Badmington, Neil. “From Difference to Differance.” Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within. Psychology Press, 2004.
This chapter uses Derridean deconstruction to unravel the binary of human/alien. Badmington identifies “gaps” in humanist discourse, which signify “as surely as the moments of intention” (153). Although Badmington is writing about aliens, I will use this same idea and apply it to animation and attempt to bridge the perceived distance between viewer and animated characters. My usage of this source would probably fall under the category of “piggybacking”; I am borrowing Badmington’s scholarship on a certain topic and applying it to a related yet different field.
Baudrillard, Jean. “The Precession of Simulacra.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed, edited by Vincent B. Leitch, Norton, 2010, pp. 1556-66.
In this essay, Baudrillard discusses “hyperreality,” a state in which the signifier is detached from the signified. Thus, we live in a world of simulation, which no longer reflects reality. I am interested in using this essay to explore the connection between hyperreality and posthumanism. Specifically, I think it is very relevant to Ghost in the Shell and Kusanagi’s struggle to find her humanity and her relationship with her cyborgian body. I think my use of this source can be classified as “piggybacking.”
De Man, Paul. “Autobiography as De-facement.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 94, no. 5, Dec. 1979, pp. 919-30. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2906560. Accessed 27 October 2016.
In The Rhetoric of Romanticism, De Man deals with the two terms “figuration” and “disfiguration,” which are the ability of a text to posit meaning and the simultaneous instability of the internal structure of a text which then erases such meaning. In the essay “Autobiography as De-facement,” De Man sees autobiography not as “a genre or a mode, but a figure of reading or of understanding that occurs…in all texts” (70). He then goes on to identify prosopopoeia as the dominant trope of autobiography, which deals with the “giving and taking away of faces, with…figuration and disfiguration” (76). His ultimate point is that (figurative) language is used both to give face and then unravel that meaning that was posited. I would like to use De Man’s ideas about language and texts and apply them to animation, which can also be seen as the giving of voice (and life) to construct meaning. It seems like a glaring error to assume that this meaning that is created is stable and not subject to its own deconstruction. A large part of my essay seems to be dealing with the deconstruction of the human subject in the face of animation, but I think I also need to address the deconstruction of the animation itself, and how it potentially fails at allowing the human subject to transcend traditional human boundaries. Again, I would call my use of this source as “piggybacking.”
Derrida, Jacque, and David Wills. “The Animal That I Therefore Am.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, pp. 369-418. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1344276. Accessed 16 Nov. 2016.
In this work, Derrida coins the neologism “limitrophy” to consider the divide between animal and human, “not just because it will concern what sprouts or grows at the limit, around the limit, by maintaining the limit, but also what feeds the limit, generates it, raises it, and complicates it” (398). His enquiry is, in part, a historical one, as he analyzes philosophers’ treatments of this divide from Aristotle to Heidegger and asserts that they are all guilty of misrepresentation. One thing that I felt Derrida sort of glosses over is other philosophers’, particularly Lacan’s, assertion that the divide exists because of language. I would like to use this source in two ways, then. One is a simple application of Derrida’s notions of the ontological categories of Human and Animal to posthuman discourse. The other is to address the divide between human and animal in terms of language, and how anthropomorphized animated characters further deconstruct the divide. This would be both “piggybacking” and “leapfrogging.”
Goodall, Jane. “Hybridity and the End of Innocence.” The Illusion of Life II: More Essays on Animation, edited by Alan Cholodenko, Power Publications, 2007, pp. 152-71.
Goodall focuses on the way that animation is, on the one hand, “strongly identified with the popular culture of early childhood,” and on the other “has also proved its capacity for catering to the sado-erotic fantasies of an adults-only audience” (152). She imagines these two poles in the tradition of William Blake’s innocence and experience categories, where, in the “experience” end of animation, “the category divisions are always threatening to dissolve” (155). Goodall does not simply focus on the intended outcomes on the viewers’ part, but also comments on the animators’ relationship with the animated worlds that they create, and the ways in which they play games with genre and taxonomic slippage through, literally, the slip of the pen. I think I’ll use this essay in relation to Paul de Man because it focuses on the inherent instability of animation and exposes it as mere lines that draw on familiar tropes in order to signify meaning. This, too, would be “piggybacking.”
