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This chapter focuses on the role of the surrealists and their friends in the reception of Anglo-American SF in France. It gives special attention to the opinions of the Parisian surrealists Gérard Legrand and Robert Benayoun, both of whom took a selective approach to the new writing by authors such as Raymond Bradbury, Fredric Brown, and Lewis Padgett. Two important novels, The Dreaming Jewels (1950) by Theodore Sturgeon and I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson, illustrate the themes and issues explored by SF that held the attention of the surrealists. In the latter part of the chapter, I turn around the enquiry to look less at the surrealists’ interest in SF and more that held by SF writers in surrealism. J.G. Ballard’s fascination with surrealism from the 1960s has long been recognized and was acknowledged by the author himself. Ballard’s stories of that decade serve as a further case study to explore the survival or broadening of surrealist themes into SF and asks why a movement frequently associated with a Benjaminian notion of the ’outmoded’ could play such a significant role in a genre that pitched its content so emphatically in the future.
There's a certain pleasure in fantasizing about possessing knowledge, especially possessing secret knowledge to which outsiders don't have access. Such fantasies are typically a source of innocent entertainment. However, under the right conditions, fantasies of knowledge can become epistemically dangerous, because they can generate illusions of genuine knowledge. I argue that this phenomenon helps to explain why some people join and eventually adopt the beliefs of epistemic communities who endorse seemingly bizarre, outlandish claims, such as extreme cults and online conspiracy theory groups. It can be difficult to grasp how members of such groups come to believe the theories they endorse. I argue that one route to such beliefs is via deep absorption in fantasies of knowledge, which can lead entire groups to become collectively detached from reality.
After many years of living the Bohemian life of a poet in Mexico, Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003) moved to Spain and decided to make a living out of literature. Sophie Podolski´s motto, “Writing is a living thing,” was Bolaño´s unique way of approaching literature while practicing literary criticism, rewriting the literary history of Spanish Letters and reconfiguring the Western literary canon in a global world. Soon after the end of the millennium, he became a global literary superstar and the most recognized Latin American contemporary writer. In this chapter, Bolaño´s journey – from an unknown brave poet to a celebrated barbarian novelist – is mapped out through three novellas: Amulet (1999), Distant Star (1996) and Monsieur Pain (1999 [1981–82]). The protagonists of these texts, poets and poetry, show the underlying intense eroticism of power through violence, malice, horror, agony, but also, love, joy, generosity, and tenderness. Making zig-zags, shifts and displacements, the analysis weaves his migrant memories through several geocultural leaps – from Mexico City to Santiago de Chile, and then to Paris – while accentuating the most hideous horrors of a more-than-symbolic modern twentieth century to critique the unfolding of Western civilization through pivotal temporal clusters – the 1960s, 1970s, 1930s–40s.
Contemporary cinema and media studies are marked by a materialist turn that highlights material elements, such as objects, non-human agencies, the environment and places on and off screen, as well as the materiality of media productions and consumption. This article expands on the important scholarship of “materialist” media studies as well as existing ecocinema scholarship by stressing the materiality of digital landscapes in contemporary Chinese fantasy (or qihuan and xuanhuan) film and television works that have gained significant popularity in China and Hong Kong. Specifically, this article examines the animist landscape in film and television adaptions of Eternal Love, a fantasy romance television serial that loosely draws on Daoist mythology. Focusing on the material aspects of digital landscapes of Chinese fantasy cinema, the article develops the notion of the “cinema–ecology complex” to address the materiality of digital landscapes, the cinematic footprint of digitally enhanced landscapes through location shooting and the consumption of landscapes as scenic spots, including daka practices, in film studio cities and related film-induced tourism. Ultimately, this article calls for a textual–infrastructural approach in cinema and media studies, which tends to reorient to the infrastructural aspects of media production, distribution and consumption.
