#85 = Volume 28, Part 3 = November 2001
Elena Del Rio
The Remaking of La Jetée’s
Time-Travel Narrative: Twelve Monkeys and the Rhetoric of Absolute
Abstract. -- Through a comparative analysis of
the mise-en-scène of time travel in La Jetée and Twelve Monkeys,
this article explores the differences between Hollywood cinema’s reliance on
full visibility and presence—a rhetoric of space and light—and the film’s
use of a wider sensorial spectrum that destabilizes the metaphysical equation of
represen-tation with vision while putting forth a rhetoric of time and darkness.
Using Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics and Foucault’s theory of
panopticism, the article argues that Twelve Monkeys reproduces the
metaphorics of vision and power at work in the ontotheological tradition of
Western representation. Twelve Monkeys’ rationalizing discourse
transforms the anxiety of being in time into a game of illusionist realism.
Second, the film substitutes technological instrumentality for the inherently
transporting capacities of the psyche. And third, while potentially dislocating,
the film’s time travel narrative ends up coercing temporality (and death) into
a manageable, stable, and redeemable picture.
The Far Side of Moon Zero Two
Abstract. -- Moon Zero Two, made by Hammer Films in 1969, was
British cinema’s last space opera. A modest and rather camp production aimed
at juvenile audiences, the film has the rare distinction of being a "space
western," which updates the iconography of the classic American Western to
the setting of a colonized Moon. This article considers three key aspects of the
film: its use of Western motifs to underline the ideological continuity of the
Old West and the New Frontier; its symptomatic interest as an example of British
sf’s continuing failure to match the ambition of American sf films; and its
unexpectedly close thematic relationship to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space
Odyssey (1968). Both films explore the boredom of space travel, the end of
the space age, and colonization as an expression of restless male desire. The
article concludes with a discussion of how British sf films of the 1960s
reflected Britain’s withdrawal from the space race.
"Tell Us All About Little Rosebery":
Topicality and Temporality in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine
Abstract. -- The essay seeks to demonstrate that the events described in H.G.
Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) are deliberately and rigorously
historicized by being placed in a specific temporal relation to a moment in
history that corresponds very closely to the date of the short novel’s
composition. It also claims that The Time Machine’s unusual narrative
structure may be accounted for by the novel’s hitherto largely unacknowledged
topicality. Moreover, it will be suggested that its topicality has perhaps
paradoxically helped to endow The Time Machine with the formal and
thematic durability of the classic.
Peter G. Stillman
Dystopian Visions and Utopian Anticipations: Terry
Bisson’s Pirates of the Universe as Critical Dystopia
Abstract. -- This article examines the interplay of dystopian and
utopian themes in Terry Bisson’s Pirates of the Universe, utilizing Tom
Moylan’s concept of "critical dystopia." In the novel, Bisson maps
out a number of discontinuous dystopias in a near-future US marked by rampant
capitalist enterprise, out-of-control bio-technology, ecological decay, and a
weak central state. These dystopias generally produce citizens with fragmented
personal experiences, disinterest in social issues, and limited aspirations.
Towards the end of the novel, when free and clean energy becomes available to
all, Bisson explores continuing dystopian trends, articulates utopian
possibilities, and emphasizes the importance of individual and collective
imagination for choosing among alternatives.
Interpellation in Gwyneth Jones’s Aleutian Trilogy
Abstract. – The alien in sf is a trope that allows for a complex
exploration of the construction of human identity and the role that otherness
plays in this construction. Gwyneth Jones’s Aleutian novels explore the idea
of humanness through her characterization of the Aleutian aliens. Jones’s
aliens engage in a cultural practice of finding oneself in cultural records,
which I argue can be understood as a literalization of Althusserian
interpellation. In the novels, Jones plays with the double meaning of identity
as both that which uniquely identifies and that with marks sameness to explore
and ultimately to deconstruct the boundary between human and alien subjectivity.
In conclusion, I suggest that the novels also perform their own call for a new
type of human subjectivity, a subjectivity articulated against that of the
liberal humanist self-contained and autonomous individual. This new
subjectivity, one that is more like than unlike the aliens, is founded on
connections to other living beings rather than on the need to defend a boundary
of self from other.
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