The dream of a cyberpunk future seminar presentation

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  • 1. The Dream of a CyberpunkFuture?PresentedbyZak, Nicola, Jenn & Tae

2. Introduction Cyberpunk is a genre which is distinguished by the technology focusand futuristic orientations, however it is set in the not to distantfuture, which makes it different to other branches of sci-fi. Neuromancer has been the case study for many works done on therelationship between cyberpunk and comedy, because it has been avehicle for social and self examination. This journal article is: An evaluation of William Gibsons Neuromancer looking specifically at the use of comedy within Neuromancer To suggest that comedy can be used to examine current humanand social relationships, and make changes to the futureThis is done through the application of Burkes theory ofcomic corrective. 3. The Comic Perspective, Entelechy,& Dialectical Tension The comedic perspective in Neuromancer, and comedy in generalallows us to look at ourselves and examine situations from a newangle. Comedy and Cyberpunk go hand in hand, as it allows a critical reflection of our relationships, society and the lifestyles that are lead. As written in the article:the comic perspective can allow individuals to recognize that the paththat they are following may lead to a devastating end, thus encouraging them to shake off their tragic tendencies and actively seek new alternatives(p. 326) The comedic perspective in Neuromancer is not about resigningoneself to a certain way of life, it is meant to allow for a newperspective and path to be taken by an individual or society. 4. Burkes Theory of Comedy Cyberpunk comedy allows the audience to gain an attitude wherethey can reflect on themselves whilst learning about the mistakesthey have made, or could make. Burke suggests: comedy in cyberpunk shouldnt just effect the individual. Hemaintained thatcomic frame of reference also opens up whole new field for socialcriticism (p. 326). the comedic corrective allows us to escape from the future we areheading into, by recognizing what is wrong and providing themotivation to change. there is something special about imagining a not to distant future through cyberpunkand by critiquing society in such a comedic way, it creates the desire for all humans to create a perfect future. This leads society to use the term perfect ironically 5. Conclusion of First section Neuromancer can be viewed as a cyberpunk comedy with an intendedcomedic message. The comedy is present to allow the audience tocritically reflect, not only on themselves, but on society as a whole. This will hopefully mean that in the future technology will be used fora better cause, and we might even be lucky enough to gain perfectionin the world! But that is only if we take the step back now and realise thatsomething needs to be done! 6. William Gibson & Neuromancer He created a lens for examining what heunderstoos as the increasingly importantrole that IT plays in the lives of humans. His aim as a writer is not so much toprovide specific predictions about thefuture but rather to find a rhetoricalcontext suitable to examine the role oftechnology in our society. He is not a high-tech guy excited about thepossibility of a technologically structuredfuture but is rather a cultural critic whohopes that his audience will criticallyexamine the world around them. 7. Neuromancer The first novel to win the science fictiontriple crown Because it was one of the first works of cyberpunk and breathed new life into science fiction. He predicted some IT developments inthis novel e.g. the emergence of cyberspace, globalcomputer networks, hackers It is important to examine the ways inwhich the dialectical tension within thisnovel since its fiction increasinglybecome our lived reality. 8. Enacting the Comic Frame in Neuromancer In Neuromancer, Gibson takes various items of the current societyand evolves them by stretching them casuistically to create hisfuture world which is not so far from the present day. It illustrates how the world might be if the present uncheckedfascination with information technology continues to flourishunabated the practice of technological enhancement. It is also used to examine the degree to which humans canbecome part of technology. E.g. In Gibsons future world The brain becomes not just a biological entity but also a central processing unit for a human Narcotics are both incredibly powerful and easily accessible Cities have rotting cores inhabited by mutants and technologically enhanced punks Weapons have been made more cruel and devastating Privacy must be purchased The computer constructed world of cyberspace is more real and vibrant than the human world 9. Enacting the Comic Frame The idea of a computer that can think for itself and devise anintricate plan for enhancing itself contradicts our understanding ofcomputers as tools that are used by humans. The idea of intelligence, or wisdom, is not a concept that tends to beassociated with circuits, files, and keyboards. This plannedincongruity reverses that The Dream of a Cyberpunk Future?assumption and makes humans the tools of the computer. The dialectical tension between the possibilities of powerfulcomputers and artificial intelligence may result in a criticalassessment and revaluation of the current trends towardincreasingly powerful computer networks. 10. Considering sub-cultures The subcultures of today, stretched to their logical end, areno longer satisfied with piercings, plastic surgery, or wildlycoloured hair but have moved on to more invasive andalarming aesthetic changes. These illustrations encourage the audience to think more critically about contemporary practices such as plastic surgery, tattooing, and other body modifications. 11. Dialectical Tension & Critical Self-Reflection Dialectical tension:tensions that occur when relationship goals conflict; relationshipdifferences that usually revolve around differences in the desiresfor connection and autonomy, predictability and novelty, andopenness and privacy Newromancer is an illustrative case where discursive space for socialcritiquw and a comic perspective are constructed through dialecticaltension. It encourages the audience to reflect on trends within society. 12. A critique of current society The cyberpunk genre is often set in the future of a futuristic settingwhich in contrast to the present prompts a critique of current society,technology and trends in culture. According to Burke (1973): individuals can gain a better understanding of their world through rhetorical constructions of authors or in other words a make believe alternative world. Through Neuromancer the audience becomes more aware of current ideas towards technology by reading about a possible future. According to Moore (1998): by embracing dialectical tension the audience can recognise and resist power dynamics by standing outside of mainstream society and actively seek the possibilities of corrective action. The dialectical tension of Neuromancer allows the reader through a comic perspective to imagine a world that is not predetermined or set. 13. As an influential new form of social criticism Neuromancer and cyberpunk fiction in general has beencharacterised as an influential new form of social criticism and to anextent can act as a vehicle for social change through promoting self-reflection and critical assessment. William Gibson has been criticised for not making suggestions forchanges to the current status quo. Sponster (1992) explains this through ideological groundsRefusing to propose progressive politics even through itsdystopian future opens up considerable space for resistance to thelogic of late capitalism. 14. Works to raise awareness However Neuromancer instead works to bring about raised awarenessabout technology through self-reflection. Gibson states his text is about the present. It is not about an imagined future. Its a scary way of coming to terms with the awe and terror inspired in me by the world we live in(Quoted in Beard 1999, p.5) Gibson deliberately used his novel in this way to raise awarenessabout the possible implications of technology and society. This method is interesting as it relies on its audiences ability topick up on the implied meaning in the text. e.g. Pengo, a German hacker: who was so inspired by Neuromancer. He decided to hack into an steal data from the U.S computernetworks and sell it to the Russian KGB(Zuckerman, 1991, p.103) 15. Conclusion Burke (1073) assumes that instead of individuals gaining insight onsociety they instead gain insight into themselves and act to changethemselves rather than society at large. There are many oppositional readings on Neuromancer, recognizingthat not everyone will reach the same conclusion towards the futureas Gibson intended is important but it is still of note that dialecticaltension is a useful rhetorical technique for encouraging individualsto examine and critique current social norms.