By Neil Badmington
Alien Chic offers a cultural historical past of the alien because the Nineteen Fifties, asking ourselves why our attitudes to extraterrestrial beings have shifted from worry to affection, and what this may let us know approximately how we now see ourselves and others.
Neil Badmington explores our dating with extraterrestrial beings, inscribed in movies reminiscent of The warfare of the Worlds, Mars Attacks!, Mission to Mars and Independence Day; and the way thinkers similar to Descartes, Barthes, Freud, Lyotard and Derrida have conceptualised what it capability to be human (and post-human).
Alien Chic examines the the concept that of posthumanism in an age while the traces among what's human and what's non-human are more and more blurred by way of advances in technology and know-how, for instance genetic cloning and engineering, and the advance of AI and cyborgs.
Questioning even if our present embracing of all issues 'alien' - within the kind of extraterrestrial devices or abduction narratives, for example - stems from a wish to reaffirm ourselves as 'human', this can be an unique and thought-provoking contribution to the research of posthumanism.
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Additional info for Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within
It is time, Althusser insists, to reject humanism, to ‘rid the domain of Marxist philosophy of all the “Humanist” rubbish that is brazenly being dumped into it’,37 to move on to a new order of things. Historical materialism makes such a break possible; ‘Man’ can be reduced to ashes by Marx’s ‘scientific discovery’ of 1845. A new beginning, a genuine beginning, can finally occur: One thing is certain: one cannot begin with man, because that would be to begin with a bourgeois idea of ‘man’, and because the idea of beginning with man, in other words the idea of an absolute point of departure (=of an essence) belongs to bourgeois philosophy.
This is a critical question: if we describe them as useless, we arrogate to ourselves the right to destroy them. The same thing goes for any given aspect of humanity itself: once the human is no longer defined in terms of transcendence and liberty, but in terms of functions and of biological equilibrium, the definition of the human itself begins to fade, along with that of humanism. Occidental humanism was already challenged by the irruption of other cultures as early as the sixteenth century. ’43 The desire to master the human with science, to make it finally and fully present, actually has the effect of destabilizing the human being’s position at the centre of things.
My body, this paper, this fire’ had very little to say about the critique of the way in which Folie et déraison positioned itself outside and beyond the humanist legacy of reason. Derrida had perhaps touched a nerve. The critique of Foucault’s project signals, I think, the emergence of a somewhat different approach to the question of ‘Man’. There is, in Derrida’s text, a reluctance to be seduced—he writes, after all, of the ‘seductive’ quality of Folie et déraison55—by anti-humanism’s appeal to a pure outside.