Known for her detective fiction, Dorothy L. Sayers – having received early training in medieval continental romance and languages –dedicated the final decade of her life to her true passion project: her Penguin translation of The Divine Comedy. Her Dante, read by millions, was a fellow master of story-telling: funny, self-deprecating, passionate. In her letters and lectures, she constructed vivid fantasies of Dante as a living man, centering particularly around her readings of a controversial erotic canzone. This chapter reads these fantasies not as transparent escapism from a troubled personal life but, in conjunction with her feminist essays and treatment of the complex sexual politics of Dante’s ‘Terrible Ode’, as a performance of self-authorization, mitigating the audacity of a detective novelist ‘doing’ Dante by modelling alternative relations with medieval authority. This chapter thus reveals a feminist function of fantasies of the Middle Ages in the modern scholarly imaginary.
Chapter 3 moves on to our first constellation, the utopian vision of Planet Earth as an actor in its own right. Rather than conceiving of humans as endowed with a special status that sets them apart from both non-human animals and the planetary ecosphere, proponents of this idea sketch a hypothetical scenario that destabilizes entrenched ways of reflecting on our species’ place in the world. I approach this proposal, framed by a What-If plot line, via two stages: first, by unpacking the Gaia hypothesis as recently revisited by Bruno Latour. I posit that Gaia should be deciphered as a framework that seeks to estrange us for, rather than from, the world. In a second step, the chapter directs attention to N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, proposing that this fantasy text can further tease out the elusive Gaia figure. Even if the champions of the Gaia hypothesis as well as the author of the Broken Earth trilogy assess several options, their utopianism primarily consists in the speculative opening up of novel possibilities for being and living otherwise. A fault line running through the What-If plot line is therefore its characteristic reluctance to forge concrete ways forward.
The typical vision of the Middle Ages western popular culture represents to its global audience is deeply Eurocentric. The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones imagined entire medievalist worlds, but we see only a fraction of them through the stories and travels of the characters. Organised around the theme of mobility, this Element seeks to deconstruct the Eurocentric orientations of western popular medievalisms which typically position Europe as either the whole world or the centre of it, by making them visible and offering alternative perspectives. How does popular culture represent medievalist worlds as global-connected by the movement of people and objects? How do imagined mobilities allow us to create counterstories that resist Eurocentric norms? This study represents the start of what will hopefully be a fruitful and inclusive conversation of what the Middle Ages did, and should, look like.
Court talk is not the style that early modern courtiers use to speak to one another. It is an ersatz substitute for that style, an outsider’s fantasy about insider talk. Taken from conduct manuals, prose romances, poems, and plays, court talk is an overdone approximation of how courtiers are imagined to speak. Tracking the efflorescence of this style, this chapter turns to the still-neglected plays of John Lyly, which sell to their audiences the fantasy that their highly decorated style was the argot of the Elizabethan court. It is a fantasy that prompts aspirants from the period to weave Lyly’s style into their own conversations, even though it is only an exaggerated version, an erudite caricature, of the way Elizabethan barons and lords actually spoke. The failure of court talk to approximate courtliness is exactly what makes it into a synecdoche for a burgeoning social imaginary that I call the courtly public sphere. Through its relentless isocola, court talk expresses what Lauren Berlant might call the “cruel optimism” of this social imaginary: the emptiness of its promise of belonging, and the impossibility of ever letting that promise go.
The main purpose of this chapter is to review the recent literature on male sexual fantasies. Topics that are analysed include sexual fantasies’ definitions and functions; methodological issues related to the disparate measures used across studies; the distinction between fantasies, interests/desires, and experiences; how general and unusual fantasies are developed; prevalence rates and the multidimensional content of fantasies, with highlights on gender, sexual orientation, and personality differences; and, finally, fantasies’ role in sexual offending. Overall, sexual fantasies are pervasive across the general population and, for the most part, they reflect evolutionary perspectives on psychology. As sexual fantasies can be used to increase sexual arousal in people that suffer from dysfunctions and to foster more positive romantic feelings towards a partner, they are important in clinical treatment and marital therapy settings. Moreover, they constitute a central component in the treatment of people convicted of sexual offenses that are at a high risk of recidivism. Therefore, it is essential to understand fantasies’ role in human sexuality and behaviour.