Hayles, N. Katherine. “Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers.” How We Became Posthuman. Kindle ed., University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 25-48.
In this chapter, Hayles addresses the results of rethinking human beings as information systems. This would render obsolete the traditional binaries that exist in our psyches, the primary one being presence/absence. In its place, we are left with the new binary of pattern/randomness, which affects both the “material substrate” (change in the body) and “the codes of representation” (change in the message). Hayles borrows Lacan’s floating signifier to illustrate her thesis, saying that “information technologies operate within a realm in which the signifier is opened to a rich interplay of difference…[it] can no longer be understood as a single marker…rather it exists as a flexible chain of markers bound together by the arbitrary relations specified by the relevant codes” (30). I think this chapter will be helpful in my attempt to construct a posthuman identity that can then be applied to animation. This, yet again, is “piggybacking.”
Haraway, Donna. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Social-Feminism in the 1980s.” The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed, edited by Vincent B. Leitch, Norton, 2010, pp. 2190-2220.
Haraway outlines an “ironic political myth” of the cyborg that would address women’s’ places in the advanced technological world. Current tools for analysis—Marxism, feminism, etc.—are outdated or problematic. The cyborg is a good metaphor because it resists current humanist concepts of women. Its replication is “uncoupled from organic reproduction,” does not have an origin myth, and does not aspire to “organic wholeness through the final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity.” What I’m mainly interested in is Haraway’s focus on the concept of the origin and reproduction as it relates to the cyborg. This would be relevant mostly to Ghost in the Shell and the “birth” scene at the beginning of the film in which the viewer sees a cyborg being created. I guess this would also be “piggybacking.”
Kakoudaki, Despina. Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People. Rutgers University Press, 2014.
This whole book looks promising, but so far I’ve only read the first chapter entitled “The Artificial Birth,” which I want to use for similar purposes as Haraway’s essay. Kakoudaki argues in this chapter that in order “to understand the origins of the discourse of the artificial person…we might focus on how they were born” (86). She posits that when we ask “where do artificial people come from?” we are really unconsciously asking “where do people come from?” Origin stories, then, can be our potential link between real and artificial people. I plan on using this essay as well as Haraway’s to consider the birth scene in Ghost in the Shell. Beyond this film, however, I think notions of origin stories and birth can be applied more generally to animation itself and to a consideration of the relationship between animator and animated characters. This would be considered “piggybacking.”
At the center of my diagram is Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell and Finn the Human from Adventure Time. Both of these characters are facing existential crises because their understandings of “human” and what that entails is being challenged. For Kusanagi, she is wondering whether or not she is even human and if her memories are really hers or they are false ones that were given to her. Finn, for the most part, is really happy and upbeat, but he does get really contemplative occasionally when he pauses to think about the fact that he is literally the last human being on earth. They are surrounded by a few people telling them not to worry because “human” is a flexible category anyway. For Baudrillard, reality does not even exist; for Derrida and Badmington, the line between human/Other is arbitrary and needs to be deconstructed; for Hayles, we are moving towards conceptualizing humans as information systems; and for Haraway, the cyborg (as opposed to human) is not bogged down by all that outdated human baggage. I do have a few people in my diagram who are outside of this circle of comforting and assuaging Finn and Kusanagi of their fears, but I don’t think I have any serious disagreement in my sources. I just have many different ideas about conceptualizing animation, language, and artificial life, and hope to unite them so that they can offer a new perspective on things in this age of virtual reality and rapid technological advancement. So my motivating moves would primarily be #2 and #5.