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TSPE vs. eXistenZ

As we are discussing The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, we have raised the question several times about ontology. Again, ontology basically means fundamental existence or the nature of existence. Can-D, the first drug introduced in Philip K. Dick’s novel, becomes ambiguous to readers because we cannot distinguish if the experience that entails chewing the drug is ontological or psychological. As the novel progresses, the concept of ontology becomes even more unclear as Palmer Eldritch forces Leo to take another drug, Chew-Z, in which Leo seems to be “translated” into another dimension but remains in his own body (so it appears).

The idea of ontology with respect to The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch got me thinking about ontology in other texts we have inspected throughout the semester. Although it represents another media form, eXistenZ begs the same type of questions about ontology as does The Three Stigmata. When I watched the film, I thought that the world of game designer Allegra Geller was “real” or ontology. Sure, the fact that eXistenZ is a movie complicates my definition of “ontology,” but from the perspective of another character in the movie, I would have dubbed that realm “real life.” Then, as the film continues, Allegra and Pikul transport themselves into unreal games, such as the scene in which Pikul shoots the Chinese waiter with his flesh gun.

However, as we discover much later in the film, my so-called “real world” was actually a game that the true Allegra and Pikul were playing; what I thought was ontological was truly psychological. And the movie leaves the audience questioning the reality of the final scene. Perhaps it is another game within another game within another game… Who really knows?

Have you ever wondered if the life you’re living is really ontological?

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