Death, Pain and Resurrection: Episode 3

We are again pleased to offer you a wonderfully exciting and provocative episode of Deletion. The pieces included take us from the sonic terror fields of outer space to inner personal traumas, from the confusions of time travel to the brutality of totalitarian thought control and the dangers and pleasures of Sade as it manifests in those science fiction films where the body is penetrated and penetrable. Individual, social and collective death haunts the offerings gathered here, although we also see moments of resurrection and renewal whether that be through the recutting of a science fiction classic, or the attention to a narrative moment where bare life nearly snuffed out begins again. Frederic Jameson has argued that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism; in this edition endings are complex, uneven, brutal, if at times hopeful.

The episode begins with Darrin Verhagen’s Music of the Spheres, which he asks us to listen to in high volume while wearing headphones. It is a brutal piece of sonic futurism, accompanied by a close up shot of a giant meteor-like rock endlessly spinning in space. This is a wet, disorientating phenomenological encounter where one hears and sees strangely as if the multiverse has opened up before one’s eyes. The rock exists in a ‘violent field’ while the sound pours out, flows out, creating its own space, annihilating its own time. Verhagen invites us to consider that this may be a terrifying listen but also that it may bring joy, insane laughter to the listener trapped in its strangeness.

Lindsay Hallam’s piece, Philosophy in the Laboratory: Sex, Sade and Science Fiction, explores the way Sade might be incorporated into how one understands the science fiction reproductive imagination, so often sterile and a-sexual. Employing a ‘pornographic philosophy’ to the films of David Cronenberg, Hallam looks at the way technology and bodily transgression heralds a future humanism in all its fiery and uneven possibilities. Hallam argues that in a film such as Shivers, ‘technology can be a means to unleash the baser instincts, rather than repressing them. Contact with technology is often a catalyst that sparks a course of experimentation with new ways of sexual (and violent) expression’ – a provocative reimagining of the relationship between sex and science fiction.

Rebecca Hutton’s Transitions, transfers and transgressions: (temporary) trans* wish-fulfilment in SF body-exchange narratives, explores the idea of ‘thought experimentation’ in David Levithan’s Every day (2012). Hutton examines the novel’s attempt to describe the ‘possibility of an amorphous existence’. For Hutton, the collapse of corporeal and identity borders and boundaries in the novel opens up the text to question such dualities, although ultimately it fails to recast gender and sexual signification. As Hutton puts it, ‘in the process of real world transitioning the body will continue to fall short of being what is desired and the changing body will struggle to reach a state that is satisfactory for those both within and outside of the body’.

In Mad as a Hamster, Jacqueline Furby explores Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995) in terms of madness and trauma and how the film’s time travel narrative negotiates, questions and undermines these internal manifestations. Furby draws upon Freud’s concept of psychosis to delve into the way madness and the logic of time travel intersect, both proving and disproving each others ‘reality’. The audience is caught up in this game of delusion also, and tellingly, ‘once in the delusional narrative one can’t escape because everything may be a delusion’.

In Scott Wilson’s THX 1138: (Re-) Made in God’s Image, he develops a fan analyses of the processes involved in Lucas’ constant remediation of THX 1138 (1971). Wilson argues that the digitalisation of the mise-en-scène  in the reboot versions, along with extra narrative information, undermines the vision of the original cut. While the 1971 version of the film portrayed a dystopian society on the verge of disintegration, Lucas’ new versions of the film create an aesthetic and narrative environment that seems dominant and all-powerful, undermining the chilling signification that the first film had. As a fan of the original, this has particular affecting consequences for Scott.

The last piece in Episode 3 is again by Darrin Verhagen. Shinjuku Thief – 4 Barcodes (after MPD Psycho) from Audiotion: Sonic tribute to Takashi Miike (Vital 004, 2007) is an imagined soundtrack to Takashi’s brilliantly dark film of the same name. The soundtrack is populated with a complex mixture of analogue scratches, echoes, reverbs, digital bleeps, rich electronic melody, and constant shifts in tone and register. It is an uncanny composition, as if something is always waiting to emerge from the shadows of the piece. Posthuman, dystopic, haunted by the walking dead of the city, the soundtrack crawls its way into your imagination.

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