"Disembedded" Buddhism in a Techno-Global Cosmology: The Case of Spike Jonze’s Film Her (2013)
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AbstractThis essay explores the subtle but key influence of Buddhist ideas in Spike Jonze’s highly successful 2013 film Her, which reflects the currents of disembedded Buddhism woven through ostensibly non-Buddhist cultural spaces and texts, engaging with contemporary social concerns. In Her they manifest most surprisingly in the character of Samantha, an artificially-intelligent consciousness that transcends the limitations of ego-based thought. Like the Buddha, Samantha has capacities that extend beyond the reach of ordinary humans, and by imagining these extraordinary powers of thought we are provided a glimpse of an absolute reality beyond our experience of the everyday. In this sense Her’s techno-global cosmology parallels miraculous aspects of the Buddha that are embedded in premodern cosmologies.