Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Guest Blog: Kingdom and the Human Soul by Anderson O’Donnell
And since Bibliophile Stalker focuses on speculative fiction, I’m going to talk about the most, well, speculative aspect of Kingdom: the idea that there is a gene for the human soul.
Rather than presenting the human soul some sort of eternal manifestation of the self—a supernatural spirit that survives our physical demise—Kingdom explores the idea that the soul is a biological radio transmitter. And, as a transmitter, this gene is always working to receive a signal—a divine transmission. Now, the exact nature of this transmission is a little difficult to define: it’s not a message, but an apprehension that there is something else there. Its rather areligious: Kingdom’s vision of the soul does not correspond to any specific theology or even a specific God. Instead, it looks back to the beginning—the very beginning—when man and his Creator were still one.
Every culture has a myth about “The Fall,” or the event when man discovered he was a being separate from his Creator. Kingdom imagines the soul is the last remnant of the original connection—something like a postcard from Eden. The effects of a fully functioning soul gene are tangible, though far from obvious. It allows us to taste those sweet moments when the world feels as though it’s aligned and everything else around us fades away and we are aware that there is something more, something we cannot express, something even the most talented wordsmiths and poets have trouble describing. But it’s undeniably there…it’s something divine, something that’s larger than anyone or anything.
And this taste, this reminder, does marvelous things to the human brain, things science is only just beginning to understand. That’s why, when the signal starts to fade a bit, you can feel that something is wrong, that something is missing—that there’s a void you can’t quite put your finger on even if, superficially anyway, you’ve got all your fucking ducks in a row. So people look for substitutes: materialism, drugs, working 20 hours a day, etc. Most of the time, these substitutes, while inflicting long-term damage to the soul, to the ability of this genetic radio receptor to apprehend the divine signal, work well in the short term. On the other hand, there are people who have zeroed in on this signal; men and women who have managed to submerge the ego and get back to that Edenic unified state, to the time before the Fall when man and the divine were one.
Replicating the Soul
As this critical gene’s function is impossible to replicate (due to its preternatural origin), KINGDOM considers what would happen if mankind bioengineered human beings with a non-functioning soul gene; in essence, if we created a human being completely severed from this divine transmission. The results, as readers of Kingdom will see, aren’t pretty.
Anderson O’Donnell’s debut novel, Kingdom, is available now at Amazon (paperback and Kindle).