Human existence as parallel to actors playing their roles on stage is an important theme expressed in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Grigori Kozintsev’s film adaptation of the same play. Following the tradition of the truth saying fool as depicted by Erasmus in Praise of Folly, the Fool in Shakespeare and Kozintsev plays an important role in highlighting to Lear and the audience that the kingly pomp and authority are mere props in the stage of the world. Kozintsev’s staging of the Fool, while deviating the most from the play, serves to convey the message of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Kozintsev’s Fool is visible throughout the film, entering the scene with the king and remaining in the scene even after the king dies. The Fool grows closer to King Lear in proximity as the King is stripped of his authority. Moreover, the Fool controls the tune of the film’s last scene as he plays music, and enacts the birth into the stage of fools. Such extended presence of the Fool is used by the director to convey the universal message on the nature of human existence explored in Shakespeare.
This paper examines the problems of agency in Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life and argues that agency needs to be understood in terms of three distinct but inter-related concepts: social latitude (the freedom afforded by society), awareness (one’s understanding of oneself and one’s situation) and personal capability (the will and ability to act even when one has both social latitude and awareness). In contrast to Marxist and critical theories that stress the power of hegemonic metanarratives to mold subjectivities, this formulation of agency stresses the interplay of cultural forces and individual psychological factors. In Lee’s tragic tale, Franklin ‘Doc’ Hata is shaped not only by the social pressures of growing up an ethnic Korean in Imperial Japan or living as an Asian American in a largely white town in the USA, but also by the psychological mechanisms of defense he employs to navigate his difficulties. Although Hata’s modest aims seem perfectly attainable by most, he is repeatedly unable to take the actions necessary to achieve his goals because he lacks either the social latitude to do so, a true awareness of his own motivations or the world he lives in, or the personal capacity to act even when he finally sees the truth. In constructing a modern form of tragedy that stresses the interplay of social and psychological forces, Lee outlines some of the complexities of modern life and reveals some of the lacunae of contemporary theoretical formulations of agency.
This essay brings Tennessee Williams and the Buddha into conversation with each other by way of an analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire through the lens of Buddhism. Even though Williams and the Buddha are about 2500 years apart, I argue that there are intersections between Williams’ keen observations about human nature and the Buddha’s teachings. I bring these connections into relief through a consideration of Streetcar’s setting and main characters, Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski and Blanche Dubois, in terms of fundamental, early Buddhist concepts such as desire (tan ˙ hā) and the three defilements (kilesas). The Buddhist tradition has long utilized stories for didactic purposes and through this analysis, Williams’ play comes into focus as a fitting, modern addition to this storehouse of instructive narratives.
This paper explores the both generative and mechanistic aspects of biotechnological advances in relation to the human body in Hanif Kureishi’s novel, The Body, with particular reference to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s conceptions of the body and assemblage. The protagonist Adam, in his mid-sixties, metamorphoses into a new body by transplanting his brain into a young and beautiful corpse. Adam’s transformation appears to enhance Adam’s power, by means of an assemblage of self and the Other. However, this hybrid instead repeats and intensifies a system of desire as a lack inherent in the principles of capitalism and colonialism in which those in positions of power consume the bodies of the Other. In spite of the negative vision of a hybrid pushed by advances in technology, Adam, as a new body, experiences the process of “becoming-other” and “aging” from the perspective of Deleuze and Guattari. This should be distinguished from Homi Bhabha’s notion of “inbetweenness” which implies a space between self and the Other premised on “incommunitibility.” It is my central contention here that Deleuze’s assertions of “becoming-other” and “aging” provide us with interactive transformations between self and the Other, the body and the mind, the living and the dead over time, thus offering a site of the potential of the body which Bhabha’s approach does not allow.
The purpose of this paper is mainly diagnostic. It investigates current research projects in computational neuroscience to emphasize a shift from a life science approach (biology and medicine) to a computer science approach in the epistemology of the human brain. This shift updates and preserves the “posthuman view” (N. Katherine Hayles) to render a proper regime of knowledge of the brain in the digital age. Moreover, the massive impact of digital media and digital networks in particular cause essential modifications of the concept of the (post-)human subject in the 21st century. At first, the paper will present an analysis of the “Human Brain Project” to highlight the shift from the human to the posthuman brain in one of the most influential projects in computational neuroscience at the moment. What follows is a discussion of the relations between the “Human Brain Project” and the transhumanistimpelled “Substrate-Independent Mind Project” to emphasize the rise of the posthuman brain between visions of treatment and enhancement. Finally, the paper draws attention to recent theory of digital networks to expose some broader transformations of the concept of the (post-)human subject. In the information-driven ‘century of the brain’ that is dominated by (computational) neuroscience, the human as a “cerebral subject” (Fernando Vidal) turns into an ‘in silico cerebral subject.’ As a programmable and networked model of/for human properties the ‘in silico cerebral subject’ becomes the main epistemic object in computational neuroscience to re-conceptualize the human (brain) out of a multi-level system with brain-like artificial intelligence.
This essay takes as its point of departure a little known text by Jean-François Lyotard on art and its relation to global networks of telecommunication in order to explore the possibilities for social and political communities in the context of global capital. Borrowing Heidegger’s notion of an “enframing” (Gestell) of nature by technology, Lyotard inquires into a similar enframing of art, arguing that art, through the very fact that it is an unprogrammable kind of techne, has the power to “suspend” the programs of what he calls “capitalist technoscience,” and in so doing works against the loss of originality such programs produce. Linking this to Lyotard’s famous discussion of the avantgarde, I examine the potential political force of such a suspension or “epoche,” particularly with regard to the formation of possible publics in the absence of world historical “grand narratives” that would situate a universal human subject within a particular conception of historical progress. Lyotard argues that the Idea (in the Kantian sense) of totality no longer unproblematically provides the horizon for political thought. Any such cosmopolitan community is therefore problematic, communities can only be formed in the absence of necessarily shared qualities or traits. They must therefore be “promethean” in the sense of being creative, daring, and open to reinterpretation. Not only is this not something to be lamented, however, it is something that should be affirmed for the open possibilities it offers.
This paper traces the history of conscientious objection and draft evasion in Republic of Korea, from the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 to the end of the militarized regimes in 1993. Much focus will be given to the process in which universal male conscription was established and solidified as a social norm in South Korean society. It was during the Korean War period when universal male conscription began to be negatively perceived as a “poor man’s draft” and led to rampant draft evasion that the Syngman Rhee regime (1948- 1960) failed to control. The normalization process began during the militarized regime of Chung-hee Park (1961–1979), when social impetuses were established alongside hegemonic masculinity and gender hierarchy to necessitate the completion of compulsory military service for men to function in society. It also coincided with the increased criminalization of draft evasion, as well as the persecution and stigmatization of religious conscientious objectors in South Korea, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists, who were viewed indifferently from draft evaders. The negative labeling of draft evader and conscientious objectors as social deviants was also a state-led initiative to solidify universal male conscription as a social norm. This process was supported by the implementation of a national surveillance system which made possible the intensification of a nation-wide crackdown on draft evasion and conscientious objection. Much of the historical narrative will be analyzed using Foucauldian approaches to disciplinary mechanisms; in this case, normalization, surveillance and delinquency. The successful implementation of these disciplinary mechanisms perpetuated the normalized existence of universal male conscription and the persecution of its objectors, and its firm standing in South Korean society exemplifies the power of normalization.