By Despina Kakoudaki
By interpreting a variety of literary texts and flicks (including episodes from Twilight Zone, the fiction of Philip ok. Dick, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never permit Me move, city, The Golem, Frankenstein, The Terminator, Iron guy, Blade Runner, and that i, Robot), and going again to alchemy and to Aristotle’s Physics and De Anima, she tracks 4 foundational narrative components during this centuries-old discourse— the fable of the synthetic beginning, the delusion of the mechanical physique, the tendency to symbolize man made humans as slaves, and the translation of artificiality as an existential trope. What unifies those investigations is the go back of all 4 parts to the query of what constitutes the human.
This centred method of the subject of the substitute, built, or mechanical individual permits us to re-evaluate the construction of man-made life. through targeting their historic provenance and textual versatility, Kakoudaki elucidates synthetic people’s major cultural functionality, that is the political and existential negotiation of what it ability to be a person.
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Extra info for Anatomy of a robot : literature, cinema, and the cultural work of artificial people
We need a different agenda. We need to exit the realm of the scale of imitation and consider it as an epistemological model whose power is fast diminishing. The conceptual travel kit we need in this transhistorical exploration contains a number of warnings and suggestions. Consider the importance of motion in premodern descriptions of aliveness. Consider the structuring presence of objects without necessarily resorting to readings of gothic and uncanny effects. Consider the possibility that the Romantic/gothic model is currently under much needed revision, partly inspired by the return of pre-nineteenth-century interests in materiality, presence, complexity, texture, and allegory.
Were they self-moving automata too? Statues, mechanical experiments, political allegories, and philosophical jokes are fused into an account of the ever-present desire to create artificial humanity or the ever-present desire to create modern automated tools. Scholars seek to complicate these popular tendencies. 18 Yet despite such critical interventions, the relationship of past to present fantasies remains open to anachronistic modern assumptions. In addition to the realist trends of cyborg and posthuman discourse mentioned above, the historical mapping of artificial people is affected by another important feature of the contemporary critical landscape.
Scientific and pseudo-scientific publications, ancient texts on occult magic, and aesthetic treatises on the ability of statues to express emotion in stillness all include elements of the discourse. How do we distinguish between an anachronistic impulse to fold such examples into a single historical narrative and the need to recognize relationships across time? If the distribution and proliferation of figures and contexts is the first problem of a historical account, the second is the self-obviousness of the enterprise.
Anatomy of a robot : literature, cinema, and the cultural work of artificial people by Despina Kakoudaki