Limbs of life: literature of postmodern anthropomorphic technology and cosmology

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Title: Limbs of life: literature of postmodern anthropomorphic technology and cosmology
Author: Kim, Ilgu
Abstract: The postmodern's inevitable coexistence with machines changes humans into a machine -like processing entity while machines become more autonomous like humans . Especially focusing upon Artificial Intelligence , many postmodern writers deal with the newly emerging third space between human and nonhuman . This dissertation argues that as the cognitive base of human thoughts and languages , this paranormally blended space of quasi -objects (such as cyborgs ) suggests the new insightful direction of paratactic postmodern culture , which in certain ways parallels anthropomorphic mythologies . As the term "matrix" means "womb" in Greek , the metaverse in postmodern cyberpunk fiction is inherently related to creation myths . If "new technologies ," as Marshal .McLuhan says , "amputate as much as they amplify ," postmodern science fiction writers use anthropomorphic creation myths to reunite those dismembered limbs of the natural body , the human's instinctive transpersonal subconscious . Richard Powers's Helen and Neal Stephenson's avatars are mechanical anthropomorphic technologies (Mechs in McHale's terms ) whose dilemmas are allegorically reflected in their parallels with the Gilgamesh and Galatea myths . Although homogeneity is seriously criticized through Pygmalion's incestuous relation with Galatea and Bob Rife's recovery of glossolalia via a computer virus . Transcendental visions in mechanical anthropomorphic narratives are limited to a less satisfactory level . By contrast , Marge Piercy's Yod and Octavia Butler's Oankali , as the biological anthropomorphic hybrids ("biopunks" in McHale's terms ) show the higher reality which is neither matter nor mind . Their parallel to creation myths , to the Gaia hypothesis and to Golem , like chaos theory , reveals that mind and matter are interdependent and correlated . While answering both "why" questions in science and "how" questions in literature , the entrapment and escapism (mostly in mechanical hybrids ) as well as excitement and joy (mostly in machines of blood and flesh ) of these anthropomorphic technologies are theoretically applied to some important topics in the postmodern literature of science such as the sublime , metamorphoses , information , chaos theory , allegory and linguistics . Finally , this dissertation examines the potential self -idolatry tendency in these "fractal" anthropomorphic hybrids where the finite is reflected as the small scale of the infinite . In the information -flowing society of masquerade , transcendental and sublime moments are safely illuminated by implosive personifications , such as Octavia Butler's transcultural and persistent metaphor of the humble seed .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /10723
Date: 2000-05

Citation

Kim, Ilgu Limbs of life: literature of postmodern anthropomorphic technology and cosmology. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Tech University. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /10723 .

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