In a church hall somewhere out in the boonies Allegra Geller will go on-line with members of the audience as they experience the world of eXistenZ, the new game she has developed and is now beta-testing. In earlier Cronenberg works Antenna Research would have rushed out the game with faults and the disaster would have followed from that, but just as Cronenberg has given up the media world of television he explored in VIDEODROME, he has moved on to the new fashion. The fault may not lie in the company, it may lie in ourselves (if we are games players).
Ted Pikul, an intern in the company training scheme, is Allegra's bodyguard, and oddly unaware of what the company does. Lacking the bioport on his back he can never have played games; lacking any sort of interest he does not realise the importance the reclusive Geller plays in the world, nor the hatreds she has incurred. When the demonstration ends in a bloodbath Pikul has to take Geller on the run, and wanting to get into her pants, he has to get into her bioport by agreeing to a fitting of his own.
Pikul and Geller go into hiding via various battles and betrayals, and once in hiding they can explore the world of eXistenZ, a world that mimics that our own (or Cronenberg's at least. The inspiration for the film - and this gives you some idea of Cronenberg's weltenschaung - came from an 1995 interview between the director and Salman Rushdie). Much of the last hundred pages is set in that ludic world.
Whether Novak has in turn, amplified the underlying philosophy I can't be sure, but it was put in a couple of quotation of Nietzsche's: He who fights with dragons may someday become one; and Beware of looking too long into the abyss, for the abyss may one look into you. The web-site for the film puts it another way: before the film ends the players are not playing the game, the game is playing them. Novak becomes Priest towards the end when Pikul and Geller have to consider their beginnings: were a games goddess and a management junior really thrown together in a distant township, or were the events of the opening pages already occurring long after the game began?
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