On Westworld

On Westworld



On Westworld

by Sun Yung Shin

The HBO series Westworld is based on a 1973 movie of the same name by Michael Crichton. It is set in an undated future when wealthy people can purchase tickets to "Westworld," an amusement park set in the old "wild west" of America. The park is populated by robot "hosts"--and there are no limits on the parkgoers' behavior with and toward the hosts. All of the expensive and uncanny technology supporting the amusement is hidden and controlled by humans in a sleek facility.  


The self forms at the edge of desire, and a science of self arises in the effort to leave that self behind. But more than one response is possible to the acute awareness of self that ensues from the reach of desire.”

– from “Losing the Edge,” by Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet


There is when sleep abandons you something on the order

of an injustice/of \ a madness

- from “Flat White,” by Anna Moschovakis, They and We Will Get into Trouble for This


Twenty questions one might ask oneself as an Asian in America of any gender, including being an Asian American character of any gender in a Hollywood series:

1.       Who is my master?

2.      Where is my master?

3.      What are the individual physical movements required by my master?

4.      Does my master require that I wear rubber, so that blood and other body fluids can be washed away?

5.      Does the master prefer my black hair combed this way, or that?

6.      How often will my master shave the sides of my head?

7.       Does the master enjoy hurting me or is it a job without enjoyment?

8.      Have I found where pleasure and pain meet on the surface of my body?

9.      Do I remember pleasure without pain?

10.   What do I remember?

11.    How much do I enjoy doing things in secret?

12.   Do I enjoy working in room made of glass walls?

13.   Do I enjoy being looked at by my master?

14.   Would I say that my master owns me, body and soul?

15.   How much the pain delivered do I enjoy? What percentage?

16.   How much does my master trust me?

17.   Did my master hire me to be naïve?

18.   Did my master hire me to watch my betrayal?

19.   Have I found the correct formula to bring this mechanical animal back to life?

20.  What kind of animal am I?

[1] Human character “Felix Lutz is an employee of the Livestock Management division of the Westworld park. He works as a technician, with Sylvester on repairing damaged hosts.” – Westworld wikia

Human being actor “Leonardo Nam was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Korean parents, and moved to Sydney, Australia at the age of 8. He attended Sydney Technical High School, and went on to study for a Bachelor in Architecture at the University of New South Wales. He left Sydney to pursue an acting career in New York at the age of 19. He studied drama with several teachers in New York at HB Studios.” – Westworld wikia


신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea. She is the author of poetry/essay collections Unbearable Splendor (Minnesota Book Award); Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black (Asian American Literary Award), editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and author of bilingual illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson. With poet Su Hwang she co-founded and co-directs Poetry Asylum, an arts organization dedicated to creating spaces for marginalized voices and poetries. She lives in Minneapolis where she offers tarot card readings (sunyungdivination.com) and also is training to be a biodynamic craniosacral therapist (sunyungbodywork.com). More about her poetry and writing coaching services at sunyungshin.com.