Philip K. Dick’s fiction offers us a deeply psychological reading of the relationship between humans and objects, or between the notion “human” and the notion “thing”. PKD imagines the future, the present and the past in ways that make even normal scenes of everyday life – sitting down to dinner, playing in the backyard – seem alien and uncanny. “The Father-Thing” is an example of a story that can act as a kind of prototype for the science fictional “thing”. I will use Lacan’s mirror stage as well as some details from Dick’s text to show how “The Father-Thing” presents the Thing as a psychological force.
Max Brooks’s novel World War Z, while hardly containing its neoliberal imperialist fervor, manages to evolve the zombie genre in the direction of ecological awareness. The text is a series of interviews with survivors of the worldwide zombie apocalypse. The lattice of locations – beach, rain forest, deep sea submarine, Arctic tundra, desert, Antarctic wasteland, mountains, swamps – creates a topology, a three dimensional representation of the globe. This is epitomized by an interview with an astronaut who spent his time during the “zombie wars” orbiting Earth inside the International Space Station, keeping GPS satellites in working order. He provides the reader with a God’s-eye view, the “view from above.” The novel’s narrative structure maps the globe.
My wife was reading to our two year old son recently. I was washing the dishes, only half listening to the story, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. I realized that this peppy children’s book is a subversive allegory of over-consumption leading to drastic climate change and mass exodus, all wrapped in a delightfully goofy bedtime “story” whose ostensive purpose is to endear grandpa to the kids, and perhaps teach them a little something about the uses of visual metaphor.
I spent a couple of years developing Wandering Academic into a sprawling website that housed international school data, scores of uneven posts about education and technology, some random bits and pieces. It never had any focus so I scrapped it.
The new incarnation of Wandering Academic is an academic blog to test out ideas on materials that I plan to use for research or materials that I include in courses and syllabuses. This site will end up representing my academic life, from 2013 onward. If you find an idea on this blog particularly useful or inspiring – however unlikely that case may be – please link back to or cite Wandering Academic where appropriate. I welcome comments or suggestions. I welcome personal emails too. Get in touch.
All the ideas and opinions herein are my own, as far as owning an idea is at all possible. Let’s say: they emanate from me and I take responsibility for them.