David, yearns for the unconditional love of his adoptive mother, Monica (Augustine’s mother was Monica).
But such unconditional love is something which the eal-life Monica is incapable of giving. David idealizes in his mind the adoptive mother into something which she can never be, just as the castaway idealizes the soccer ball Wilson into something which it can never be.

We all yearn for love. We all yearn for something idealistic which can never be actualized in reality. Our quest for love is an endless, Sisyphean task. At the end of “The castaway”, the protagonist meets a new woman,
briefly, on a roadside, and realizes that there is the possibility of other relationships, and that life goes on. At the end of AI, in a story-book-fairy-tale fashion, David recreates his mother for one perfect day of unconditional love, and then merges into the “Lila” of that love for
the rest of eternity.

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