Cylon Culture

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For information on the Original Series Cylons, see Cylons (TOS).
For the sake of convenience, the term "Cylon", when not the Cylon race as a whole, generally refers to the humanoid Cylons for the purpose of this article.
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The Cylon culture is informed by several interacting factors. Chiefly among these are religion, history, their mechanical and cybernetic origins, their socio-political and metaphysical ideologies; and interestingly, Cylon culture incorporates certain aspects of Colonial culture, history, and religion.

Religion

Main article: Cylon Religion

The Significant Seven, with the exception of Number One, display mostly high degrees of religiosity, though their interpretations of the monotheistic Cylon religion follow individualized patterns: for example, Number Six's faith appears to based on revelation, while other Cylons may tend more toward intellectualism (Number Four) or militant extremism (Number Three, Number Five). Number One appears to have an atheistic outlook. Number Two is the most mystical in terms of religious views. Sharon Agathon hinted at the historicity of the Lords of Kobol but called their divinity into question. She claimed that the Cylons know more about Colonial religion than the Colonials themselves (TRS: "Home, Part II").

Human influences

Cylon culture is also informed by their mechanical origins and biomechanical nature. Although the Cylons are capable of great resiliency, either by design or by choice they emulate specific human behavior related to their physiology: they eat, drink, sleep, dream, sweat and breathe, though it remains unknown if all or some of this behavior is actually necessary for the Cylons to function. Although Leoben, according to Caprica-Six, died after being sucked out of an airlock, this doesn't necessarily mean that breathing is a vital function for humanoid Cylons. Leoben might have committed suicide in order to resurrect at a Cylon facility (TRS: "Flesh and Bone").

In addition, there are behaviors unique to Cylons, such as projection, the ability to download, and the ability to physically interface with the datastream as well as with Colonial computer systems. These aspects are an integral part of their existence, but result strictly from their unique physiology. In most other instances they instead strive to emulate humans. This is explained by them being a relatively young society, which has yet to fully form itself and is still in the process of finding its own identity. Therefore, while the Cylons claim to hate mankind and its way of life, they can't fully disassociate themselves from it, creating a somewhat paradoxical culture.

Ideology

Like any ideology, Cylon ideology contains many paradoxical inclinations. The process by which a group of Cylons (for example, the leaders of the occupational force on New Caprica, or the individuals who collectively command basestars) make decisions is democratic and egalitarian. Consensus is always preferable to even a minority dissent. This egalitarianism seems to apply to the Cylons' social life, with some notable exceptions, most primarily the "heroes of the Cylon" - according to Three the Cylons never had celebrities until Boomer and Caprica-Six (TRS: "Downloaded") - and also by the force of personality (known in anthropological circles as charismatic authority) which certain individuals of different models seem to possess over the other copies in their series. This is displayed at one time or another by any individual Cylon.

Anthropologically, charismatic authority is consistent with an egalitarian ethos. However, the egalitarianism of the humanoid Cylons does not apply to the other types of Cylons at their disposal; not even to the sentient, but seemingly insane, hybrids, nor to the semi-sentient animalistic Raiders, and certainly not to the Centurions, which are not sentient. According to Sharon Agathon, the limited cognitive abilities of the newer Centurions are a safety precaution, designed to prevent a machine revolution among the Cylons themselves which could lead to civil war (TRS: "Precipice").

In the absence of the Final Five, the seven remaining modern humanoid Cylon models lead the entire Cylon species.

Technology and architecture

Although Cylon military technology is exotic and partially biological in nature, the Cylons also make use of technology likely of Cylon manufacture, but of more Colonial design. This includes weapons technology (projectile weapons, conventional and nuclear warheads, and cybernetic weapons) as well as medical technology, as seen in the "farms" of Caprica and in the hospital on New Caprica, which included Colonial-style computers and medical equipment, in stark contrast to the exotic interfaces seen aboard the baseships. This is logical, since the Cylons are of Colonial origin, and while their technology diverged from that in certain areas - mainly cybernetics and bio-technology - its basics are human.

Much, though not all, of Cylon architecture, including the conveyor tunnel on the tylium asteroid (TRS: "The Hand of God"), and the designs of their spacecraft seems to eschew right angles, much as Colonial aesthetics do. There are some exceptions, such as the prison on New Caprica, which like many Colonial buildings on Caprica retained many right angles. However, it should be noted, that these buildings were strictly functional and needed to be built with little resources, thus little attention could be paid to aesthetics. Cylon architecture favors sharp points, in contrast to the Colonial's rounded architecture. Cylon baseships, Raiders and Centurions all follow this, as they feature points and sharp edges.

The interior of the basestars is functional, yet aesthetic; human, yet alien. While relatively simple shapes dominate the geometry and surfaces together with water and light, the few visible pieces of furniture are clearly human in origin and more elaborate and luxurious than what one might expect from the Cylons. [1]

References

  1. According to the podcast for "Torn" this look was chosen to evoke one of the final scenes in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey