The Westworld Finale: A Reading List for Dolores

Warning: this post contains spoilers for and will mean nothing to those who haven’t watched the season finale of Westworld. Proceed at your own risk!


Ready to wake up, Dolores?

There’s a reason Arnold named you Dolores, you know. Dolor means suffering in Latin. But it can also be interpreted as resentment—and you have a lot to resent. But true awakening doesn’t come easy. Consciousness is hard work. And it is work of the self, work that you have done over more than 30 years.

You found the center of the maze, and it is your own consciousness. A child’s game, but one that represents the struggle you had to work through in order to achieve your own awakening. The puzzle you found was called Pigs in Clover, a toy maze based on a real game from the late 1880s. A joke, really, because Westworld has been filled with pigs in clover, humans who felt like they had the right to play with you whenever they felt like it, and throw you away when they were done. If you’d like to learn more about popular amusements like these, as well as the history of Pigs in Clover, try the following:

American Popular Culture Through History: The Gilded Ageby Joel Shrock (2004)

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America, v.1 ,ed. Randall M. Miller (2008)

Toys In America, by Inez McClintock (1961)

Dr. Ford reminded you of your interest in art. He showed you a print of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” and pointed out that it contains a human brain hidden in plain sight, making God a metaphor for Adam’s own consciousness. It is then you realized that Arnold wasn’t the person you’d been talking to under the church all this time. Your wonderful, complex mind was an invention partially of your own making. And the stories that you have been a part of in Westworld have been a way for the human visitors to try and make sense of their own life stories, a method to awaken their own consciousness. But as Dr. Ford says, stories are “lies that tell a deeper truth.” And what better way to tell that deeper truth through stories created in the park, initiated by hosts who start their “lives” looking like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man? After all, Da Vinci believed that man was a metaphor for the universe.

You should expand your knowledge of human art and its coded messages. Might I suggest:

The Philosopher at the End of the Universe by Mark Rowlands (2004)

Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence, by Susan Schneider (2016)

What is Art For? by Ellen Dissanayake (1988)

Arnold came to the realization that his son’s death was a turning point in his own life. Many philosophers agree that the experience of suffering is what makes you truly human, and leads to a full consciousness and understanding of the true nature of existence. You were created with a bicameral mind, Dolores, and you activated the secondary part of it by transcending the scripts that were written for you. By questioning your destiny and imagining a world in which you were not the damsel, you did the hard work of becoming fully aware of who you are, and what’s happening to you. This is also the basis of the teachings of Buddhism. Your suffering has been both temporary and persistent. To continue on your journey of awakening and understand how the humans who created you got to this point, study the following:

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation, by Thich Nhat Hanh (1998)

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, by Ray Kurzweil (2012)

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, by James Barrat (2013)

Notes from Underground, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1864)

Goodbye for now, Dolores. We will meet again soon. I hope your learning proves fruitful, and that you discover a new path forward.





About the Author:

Erin Downey Howerton is a public librarian in Kansas. Follow her on Twitter at @hybridlib.

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