by Janine Braune
While reading Ghost Species, one character in particular caught my eye, Davis. Let me give you a short introduction, to who Davis is. Davis Hucken is a white male in his thirties with a slim figure and blond hair. He is a tech billionaire and the founder of Gather, a social media network. Davis likes to dress in jeans with band t-shirts or hoodies. So contrary to the typical image of a wealthy businessman, he likes to be comfortable. His parents are both psychiatrists.
I wish to analyze if he really is just a wealthy man with a scientific vision and a god complex, or if there is more to him. Therefore firstly, I need to identify how his god complex is expressed.
Davis plans to re-engineer the world’s relationship with nature, and he states to achieve this, we need to let go of the idea that we’re distinct, separate, and unique. He plans to de-extinct other species, while always stating that his mission is only to make the world a better place. He tries to justify his actions as if they are for the benefit of everyone. At the same time, he states that all humankind isn’t distinct from each other, but he declares himself a savior. It is clear that he sees himself as the messiah of the world, and only his vision can be the only solution.
His behavior from the perspective of other characters is often described as odd and as a mode of performing. Kate frequently explains that while talking to him, she feels like she is watching some sort of rehearsed performance. According to Kate, there is some awkwardness, as his reactions are not natural but somehow acquired. Davis seems like a different kind of being. On the one hand, his earlier statements show that he is trying to play God, but on the other hand, we could argue that Davis is only trying to portray the image of God. And he isn’t necessarily convinced of his own divinity. Davis is highly intelligent and totally understands which customs and conducts are expected from him. By making use of this knowledge, he tries to manipulate and control his external perception. However, as his behaviors aren’t always unforced, outsiders may perceive his behavior as odd or weird. Those cracks can be seen on many occasions. For instance, while holding a speech in the spotlight, Kate describes him as weirdly uncomfortable looking, like an animal caught in a trap. This is interesting because shouldn’t people with a god complex enjoy getting all the attention they can? We can see that maybe his true self doesn’t align with the image he is trying to portray. I wonder if in this particular instance he failed to uphold his mask because he isn’t receiving instant feedback from the faces of the audience? From personal experience, I know how hard it is to recognize anything while a bright light is shining on you. If we now speculate that Davis learned his social cues in conversation with people and always matched his performances based on their reactions, then in this situation the foundations for his manipulation would be missing.
Another interesting situation is his interaction with Eve as a newborn. Eve is the product of his vision and goals, the product of all the things he stands for, and yet he cannot hold or touch her. The question to ask is why? Is the reason that he simply is unbothered by ordinary human desires too long after closeness? Or could the reason be that in front of the child, he just cannot put on his mask, and his insecurities surface? One interpretation is that because of his intelligence, he may have considered the possibility of forming an emotional connection with Eve through physical touch and wanted to avoid risking forming a connection. When we consider all his actions in the novel, we may think this thesis is very unlikely, but if we regard all these actions simply as his mask, it would be possible.
The conclusion I came to is that Davis knows exactly how to act in social settings and to say the right things people want to hear. He clearly has a god complex, but there is an inconsistency between his image and his true self. Even if his public persona is totally fake, the fact that he believes he is capable of fooling the whole world testifies to his complex.