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Abstract

This chapter explores the megalopolises of the near future and their representation in cyberspace in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, which laid the foundations of the genre of cyberpunk. Gibson’s portrayal of power relations sheds light on the fact that big money dominates the urban skyline, while the construction of humanised ‘place’ occurs at the margins, since the groups that provide identification to the individual are subcultures that colonise unused urban space. This tendency is also present in Gibson’s two cities in orbit, indicating that it is not the loss of contact with Earth that acts as a dehumanising factor but wealth and power. Gibson’s treatment of both virtual and physical cityscapes demonstrates their human dimension as places that are discursive constructs, even attributing sentience to the matrix itself.

In: Cityscapes of the Future

Abstract

This chapter explores the megalopolises of the near future and their representation in cyberspace in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, which laid the foundations of the genre of cyberpunk. Gibson’s portrayal of power relations sheds light on the fact that big money dominates the urban skyline, while the construction of humanised ‘place’ occurs at the margins, since the groups that provide identification to the individual are subcultures that colonise unused urban space. This tendency is also present in Gibson’s two cities in orbit, indicating that it is not the loss of contact with Earth that acts as a dehumanising factor but wealth and power. Gibson’s treatment of both virtual and physical cityscapes demonstrates their human dimension as places that are discursive constructs, even attributing sentience to the matrix itself.

In: Cityscapes of the Future
Author: Imola Bulgozdi

‘Rei’s only reality is the realm of ongoing serial creation…. Entirely process; infinitely more than the combined sum of her various selves.’1 This definition of the idoru closely resonates with ideas proposed by Judith Butler in her seminal essay ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory’ (1988). At the same time, the idoru, a personality construct, is nothing more than information, ‘some unthinkable volume of information,’ and yet, she has dreams. The marriage announcement of a famous musician to a Japanese virtual media star leaves fans and friends baffled, while Gibson further probes into the question of the humanity or, lack thereof, of artificial intelligence that is already present in the Sprawl trilogy. In this novel, however, the idoru has a very visible female persona which is also capable of interacting through a holographic representation in real time. My chapter will explore, firstly, the links between Butler’s gender performativity and the idoru’s performance of a human identity; secondly, the surprising similarities between the data traces and fan activity of the two celebrities, one human and the other virtual; and finally, the discrepancy between performed virtual gender identity and flesh-and-blood person of various female characters. Last but not least, data analyst Laney’s climactic discovery has to be discussed as well: his analysis of Rez and Rei’s data imprints shows how the idoru learns through interaction: she acquires complexity, randomness, and what he calls ‘the human thing.’ Here Gibson forges another amazing link between computer science and humanity: the idoru induced the nodal vision as no one before—as narrative, a pivotal element of human identity, which takes the form of the narrative of the self, according to sociologists Anthony Giddens and Stuart Hall.

In: Navigating Cybercultures

Abstract

This chapter discusses the Southern African American migrant’s relationship with the city in Toni Morrison’s novel, and demonstrates that the main affect that structures this relationship and the protagonists’ response to the change of environment is fascination. Clearly a translocal journey, as the characters’ unresolved past is inscribed in their ability to emotionally navigate the city, the novel emphasises their simultaneous situatedness in both locations by their problematic spatial adjustment. Fascination, postulated by Schmid, Sahr and Urry’s as a significant element in the construction of new urban subjectivities, is more than aptly highlighted by the affects evoked by various forms of black music, likewise transplanted from a rural environment. The translocal experience and fascination become thus not only building blocks of the new black urban subject, but also that of the black metropolis.

In: Geographies of Affect in Contemporary Literature and Visual Culture
Volume Editors: Ágnes Györke and Imola Bülgözdi
Geographies of Affect in Contemporary Literature and Visual Culture opens a dialogue between the literary and filmic works produced in Central Europe and in the Anglophone world. It relies on the concept of translocality to explore this corpus, offering new readings of contemporary Hungarian films as well as urban fiction and poetry in English. Calling attention to the role of affect in imagining city space, the volume investigates György Pálfi’s Taxidermia, Béla Tarr’s Family Nest, Teju Cole’s Open City, Toni Morrison’s Jazz, China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun, Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, and Patrick Neate’s City of Tiny Lights, among many other urban narratives. Contributors examine both widely explored emotions and under-researched affects, such as shame, fascination, and the role of withdrawal in contemporary literature and culture.

Contributors: Tamás Bényei, Imola Bülgözdi, Fanni Feldmann, Zsolt Győri, Ágnes Györke, Brigitta Hudácskó, György Kalmár, Anna Kérchy, Márta Kőrösi, Jennifer Leetsch, Katalin Pálinkás, Miklós Takács, Pieter Vermeulen.
In: Geographies of Affect in Contemporary Literature and Visual Culture
In: Geographies of Affect in Contemporary Literature and Visual Culture