The ultimate empathy machine

the cinema of the future

if you think you’ve seen it all — no, you haven’t

Jonah Angeles
4 min readMay 5, 2023
Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

welcome to
the cinema of the future

take your seats

soon,
it will be time to dream

the cinema of the future
runs on empathy
(and imagination)

you can be
whatever you want
to be
for the next three hours,
approximately

you can be the hero
of the story

or someone more
unsavory

maybe
you want to be
an anthropomorphic animal
or a talking tree
like Groot
in Guardians of the Galaxy

we’ve got you covered

in the endless sand
of this sandbox,
everything is possible

every audience member
hallucinates —
no, experiences
a unique, tailor-made
cinematic experience
(never to be repeated)
premiering and disintegrating
in tandem
(never to be repeated)

in other words,
this experience is just for you

you can live out
any headcanon,
any fanfiction —
and you can do it all
without any silly
(bureaucratic) friction

we have zero concept of
“intellectual property”

and if the
Orwellian Thought Police
come knocking, tell them:
“I’m a spiritual being having
a cinematic experience!
then state you also happen
to be the Creator of Everything
(and you can write them out
of existence at any moment)

Picasso once said:

“Art is the lie that makes us realize truth.”

the cinema of the future,
then,
is a subterfuge
that submerges
the viewer in the
gospels of tomorrow

everything will appear as real
as the reality you know

minutes may
(or may not)
feel like hours

your experience here
begins and ends with you
and how far you are willing
to dream

Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

an open mind;
a closed loop

mind the gap — it’s
full of algorithms and
digital artifacts

this is not a place
for escape;
here, you can see it all
(if you want to)

forget yourself
for now

forget the world
you know

let go of yourself
(-concept)
as your reality
begins to dissolve
around you
only to be replaced
by the stuff dreams
are made of

sit back and lose yourself in
the holographic dome above;
allow it to transport you
to new elsewheres,
procedurally-generated
in real-time

time is dilating
relax and breathe
one… two… three…
three…… two…… one……

you are safe here
for the next two hours
and fifty-nine minutes,
approximately

Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

the cinema of the future
can offer glimpses into what
the world used to be

since the future is now,
speculation is obsolete

everything that was
ever going to happen
has already happened
in every conceivable way

it’s all already been done before…

let the lucid dream manifest
inside your visual field,
warping your mind with
digital renderings

isn’t that nice?
isn’t the future just so darn cool?

if you think you’ve seen it all —
no, you haven’t

bet you’ve never experienced
what it’s like to be something
you’re not — anything other
than who and what you are

the cinema of the future
offers a more personal,
intimate kind of
Blockbuster

the ultimate
empathy machine,
cinema can change us

and we,
the audience,
awed and engrossed by
such onscreen experiences,
leave the theatre —
smiling and bright-eyed —
despite being shrouded
in dark(ness) and suspense
(for hours) with a
(whole-ass)
auditorium of strangers,
fellow filmgoers
(and Letterboxd reviewers)

since the extinction
of the Hollywood writer,
audiences
have had to
become both the
Rob Reiner
and
Rob Pattinson
of their own stories

one time,
I found myself plopped
into a setting called
Sunset Boulevard
(‘twas post-sunset when I got there)
I was tasked with protecting
a film executive’s daughter;
then got tangled up
in a conspiracy
linked to the rise of
what scholars call
The Machine that Ate the Industry

the film executive’s daughter,
her name was Holly Wood

she was fully breathless
before her cold body
collided with the sunkissed
pavement of the Hills
she once presided over

the machine that ate the industry
ate Ms Wood for dessert
(by the end of Act II)
started with her tell-tale heart
(and didn’t even say Kali Ma)

all the intermediaries
were edited out too

(like Thanos)
the machine simply snapped

and traditional filmmaking became obsolete

the cinema of the future
wiped the slate clean,
an extension of humanity’s
desire
to externalize the
contents of one’s own mind

time to let go
if you haven’t already

don’t worry

your sense of self,
your memories,
your awareness,
will all return
once the credits roll

(if not, you can bring your ticket stub to the Box Office and we will happily refund you the full price of admission and include a popcorn voucher for your next visit)

enjoy the show!

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