Saturday, January 31, 2009
It's no coincidence that the specter of drug use looms throughout both Brave New World and Dr. Bloodmoney. As has been pointed out, the supposedly separate [in]formalized pharmacological and illicit drug industries remain potent expressions and realities of late capitalism in the 21st century. The influence of drugs on the human subject is the most explicit example of how the twin vehicles (body and brain) through which we experience and process our everyday lives, are violently impacted by machines and institutions. Through drugs, this occurs at the most intimate physiological and pychological levels.
As in BNW, Dr. Bloodmoney depicts this confluence of media technologies and psychic manipulation into an altered state of consciousness that pervades the social landscape. No one has to think too hard to recall the seemingly endless loop of lunestra, viagara, nuvaring, cialis, clariten, adderol, ad nauseum commercials without seeing the similarities between dys/utopias and the world we actually inhabit. Indeed, hegemonic structures and institutions driven by market forces acting visciously and against the person. And I think it's worth noting. Anaphorically, if necessary.
I'm reminded of Curtis' post last week where he states that capitalism is taking a beating. I would agree. However, I believe it's about time. In fact, capitalism (and its "invisible" market forces) have been distributing its own brand of punishment for centuries now. I believe this is a criticism that both Huxley and Dick share. At another point (forgive me, Curtis, for fixating on your post so heavily),the lack of stories where capitalism saves the day is lamented. I think it should be noted that those stories already exist. They're called the "protestant work ethic" and "social Darwinism" for starters. I would echo the thoughts of Jameson in my opinion that there's no need to make SF on a theme that is so hegemonic as there is nothing phantasmagorical about such a frame. SF also exists to detonate existing paradigms, not merely to underwrite them. Disagreements not withstanding, I have to say Curtis provides food for thought in terms of his pragmatic stance, though I question the characterization of marxian (small "m") critiques as "high society" or "elitist." There's nothing elite about having one's eyes open to material realities. When we make leaps of faith way in advance and to the abandonment of dialogical engagement, we give in to mystifications and rationalizations that have no explanatory power whatsoever. At that point, as Marx (big "M") reminds us -- you choose an opiate of mass appeal.
Which brings me back to drugs as 1) mind control, 2) s[ti]mulated experience, and 3) escapism, i.e. Walt Dangerfield. Walt Disney. Disney World. Dizzy Whirl.
But you know me. When I'm not being salty about my African Americaness, I'm dogging out the magical marketplace. ;-)