Ted Chiang’s story “Tower of Babylon” exhibits similarities with Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” because they both focus on sci-fi anthology and sexual immortality. The story of Chiang portrays ancient settings when cosmological principles were held to be true. The society was believing in geocentric models and celestial bodies. San Junipero recreated similar settings by claiming that both dying and dead people can live forever. San Junipero relies on the same cosmic principles declaring that people are immortal there. Cosmic principles are apparent in both sources that stresses on the homogeneity of the universe. Places appear similar to each other
Central plot in Chiang’s story depicts that Hillalum, a miner started his journey to Babylon for working on huge tower that had been under construction for centuries. Chiang mentions, “Hillalum imagined that he stood in the black gullet of Yahweh, as the mighty one drank deep of the waters of heaven, ready to swallow the sinners” (Chiang). By building the tower so high he managed to reach heavens. Hillalum’s journey transmits the themes of height and fear that convince readers to believe in the mystery of the life on heavens. The term heaven is used in the story for expressing the feelings of Hillalum about another world. That world is considered to be better so Hillalum is thrilled to become part of that tower construction.
In the episode San Junipero, Kelly is struggling to find an immortal world and decides to leave the temporary world. Kelly is dying and she expresses that she didn’t wanted to get closer to Yorkie. Kelly finds Yorkie in the hospital who had experienced accident and was in comma. On meeting Yorkie, Kelly convinced her to live in San Junipero because life there is permanent. The comparison of San Junipero depicts that it has used the themes of Chiang’s story in which Hillalum also searched for an immortal life. The existence of another world was revealed in the story as the author explains, “it moved slowly enough that Hillalum felt he could count the moments passing, but then it grew faster as it approached, until it raced past them faster than he could blink, and they were in twilight” (Chiang). The story reveals that the Babylonia society believed on the life hereafter. This can be linked to the San Junipero because Kelly also convinced Yorkie about her idea of moving to that world.
Sexual immortality revealed is revealed in the episode San Junipero because Yorkie came out as gay on crashing her car but parents rejected her sexuality. This motivated her to find a life support by moving to San Junipero. The themes portrayed in the episode have prominent relevance with the Tower of Babylon. The eagerness of Hillaum to reach heavens is not different from Kelly and Yorkie’s passion for San Junipero. Curiosity of finding life elsewhere has reverted the natural state of Hillalum and Kelly. The elements of human nature are revealed by Chiang such as the tedious jobs taken by humans and they desire for achieving something great. The story and the episode depicts that humans are fed up of their struggling lives on earth and want a relief that convince them to find a life in another world.
Hillalum in Towers of Babylon and Kelly in San Junipero attempts to find reasoning behind absurdity. This connect both sources to the themes of Babylon’s history. Man’s endless pursuits of glory and desire for immortality reflects true nature of man. The desire for finding heaven or an immortal world reflects that human attempt to find a world where they live forever.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Chiang, Ted. Exhalation: Stories . Alfred A. Knopf, n.d.
Debnath, Neela. Black Mirror season 3 San Junipero explained: What happened in San Junipero? . 2018. 11 12 2019 <https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/902894/Black-Mirror-season-3-episode-4-San-Junipero-explained-Netflix-Yorkie>.
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