Space doubt

Master thesis English OPEN
Rega, Joseph Mark (2003)
  • Publisher: Florianópolis, SC
  • Subject: Literatura | Ficcao cientifica | Inovações tecnológicas | Filmes de ficcao cientifica

Dissertação (mestrado) - Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Centro de Comunicação e Expressão. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Inglês e Literatura Correspondente. The recent surge in cyberspace science fiction follows previous trends within the genre, i.e. those connected with future city-space and outer space, and is an inevitable result of economic forces. There has always been a close relationship between capitalism and spatial expansion, compelled by technological innovations that have opened spaces to exploration and exploitation. The most obvious examples are the locomotive and the automobile, both of which involved spatial domination and were impelled by capitalism. The diachronic progression of those technological advances has its counterpart in the development of capitalism itself, as pointed out by Frederic Jameson who, following Ernst Mandel, identifies three stages of capitalism with their corresponding cultural logics. Multinational capitalism, the current stage, has as its technological innovation the electronics and computer industries, which are markedly different from previous stages principally because the space involved, cyberspace, is intrinsic to the products themselves. Jameson asserts further that the cultural logic of this current stage is postmodernism and that any cultural output today takes place within the context of multinational capitalism. Previous technological innovations and their respective spatial dominants have also led to ontological uncertainties, a fact borne out by examining the corpus films that make up the bulk of this study. In the nearly 75 years that separate Metropolis from The Matrix, we have seen a succession of ontological shifts between humans and their technological offspring which indicate both persistent doubts about the role of technology and its possible encroachments on our own autonomy. This last is a further differentiation between the modernist perspective of technology as exemplified by Metropolis and postmodern attitudes revealed by The Matrix. If a shift within the science fiction genre is occurring, with cyberspace based fiction supplanting previous spaces, then the same capitalist forces that were at work in previous spatial dominants must be functioning as well. A fact brought out by the current research is the inevitable connection between capitalist forces and spatial exploration, augmented by the role of multinational corporations in the cultural output of today. While there have been numerous critical inquiries into the differences between modernism and postmodernism there has been little said about the progression of spaces between them. The current research is focused principally on space but an inevitable conclusion is that space cannot be separated from either technological advances or ontological uncertainties, whether in society in general or in the cultural output of a particular historical period.
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