Technoculture and science fictions : exploring the web of narrative and figuration. (1999)
AuthorsPennell, Kateshow all
This thesis explores the function and politics of various narratives of technoculture. In particular, the focus is on how these narratives help articulate and sustain various figurations of technologically-implicated identity. The most important of these is Man; a hybrid figure made up of the legacy of the modernist project, the Enlightenment, and evolutionary narratives, and who has an interest in sustaining his dominion over the Other. This work traces the recuperation of these conservative narratives in the technocultural realm, a realm characterised by both desires and fears towards machines. While logocentrism describes the philosophical guarantee on which many of these narratives and figurations rely, this logocentrist system is challenged by new technological artefacts and practices. This causes the feminist historian of science Donna Haraway to suggest hopefully: 'Perhaps we can learn from the fusions with animals and machines how not to be Man, the embodiment of western logos'.1 Like the trope of the cyborg, science fiction is a boundary-crossing genre with its intermingling of traditionally distinct generic categories: science and fiction. It provides, in this way, a particularly rich source of anxious and desiring narratives about technologically-mediated change which I will use as my primary lens into this technocultural realm. Most of the texts I examine do not provide rich new cyborg figurations, or ones which have learnt to be other than Man. On the contrary, they are good at recuperating conservative metanarratives about humanist individuality, agency, the relationship to Otherness, the relationship of the mind to the body, to name just a few. Many technocultural texts such as Gattaca, Metropolis and Blade Runner problematise technologically-mediated change as a movement toward disorder, before resolving this crisis in a corresponding movement towards order in the services of recuperating logocentric taxonomies.