This chapter looks at the contribution of fantasy to theories about Tunguska. As American nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Soviet science fiction writers turned to the well-known Tunguska explosion with fresh eyes. Building on an established tradition in Russia of blending fantasy and science, engineer-turned-writer Alexander Kazantsev proposed that Tunguska had been caused by a nuclear-powered alien spacecraft that exploded over Siberia in 1908. In the years that followed, this fiction became a hypothesis and the source of significant and acrimonious public debate about the borders of legitimate science. As a subject of Cold War fiction, Tunguska reflected a new international orientation toward the relationship between fantasy and science. It also became fodder for further speculation and imagination about the relationship between Siberia and outer space — some of which played a productive role in scientific research as well.
Some sexual killers choose victims in a particular age group. Three killers described here (Igor Irtyshov, Clifford Olson and Arthur Bishop) preferentially targeted children and young adults. Olson was an all-round career criminal who showed bisexual tendencies. Vladimir Vinnichevsky killed very young children, while Anatoly Biryukov sexually attacked and killed babies. Vasily Kulik tortured cats, and later showed a preference for killing children. His switch from young adults to children and elderly women followed damage to his head, which could have harmed his brain. Bishop gave an account of craving, ambivalence, escalation and fighting temptation. He illustrated the difficulty of trying to resist intrusive thoughts (something that psychologists call the ‘white bears effect’). For Irtyshov, the form of rape and choice of victim reflects the assaults that were earlier inflicted upon him.
Phenomena such as fantasy, anger and temptation can be studied in a non-forensic population and insights tentatively extrapolated to lust killers. Consider the fantasy experienced by someone addicted to drugs. An image of a drug might pop into the conscious mind and if it will soon become available, the imagery can be pleasant. Otherwise, it can be tormenting. Fantasy features large in lust killing and appears to play a causal role. If a person already has a tendency towards sexual violence, watching pornography can increase this. The cold-to-hot empathy gap refers to the difficulty someone in a cold state has in appreciating the temptation of being in a hot state. The term ‘displaced aggression’ refers to aggression arising initially from a situation where retaliation against the trigger would be difficult. Sadism can be studied in non-forensic samples. A number of psychoactive drugs can increase the tendency towards aggression.
A relatively large number of serial lust killers were adopted as young children. It appears that those who commit sexual violence against women feel a resentment against their mothers for their adoption. In turn, this fuels resentment against either women in general or those having characteristics in common with their mothers. This would be in addition to the general factor of the disturbance of bonding, which might be common in cases of adoption. The chapter looks at three cases of killers who held such resentment. David Berkowitz was sexually excited by shooting at courting couples, but did not have any sexual contact with his victims. He masturbated to associated imagery. Jack Unterweger was a celebrity in Viennese cultural circuits but killed sex workers in association with having sex with them. Steve Wright killed sex workers in association with having sex with them.
Unemployment, hunger, and declining craft status were more significant than the formal ideas most historians have attended to in radicalising London’s poor. Few of the poor wanted outright revolution. Rather, their mental worlds were packed by a melange of myths, slogans, and ‘intellectual bric-a-brac’, and naïve fantasies and wishful thoughts about the prospects of change. Myths about a golden past, the ‘free-born Englishman’, and the oppressions of the Norman Yoke were spread in songs and slogans of considerable antiquity, and provided the primary languages of radical dissent.
