August 20, 2010

Alan Moore's Watchman and Post Post-humanism [review time]

One direction for Science Fiction to proceed beyond the Post-Humanism subgenre is suggested within the pages of Watchmen through the character of Adrian Veidt. As long as there is an audience for Sci-Fi, the genre can continue to have meaning for humanity despite Post-Humanism’s climactic nature. Veidt’s perfume line, ‘Nostalgia’, is to be replaced with a more forward looking line after the crisis in New York solves the world’s conflicts. ‘Millenium’ embodies the idea that in times of great prosperity and little fear it is easier to be optimistic when looking to the future. The Post-humanism movement was pessimistic and served as an admonitory medium, and it is logical that after the presented crises become unlikely, optimism will stem from it. Although post-humanism is somewhat climatic, as long as there is a market and a demand for Sci-Fi, new subgenres will continue to emerge from the ruins. One of these may present new hope for humanity and technology as the threats posed by technological advance become improbable.
Advertising is by nature optimistic, playing upon the desires of its target market. Veidt markets his product by masking the present fears and focusing on a more positive past in his business proposal: “In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse …in the modified visions of a half-imagined past.” Literature stems from a different direction because its purpose is not to sell a product but to convey a message. In Post-Humanism, this message is a bleak one about the destruction of our species as a result of current problems. However, both Adrian’s advertisements and the genre of Sci-Fi can go in the same direction once the danger of the eradication of humanity has been avoided. A new direction for Sci-Fi would be the idealization of the future of technology and the human race, where the crises have been overcome. Once fears have come to be accepted as gratuitous, the genre can go beyond dystopian and apocalyptic fiction and into a new ideal in technological advancement. After the fear over A.I. and cyberspace die down, the conveniences offered by science will hopefully be appreciated in literature.

As suggested by Moore through Adrian’s marketing proposal, once the great conflicts of the world are resolved, “a new surge of social optimism is likely.” Veidt intends not only to create world peace, but to use that peace for profit. He applies his understanding of human psychology to his business. This can be seen as a model for literature to follow. The demands of the audience can be applied to the craft of a new product. Post-humanism is not the end for Sci-Fi because it is not the end of humanity, but a representation of current fears. In future, Sci-Fi can hopefully illustrate the benefits of technology to humanity once those fears have been seen to be irrelevant.

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