Why Nathan Drinks
Fever Induced Musing on Ex Machina
What is Nathan hoping to find at the bottom of each bottle? Is he hoping to find anything?
My Theory on Why Nathan Drinks:
Nathan has been congratulated by Caleb as having created the most important invention in the ‘history of Gods’. A.I. Nathan is the father of Ava. His brainchild. And it is with the intimate knowledge only a parent can usually usurp, Nathan becomes intimately aware with a startling fact. A fact so profound, so soul crushing, that drinking may be one of the many ways in which he comes to cope with such a fact.
It’s established upon Caleb’s arrival, that Nathan has a ‘routine’ to combat his hangovers. Is this some great mind who needs escape from his complex web of signaled thought? I’m going to argue no. Instead, I will argue that Nathan is using drinking to commemorate and reflect on the passing of humanity.
I once theorized that one of the last domains to be overtaken by A.I. would be philosophy, simply due to the nature in which it is conducted. After a little more reflection, we can see that after simple language and logical systems were developed, any sort of dissection of philosophical text should be eminently simple, so long at the architecture intact is such which allows for the generation, emulation, or simulation of human cognition.
As I currently study philosophy, it came first to my head. But then I thought of all the other domains which us humans hold close and to be our own: Art, Being with and of Nature, Engineering, Literature, Philosophy, Science, War, etc…
Even today, we can see the slow creep. Slowly and surely, A.I. and it’s products have been gaining momentum. In the film, Nathan realized this momentum, and understands that it is too late to apply the brakes. Why did the brakes need applying? Well, maybe they didn’t, but the result of not applying them left all of humanity tied to the tracks. A true trolley car dilemma.
So, Nathan drinks. Nathan drinks because drinking is human. Getting drunk is human. Getting so drunk to the point of hangover, human. Nathan’s house is virtually being swallowed by nature, signalling that his home literally is of nature. But his home isn’t just of nature, it is architecturally beautiful. Beauty, another realm humans believe or attribute widely to our humanity. The idea of beauty pairs well with art, which Nathan believes pairs well with a pack of buds. Nathan is in his lounge, getting drunk, staring up at his Jackson Pollock. When Caleb comes in to use the phone, Nathan replies ‘Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters.’ Nathan jokes, humans joke. Nathan is frustrated with Caleb for not caring about his stupid pop-culture reference, humans care about stupid pop-culture references.
Nathan dances, because dancing was once human. But as we see so beautifully illustrated in what some claim to be the most bizarre scene, Nathan and Kyoko both dance exactly the same. And with this simple image, dancing and everything else fades from being uniquely human.
Nathan drinks to remember who he is, what he is, who we are, and what we all are about to lose…our humanity.
At the very beginning of the film Caleb is excited to understand how Ava’s language system works, a truly revolutionary breakthrough. Nathan quiets Caleb’s enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge, and says he’d rather have a ‘conversation’ than a ‘seminar’. For Nathan knows, seminars are now obsolete in the dawn of A.I., and all there is left to do is stare off into the sunset and have one last conversation with his fellow man.