Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Writer/Director Notes: "Shadow Self" (Enter The House Between Episode #2)

As we continue our short interregnum before the two-part finale of Enter The House Between Season 1, I want to take a quick look back at our second episode, "Shadow Self."

This story involves the birth of the first lar-human hybrid, Eris, and a malfunction in the smart house that causes different quantum realities to bleed together, sowing confusion and chaos for our denizens.

If you want to get caught up on the episode first, here is the YouTube link for "Shadow Self:"


 And here is the Spotify link for this installment:

This particular story is about a few concepts that perpetually intrigue me.

To a large extent, all Enter The House Between stories concern our modern world, and the way that people of different beliefs, values, politics, etc., have separated themselves into separate bubbles of information and learning, in large part due to social media and cable news. Common ground appears to be melting faster than the ice caps. We retreat into our self-selected bubbles and in those bubbles reckon only with information that we already agree with.

Of course, in the House Between universe, the technology of smart houses permits users to access different quantum realities -- or different Everett Branches -- of the multiverse. In each such "shelf of the Quantumsphere" people encounter alternate versions of themselves, their friends and their lives. 

In "Shadow Self," the smart house malfunctions so that these realities physically bleed into one another, and it becomes difficult to know which reality is true. As a result, our denizens encounter "ghosts" or "shadows" and start to grow distanced from one another. Our Astrid (Kim Breeding-Mercer), for example, feels estranged from Bill after seeing an alternate reality version of him act in an unfaithful fashion.

What is the end result of a world in which we can no longer agree even on basic facts about reality?  

Well, to ponder that, I went back to the Biblical story of Babel, in Genesis 11:1-9, and the idea of people confused by each other so much that effective communication becomes impossible.  

There, a tower could not be completed because understanding broke down. It's not difficult to extrapolate this idea to our modern world. Our towers will break down, and fall too, as we lose, more-and-more, the capacity to understand others, and, secondly, empathize with one another.

The title of the story, "Shadow Self" comes from Carl Jung, and his concept in human psychology of the "shadow."  His "shadow" is the dark side of one's self, a blind spot in the ego.  So, what happens when we nurture blind spots intentionally? When we don't seek out information that contradicts our beliefs?  What shadows are born by turning away from facts, from things we might find uncomfortable or problematic, in our entertainment, in our politics, in our philosophy, even?

But the concept of the shadow goes deeper in Enter The House Between. If each personal decision creates a new reality branch, what responsibility do we have to our shadows and their well-being? How do we know we are not a shadow self?   

One thing I despise about most modern stories about the multiverse is that they just want to show us a funhouse mirror.  It's fun and games where nothing matters. Yet, alternate universes, if they exist, are populated by people like us.  People with feeling and emotions; people with aspirations and dreams. If we land there, is it right for us to treat that alternate world like a second-class reality simply on the basis that we don't hail from it? This is fertile ground to explore in Enter The House Between. Our central villain this season is a deranged cult-leader (with legion, a weapon of mass destruction) who destroys all realities he encounters because he believes only his world, his reality, his belief, is true and legitimate.  

Ever meet someone like that?

In terms of character growth, "Shadow Self" also sees Theresa (Alicia Martin) grappling with the idea of becoming a mother (and dealing with her own shadow self: the specter of how her family treated her, when she was younger), and that's simply a reflection of a concept in communication we call the Johari Window.  

The Johari Window measures the idea that there are things we know about ourselves, things we hide about ourselves, and things we are blind to about ourselves. But one pane in that window -- the final one -- is reserved for potentiality.  It's the place for those things you don't know about me, or yourself, and what I don't know, either. So, for example, twenty year old me didn't know how much I would like being married. And thirty year old me didn't know I would love being a dad.  Forty year old me didn't know how much I would love teaching.  Fifty year old me didn't know how much I would hate going bald...

And so forth.  

This is also the "shadow self" that is always in flux, always changing, with the fluidity or elasticity of life.  The possibility of new pathways in consciousness; of potential realized. In "Shadow Self" Theresa finds herself having one of those moments we all have, in which we step into a new, re-defining role, making amorphous "potential" (in this case, motherhood), reality.

I hope some of this whets your appetite to re-listen to the episode, or give it a first whirl!  If you like what you hear, please like and subscribe, or even write a review.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Starlost 50th Anniversary: "Children of Methuselah"

  The Starlost,  “Children of Methuselah” is one that seems very familiar in terms of sci-fi TV tropes.   The idea of a society of wayward c...