How to Be a Genuine Fake: Her, Alan Watts, and the Problem of the Self

  • Author(s): David L. Smith
  • When: 2014-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Spike Jonze’s Her brings the twentieth-century religious writer Alan Watts back to life in more ways than one. It reanimates him as a character, but more importantly, it incorporates and revivifies many aspects of his thought. More than a story about artificial intelligence or the uses of technology, Her is a film about what it means to be human, and Watts’s approach to this question informs Jonze’s at every step. Above all, Watt’s understanding of the nature of the self, and his broadly Buddhist analysis of how and why people and their relationships tend to go wrong become unifying themes in Jonze’s story. Through Watts’s influence and legacy, an effective love story also functions as a thought-provoking parable of contemporary values and spiritual aspirations.

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