Reference : A design for living: metaleptic devices and trends of gnostic imagination in contempo...
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A design for living: metaleptic devices and trends of gnostic imagination in contemporary science-fiction
Claisse, Frédéric mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Gouvernance et société >]
Biennial Conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) 2012
17-20 Octobre 2012
European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
[en] Sociology of fiction ; Science fiction studies ; Contemporary gnosticism ; Gnosticism in politics ; Narratology ; Metalepse
[en] As a narrative pattern and a cultural motif, the confusion between fictional worlds and reality traditionally leads to metaphysical arguments about liberty and destiny. Despite their drawing heavily on scientific imagination and technoscientific artefacts, science fiction movies exploring that theme never really broke with the way it has been treated since Calderon de la Barca’s Life is a dream: the hero’s quest leads him to doubt his own identity and dispute the ontological status of the world he lives in, leaving him and the viewer perplexed as to the ultimate nature of things. Yet, in the last fifteen years, an increasing number of science-fiction movies renewed that interrogation, notably by placing the issue of design at the centre of the plot: fictional worlds are not only denounced as fictional, but also shown as works in progress, literally rebuilt according to the plan of not-so-hidden designers acting as demiurges. In Dark City, Vanilla Sky or, more recently, Inception and The Adjustment Bureau, the emphasis on design and architecture together with the use of computational metaphors result in the promotion of one particular world to the status of “reference” universe, to be held as more “real” than other, fabricated and computed worlds made accessible by sophisticated devices operating as metaleptic instruments (such as Neo’s cable plug or the “bio-ports” in ExistenZ). This paper wishes to explore this shift towards “gnostic", Matrix-like science-fictional narratives, particularly in relation to the dramatic development of networking and surveillance capabilities that occurred during the same period.
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