Part I, ‘Hearing Subjects’, turns attention to Robert Schumann, addressing the composer’s early grappling with the Romantic problematisation of subjectivity and personal identity frequently present in his music of the 1830s and early 1840s. In ‘Hearing the Self’, I trace the historical development of subjectivity in music up to Schumann’s time, before turning to an early and notable exemplification of the composer’s practice in Carnaval. This forms the starting point for a more detailed consideration of the ways in which a sense of subjectivity can be manifested in Schumann’s piano music of the 1830s, including such features as allusiveness, idiosyncrasy, interiority, a fantasy principle in connexion of moods, and the questioning of continuity and coherence. Finally, I look at the sense of subjectivity conveyed in Schumann’s concertos and the sense in which they collapse distinctions between self and world.
The second section foregrounds methodological approaches to twenty-first century fiction, starting with Candice Jenkins’s examination of Afro-Futurism and Afro-Pessimism as conceptual frameworks within which contemporary African American fiction has represented the past and present during “the Black Lives Matter era.” Discerning an inherently speculative quality to the two separate bodies of thought, Jenkins argues they share a “a certain radicalism–one inclined towards both building and destroying worlds.” This speculative radicality infuses the work of a remarkably broad range of writers, including N. K. Jemisin, Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, with the generatively imagined restructured societies derived not from utopianism, but the negative affects of intractable historical racism.
Mark Bould’s chapter on “Speculative Fiction” begins with Jonathan Lethem’s literary critical counterfactual in which the genre border between science fiction and mainstream literature never existed and all novels about science were considered one group. As Bould points out, the very term slipstream itself was coined by Bruce Sterling to refer to the disconcerting works of science fiction that played across the edges of varied genre definitions. Heady mixtures of literary conventions have informed all regions of fiction since then, as speculative fiction draws on and critiques archaic and futurist literary movements representing empire, environmentalism, disability, illness, violence, as well as racial, gendered and sexual alterities.
This chapter examines Gothic traditions in East Asian cinema, with a specific focus on films and popular culture from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The chapter explores key features of the East Asian Gothic mode: generic hybridity, mythology, morality and important historical moments in the Western reception of influential films. The central argument uniting the analysis of these three distinct national cinemas concerns the narrative and thematic meaning of the figure of the ghost. How are local audiences expected and invited to respond to these avatars of the deceased? What do they reflect from contemporary society, and how do they comment on the past? The ghost in many of these films is not only an object of fear (indeed, it is frequently not an object of fear at all), but also, with varying frequency, a lover, or a hero or a subject of profound pity and sadness. The evolving meaning of the ghost in films from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong suggests some ways that definitions and understandings of the Gothic should be reconfigured for a global media context.
This chapter aims to describe the psychology of nonbelonging through co-constructed accounts by informal settlement residents who belong – yet also struggle to not belong – to ‘non-places’ such as the informal settlement. It illustrates how (non)belonging is performed as unspoken affective senses of place that are resonant in narratives. Using Lacanian psychoanalytic insights, the chapter contributes to an expanded conceptualisation of ‘senses of place’ by showing that we also perform place belonging in an ‘unconscious’ sense – beyond our discursive performances (place identity) or expressed feeling states (place attachment). This epistemological stance highlights senses of place belonging as coordinated via an unspoken social contract with the hovering interlocutor (Other), who offers the navigational cues to situate where we are (place) and to define who we are (identity).
Steinbeck received much of his early training in creative writing classes at Stanford University. Focusing on Steinbeck’s short story cycle, The Pastures of Heaven, this chapter explores Steinbeck’s education in writing--and his resistance to many of its principles--as it relates to his understanding of the colonial history of the American West. The unstable mixture of realist and fantastic forms, particularly as they relate to the construction of literary character, here encapsulates an ambivalent resonse to the haunting lagacies of slavery and race in the California land. The second part of the chapter, on the story “The Snake,” traces another aspect of Steinbeck’s education--this time in the scientific laboratory--to understand an approach to gender more complex than critics would admit. The experiment with narrative point of view uncovers sexist ideologies in the purportedly objective act of scientific observation, thus bringing attention to the process of attention itself.