Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prompts on Gibson & Marcuse, Week 2

Prompt 1

Make an argument which interprets one of the "transcendental" (I want you to be thinking about whether they are transcendental or not, at least) entities of the novel - Wintermute most obviously, although the other AI or even the corporation itself might be valid alternatives - through Heidegger, Marcuse, Dreyfus, or some combination of the above.  Most of you would probably choose Marcuse, but the others are legitimate choices.

Some question you might consider include:  does Wintermute (or some other form of transcendence) fundamentally change the structure of Gibson's rabidly capitalist (very likely one-dimensional) world?  Does Wintermute pose a true challenge to the existing order, or does it perpetuate it?  And, of course, what does that mean for us?  Does Wintermute represent something back in the "real world"?  Note that these questions are examples, and you're better off investigating one question rather than several.

Prompt 2

This is inspired by our discussion in class last week, and in particular by some of the things Karen and Jackson were interested in.

Use Marcuse, including specifics from chapter three and/or chapter four, to analyze a work of "popular" culture.  You are under no obligation to carefully define popular culture or to analyze the term.  If a work (album/video game/movie/book/etc.) is of value to you, but you suspect that it wouldn't be high culture to Marcuse, that's good enough.  You should, as usual, have a specific argument, in this case at least inspired by Marcuse (if you disagree in some fundamental way with Marcuse, this essay might help explain why).  The most obvious question you might begin with is:  "does my chosen work engage in, or try to engage in, the Great Refusal"?

This might sound much the same as what we were doing in class, and it is.  But because you are thinking it through and writing it down, you are obligated to be precise:  to conduct your analysis using precise details of both Marcuse and the work in question.  In other words, you can't just go by what you remember or feel about, say, Mass Effect 3 or whatever:  you need to watch the movie again or play the game again, at least selectively, so you are able to make a precise argument about the details of the "text."

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