May 24, 2000
I got a couple of germane ideas during my reading today; well, at least they are interesting and seem germane. Haraway, in her “Situated Knowledges,” discusses the possibility of a feminist objectivity comprised of a “mobile positioning” and a “pasionate detachment” (192). The former seems to relate to Braidotti’s nomadism, while the latter Haraway associates with an embodied vision; i.e., a revision of a visual metaphor that is not essential and universal, but local and contigent. This idea privileges “seeing” over “being” — a state that necessarily implicates one in an engaged role.
On reading Sterling’s preface to Gibson's Burning Chrome, the notion of science fiction as a genre struck me as having a mobile positioning and a passionate detachment. It also struck me that sf is itself a media in that it mediates between one's self and the world (in this sense everything is media — I have to nuance this definition somehow). Sterling writes that the cyberpunk writers revitalized the congealed sf of the seventies by contributing a voice of its own. I would add that a local, earth-bound voice seems to replace the galaxy traveller: the small network of cyberpunks living day-to-day becomes more important than the star trekking white man in search of the universal answers. Sf of the eighties (of course this is a generalization, and I’ll have to be more specific) comments on its time (and even more now, too) and displays a world of the near future, not one light-years away. This positioning might have to do with the waning interest in the space program in the eighties, culminating in the Challenger disaster — NASA’s historical low point. The new worlds are in the network, and their citizens live right next door.
Sterling also attributes the concept of "invisible literature" to Ballard. He defines it as the “permeating flow of scientific reports, government documents, and specialized advertising that shapes our culture” (Chrome xii). This idea, I think, should be investigated in the introduction of my diss; it seems to apply to all of the chapters. Perhaps, and I'm brainstorming right now, this concept is the mythology of our time? It relates to technology — especially the technology that interacts with the body in our products (like from Crash) — to the X-Files effect and the science-fictionalization of culture, and the dead media that allows us to go into places designed to keep out the bleeding edge and allows us a haven into which the new media cannot venture.