We’re returning to our examination of Unitology and their relationship with the Marker. Both entities seem to emphasize oneness and rebirth. Today’s post will discuss how that relates to us and our culture.
In the final battle of Dead Space 2, you fight Nicole as a representation of the Marker. As she attacks you, there are a few key phrases that she repeats that point towards the ultimate goal of the Marker. These phrases are also connected with key tenets of Unitology. If you played the last battle poorly and had to start over multiple times, like myself, then you probably heard these phrases repeatedly. But repetition began to become deeper meaning the more I heard them. These two phrases have to do with oneness and rebirth.
“We will all be made one.”
The Marker’s goal, as revealed during the final battle, is for Isaac’s mind to meld with the Marker so as to increase it’s power and influence. This oneness with Isaac’s mind is what will help them reach their goal of being reborn (whatever that means). She needs Isaac for this because he is one of the makers whose mind was involved in creating this Marker.
During the battle Nicole repeats “We will all be made one” and “Make us whole.” The Marker promises this oneness and that is indeed a doctrinal focus of Unitology. The Unitologists believe that by following their rituals, worshiping the Marker, and ultimately dying (typically by ritual suicide) they will achieve a sublime oneness with each other and with the Marker.
As we saw with the first Dead Space, Unitology behaves an awful lot like a cult. In the game you get to explore one of their cathedrals and see all the secret rooms and things that were going on behind the scenes. One room shows the “indoctrination” chamber where an audio log reveals that they were doing inhumane experiments on converts. They were doing this to see how they could use the Marker’s power on humans to instigate “convergence”, their word for the oneness achieved through the Marker.
This desire for oneness with each other and oneness with a higher entity is a common concept in our culture. Some Eastern mystic religions believe in achieving a higher consciousness. Those who worship “Mother Earth” tend to believe that we’re all one big connected entity. This idea is expressed quite clearly in the movie Avatar where the natives can literally plug into their “living” planet. Another example is the movie The Fountain where the ending seems to point to a person’s existence melting back into the universe or nature, or whatever. In both examples, there is this idea of tapping into a collective consciousness or returning to the “consciousness” of nature.
In the first Dead Space you find out that the later stages of a Necromorph infection leads to the cumulative bio-mass of the infected people molding together into a gooey genetic soup that coats the walls (quite a disgusting prospect). In Dead Space 2 we have Nicole, as the enemy, calling for Isaac to join this “oneness.” Elements like these convey the message that blending into one big jumbled being is not a desirable fate. The Necromorphs are depicted similarly to something like, say, the Borg. They both show how it is a bad thing to be deprived of individuality and mushed into a larger collective. In both the positive and negative depictions of this concept, there is a clear desire for some kind of transformation, often expressed as a rebirth.
“We must all be reborn.”
In order for the above process of oneness to take place, a “rebirth” must occur for all believing Unitologists. Throughout the game you can see where people have ritualistically killed themselves so that they can take part in “convergence” with the Marker. Is this really the kind of rebirth that we want? No, not really, and Dead Space seems to agree. The game’s narrative has Isaac declining Nicole’s request to join in her “wholeness” by way of destroying the Marker.
There’s a major problem with the Marker’s idea of wholeness, as well as any similar ideas held by some of our culture’s belief systems. They all seem to point that would have us transform from an individual, conscious state of being to a collective state of being in which there is either a shared consciousness or no real consciousness at all. Isn’t this a huge step backwards? Even evolution would state that we went from cosmic dust to a primordial ooze, then eventually to where we have now become living, reasoning creatures. Why would we then want to go back to the inanimate state of nature from which we supposedly evolved?
The Marker is an inanimate object, yet Unitologists believe that it will bring a new life. How can such an object bring life when it is itself not living? The Bible tells a parable in which a man cuts down a tree and uses part of the wood for a fire to make tools, warmth and food. Then, with the other part he fashions a god, which he then worships. How ludicrous is that? How can something inanimate, fashioned by man, have any power to bring salvation or rebirth? This guy and the Unitologists both falsely attribute life and power to something that is just an object.
Even if the means of rebirth are wrong, the game and our culture still acknowledge that rebirth is indeed necessary for us all. There’s a longing in us that recognizes the need to be made new. Jesus calls us to a rebirth that is much different from what our culture or Unitology describes. When speaking to a man named Nicodemus about rebirth, Nicodemus became (understandably) confused, thinking that he would have to literally reenter the womb in order to come out a new person (that is as ridiculous of a concept of rebirth as that of Unitology).
But no, Jesus meant something else. Jesus’ version of rebirth is a spiritual one that is symbolized through an act called baptism. Remember earlier when Isaac is mentioned as the Marker’s “maker” and how he is necessary to achieve wholeness? Well likewise, we must turn to our maker to receive wholeness in ourselves. The act of baptism allows us to figuratively die (not literally commit a ritual suicide), and submit to God who then makes us new people. As in, you will be a new person. Not a shapeless bit of consciousness mixed in with a greater whole. Some other beliefs (like Unitology) would suggest to you that the ultimate existence is to be reborn as an indistinguishable ingredient in a larger being. However, Jesus’ offer of rebirth redeems us as individuals instead of taking away our personhood.
Who or what makes you whole (or feel whole)?
Does the thought of abandoning your identity to something greater sound appealing?
Next time we’ll finish Dead Space 2 by talking about distorted reality.