Odd Objects and Slime Dynamics

29May09

Here I hope to take up ‘Continental Science fiction as a research program following Graham Harman (Collapse IV, p. 332-333).

The errant signals, distress calls, and anomalous readings of science fiction lead to the Cthuluoid ethical dilemma of an encounter with the weird. One codification of the weird is in the trope of the found text which redoubles the shocking foundness of the weird. The temporally weird as mythic and ancient or the futuristic penetrating the past (Stargate, Alien Egyptians) along with the spatially weird (distant planet, dimensional rift, wormholes etc). The fabric (or assumed absolutes of time and space) come into question (again this is the aforementioned foundness of the text and whether its provenance is in question) and the text as a text echoes the torsion (time itself in time – the tangible movement of time as synchronic time).

To return to the science fictive the torsion as gapped between the microbial and the massively mechanical – life warping and reality warping with the phenomenal caught in between. Here we can take the bacterial archaeology (p. 237 of Cyclonopedia) the Earth as Holey complex and the unnatural holing of the earth through excavation. The science fictive brings together the deadly microbial (X-files episodes ‘Ice” and “Firewalker”) and the colossal machine – the various planet killers (Star Trek’s Doomsday Machine, Nero’s mining ship as well as Star Wars Death Stars).

Dead Space brings together these two strands within the survival horror genre where a giant object is discovered prior to cracking the planet and releasing a virus that animates the dead (a wonderful illustration of dark vitalism if there every was one). This torsion (between incredibly small and incredibly large) is the image of modernity thereby splintering the torsion of the weird.

The xeno-archaeological or exo-archaeological assists in wasting or withering the anthrpocentricity of worlds (against Kant and Badiou) in a twofold sense – the foundness of the big dumb object (the Clarke-Kubrick Monolith, Doom 3‘s soul cube, Dead Space‘s Marker) shows non-human intelligence/being as well as the possible end of civilization.  One can immediately think of Nick Bostrom’s contribution to Collapse V – the anxiety of whether the barrier to life is early on in life’s development or much later.

Furthermore the work of artifacts revives the mythical/demonological where Hell becomes another spatial dimension (as in Doom 3, Event Horizon etc). The alien artifact withers anthrocentricity via the objective quality of the object ( such as in the opening pages of Zizek’s Parallax View). In the weird story the artifact is hyperbolic in its object status yet is also over present (withdrawn and too close). The alien artifact is withdrawn from a concept of world.

The insanity of the object is its over presence/dumbness contrasted with its temporal and spatial and metaphysical withdrawnness – this is the object stretched between the stupidity of our phenomenal experience and the complexity of our cosmological cascade (of past and ongoing processes). The artifact then marks the spatio-temporal fragility of any given or possible world.

The necromorphs of Deadspace participate in a bio-complexification of the succession of worlds in that instead of the body returning to what we perceive as inert organicity – the body remains within the force of decay joined by an unnatural (untimely and viral) death. This is how space and time invade life as such. Weisman’s negative comment that vitalism without teleology is a confusion of crude forces should be taken as a positive statement instead (p. 6 of Germinal Life).

Next…journey to the wormed earth

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