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Travelling to the past and immortality.

In Ernest Cline’s novel, one can see a time frame which is set in the future- yet everyone seems to be obsessed with the past. The 80s culture (movies, music, pop culture, tv shows) has become the main cultural and social form for many characters in the book. The 80s became the trend because of  Halliday’s obsession with the culture and his fan following (seemingly everyone in the book) started going back in time – this of course was only so they could find the egg. This obsession with the past, starts out as a need, but then, especially for the main character, becomes entertainment: “spiked hair and acid washed jeans were back in style… a new subculture was born.” The reader, in this novel, is put into three states of time in this novel- the past, the present and the future.

The novel is set in 2045, the reader is reading it in his present time – for me being 2013 and the characters in the novel are fluctuating between the past and the present. Another concept which I would like to bring up is the concept of immortality. Immortality is a big thing in this novel, mainly because this theme is popular in gaming. In video games, players have many lives, if the character dies he is regenerated and one can continue or start the game all over again. Anorak, the character of James Halliday, is forever immortal in OASIS- he is seen around the virtual world and because he has sparked this new subculture and egg hunt, he is the topic of discussion in this novel- making him immortal. In reality he is dead but his character in OASIS is very much alive- his creation is alive and gives other characters in the novel a reason to live. His egg hunt, even when it becomes an urban legend of sorts- still lives on. Cline seems to allude to the immortality present in gaming- when one lives in virtual world, one can live on forever.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Travelling to the past and immortality.

  1. Great point about immortality and Anorak being around even though his real life character, Halliday, is dead. I had not really thought too deep into that until I read your post. It did make me think about the fact that anybody that has an Avatar is also immortal but more importantly all the information that is stored in computers is also immortal. Immortality is also a loaded word in this context. If there is a wide spread computer crash of some sorts then all the Avatars and information that is coded and stored in this medium will be gone. So in reality nothing is really immortal because there is a chance that it can be erased. Halliday makes that point at the end when he hands over Oasis to Parzival and shows him the red button behind the bookcase in the castle and then disappears forever.

    Posted by wjcasey | June 23, 2013, 1:27 pm
  2. I think the obsession with the past that you mention is linked to the immortality points you were making. Halliday was obsessed with a lot of things and the point is made over and over again that he wanted people to be obsessed with his obsessions. In that context, his obsession with the 80’s and then building of the egg hunt around that time period, resurrected some aspects of his most beloved memories. Immortality as a concept gets tricky when you bring technology in, because there are many aspects of technology that may make people or things to be immortal when they really are not. However, the concept of immortality of a name is something familiar. Although historical figures like George Washington or Caesar are long dead, they are still very much a part of our culture today. It appears to me as if Halliday sought this kind of immortality through his final project. He already would have been remembered as a great figure, but by adding the hunt onto his contributions to society, he had a small hand in forming a subculture and dictating what the word would be like from beyond the grave.

    Posted by Ben Tarhan | June 23, 2013, 7:24 pm

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