CASC Lumen Magazine_Spr 2021

LOGOS Journal

“body.” She notes that Pseudo- Ash looks like Ash “on a good day,” owing to the fact that his appearance is based on flattering photographs. Thus, Pseudo-Ash’s body omits parts of Ash’s embodied history. While this might make himmore attractive, it betrays the fact that Pseudo-Ash is not Ash. In a scene perhaps intended to evoke Christ and Thomas, Martha puts her hand up to Pseudo-Ash’s when touching his body for the first time. But where Thomas finds evidence of Christ’s embodied history, Martha experiences the unnatural smoothness of Pseudo- Ash’s fingertips, verifying that “the really tiny details [of Pseudo-Ash’s body] are visual.” His body bears the marks not of Ash’s life but of his own artificiality. Martha’s experience of Pseudo-Ash’s body is perhaps reflected in her complaint that “there’s no history to you.” One might suggest that Martha ultimately rejects Pseudo-Ash simply because he is a poor imitation of Ash. He lacks qualities that Ash had or basic human qualities, forgetting Martha’s sister or not breathing as he sleeps, for example. Martha does react negatively when Pseudo-Ash fails to imitate Ash. By this logic, the problem is just a failure of technology; given technological improvement or more data, Pseudo- Ash could be a true resurrected Ash for Martha. But a fuller account of Martha’s rejection can be found in Pseudo-Ash’s lack of personality. We can see this by analyzing Pseudo- Ash’s divergence from the two key

The character Martha, played by Haley Atwell, waiting for a “text” from her deceased partner “Pseudo-Ash” in the “Black Mirror” episode “Be Right Back.”

aspects of the person in Maritain’s account: depth and wholeness. Martha’s rejection of Pseudo-Ash is caused by the absence of Ash’s deepest “metaphysical center” (the person). This is suggested through two scenes involving the appropriately titled Bee Gees song, “How Deep is Your Love.” Before Ash’s death, Martha is surprised to learn that he likes the Bee Gees, objecting that “in ten years, you haven’t played them once.” When Ash names “How Deep is Your Love” as his favorite of their songs, Martha protests, “It’s not very you,” obviously seeing Ash’s affection for the song as uncharacteristic. Later, when Martha puts on “How Deep is Your Love” in the car with Pseudo-Ash, he smirks and calls it “cheesy.” Martha says nothing, but her disdainful look suggests that his reaction has confirmed his inadequacy. These two scenes verify Maritain’s observation that “love is not

concerned with qualities . . . but with persons.” Ash’s affection for the Bee Gees is not just another quality that Pseudo-Ash fails to imitate; it represents the depths of Ash’s person that could not be fully known to Martha even after years of relationship. Martha does not react negatively to Pseudo-Ash because Ash’s affection for the song was a quality that she loved or even was accustomed to. Rather, it is an indicator that beneath however many Ash-like qualities he might possess, Pseudo-Ash is not Ash. This constitutes Martha’s ultimate rejection of Pseudo-Ash: “You aren’t you, are you? . . . You’re just a few ripples of you.” Martha realizes that “you” was not an adjective to describe Ash’s qualities (“it’s not very you”) but an address to his person. Beneath his qualities lies not just “the power to objectify and remake,” but the true object of love.

To hear more fromwriter Paul Treschow, join LOGOS Journal editors Dr. Dave Deavel and Liz Kelly for Season 1, Episode 2 of the “Deep Down Things” podcast.

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