As I continue to grow older and gain new responsibilities, I find myself longing for the freedom of childlike ignorance. The simplicity of viewing the world through a single, narrow lens removes the burden of understanding our insignificance within the universe. It allows us to dream, to immerse ourselves in the possibilities of what the world could be.
For me, Love, Death, and Robots’ tenth episode, “Zima Blue,” with its breathtaking visuals and its striking, elongated characters, penetrated deep into my consciousness. It sparked a reflection on my past. The episode left me with a feeling of emptiness, as I was reminded that our lives slip away as fast as it takes us to finally find our footing.
During his journey, Zima finds the universe itself is art, which cannot be effectively portrayed by Zima’s work.
Zima, “Zima Blue’s” main character, is an AI who slowly grew from a simple pool-tile cleaner robot into a successful artist who travels the universe to illustrate its fundamental truth and beauty through art. During his journey, Zima finds the universe itself is art, which cannot be effectively portrayed by Zima’s work.
The universe exceeds anything Zima could possibly create, and through realizing that, Zima finds meaning in the simplicity of his robotic youth, where to him the universe was nothing but small blue—Zima Blue—pool tiles for him to clean. Thus as Zima says to the first journalist who interviews him in over a century, “[M]y search for truth has led me here to what will be my final piece.”
In this “piece,” Zima devolves from his highly complex AI body into the simple robot who used to clean the blue tiles of a young engineer’s pool.
There’s beauty in the universe’s complexity that we can only marvel at. This beauty is depicted through Robert Valley’s direction and animation in addition to Philip Gelatt and Tim Miller’s adaptation of Alistair Reynolds’ short story.
We may never finish a theory of everything—so why keep trying, instead of enjoying the simplicity of our daily lives?
We may never finish a theory of everything—so why keep trying, instead of enjoying the simplicity of our daily lives? It’s almost ironic: in a quest to discover the meaning hidden underneath the fabric of our universe, Zima finds nothing but the meaning in how we look at it. There is a level of beauty in rigid simplicity, which we commonly overlook in our quest to grow.
The story of Zima is not just a story of AI—it’s a story of humans. As we’ve progressed into the information age, we humans haven’t changed. We still find joy in the simple moments of daily life.
Even while trapped in a dark cave of hardships, or nestled in a thorny bush of pain, it’s our job to enjoy our life, because the universe couldn’t care less if we do.
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