When Roger broached the subject of fiction in relation to invention,
especially science fiction, I am now not surprised that Ramon
Guardans, who raised the topic of the invention of the self today,
commented on it (18 March 2009). Ramon wrote:
"I would say that any invention is at some stage a fiction but not any
fiction materializes into invention. It is when the ideas become
things that the transition or transduction from fiction to invention
occurs, as in thinking a tune and playing it on an instrument or
voice, crafting an image, object or machine. This is probably true in
scientific work too where different optional fictions are tested and
In a post yesterday, Roger explored human consciousness in response to
a post by Derek Hales. Roger wrote:
"It seems to me that both artists and scientists are indeed in the
story construction business, and as you put it " inventions are the
nexus of the real and the imaginary."
In the context of these topics---the invention of self, "invention" as
"fiction," (human) consciousness, and narrative---it seems fitting to
bring up an old science fiction film titled _Blade Runner_ (1982),
which could be described as a late 20th-century interpretation of
The story is set in the future (Los Angeles, 2019) and poses a
relationship between humans and replicants (bio-mechanical robots that
[who?] are nearly indistinguishable from humans). They are used as
slave labor in "off-world" colonies. The narrative is easy to find
online so I won't waste too much time with it here.
However, the advanced replicants (Nexus 6), began to become a violent
disciplinary problem as they developed their own emotional responses
(the Blade Runner is a kind of police officer who kills or "retires"
them if a problem arises). One experimental replicant was "gifted"
with memories to create more emotional maturity. The tension between
the application of "memory implants" in one replicant (who doesn't
quiet understand that she is not human) and a rogue group of
replicants (who understand their status and seek to extend their lives
by returning to earth to find their creator in an effort to extend
their lives), creates a visceral, interesting conundrum of
authenticity in defining consciousness and personal experience (yes,
desire and the fundamental question of what it means to be a human are
part of this drama.)
The subtext of slavery (robots) tears at a key crisis in non-fiction
human society. In a final sequence, as one replicant watches the Blade
Runner, who is charged with killing him, hang from the ledge of a
building, he says, "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?
That's what it is to be a slave." Here "fear" could be interchanged
with "hate." He then saves the Blade Runner's life. (Yes, the idea
that artificial life forms are more humane than humans is a familiar
but still strong narrative device.)
The replicant goes on to describe his own experience as he is about to
"expire" (die), saying, "I have seen things you people wouldn't
believe," and continues to poetically describe memories of
extraordinary personal (otherworldly) experiences that would end with
him. However, the keywords in the dialogue are "you people," which is
coded language that has been used by mostly white people toward black
people (and so-called "others") in the United States. In my opinion,
this inversion of terms, subtly and ironically calls more attention to
their status in relation to one another.
The fact that both the lead characters in this exchange both appear to
be white does not soften the allegory between master and
(mass-produced) slave, at least not for US audiences (it might
actually make it more powerful). While the movie also raises the
interesting question of whether or not that the Blade Runner is actual
human, it more directly describes a system of inequality between
Keeping in mind this kind of story (and that much has changed since it
was created), the notion that interaction with community members, as
suggested by Simon Biggs, might be a neutral playing field seems
utopian to me---but still possible with better understanding between
people of various statuses and experiences, including ages (young and
old). Maxine Heppner pointed out one aspect of the diversity of our
communities in her striking post earlier today.
On a separate note, Derek, I don't think "problem-solving" is a
difficult term to use in art contexts. I would say that art is
continually involved in a similar process to what you have described.
However, it is more likely to be described in art contexts as
constructions of a dialogue that involves problem-solving and critical
On 3/29/09, Simon Biggs <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> A model could be proposed where self is apprehended as created through
> interaction between members of communities as such the first act of
> creation is the socially constituted self, from which all other creation
> (and invention) flows. In this context the model of the solitary artist or
> inventor, producing artefacts that embody creativity, is contested as the
> ideal method to achieve creative outcomes. Rather, creativity is proposed as
> an activity of exchange that enables (creates) people and communities.
> Apprehending creativity as emergent from and innate to the interactions of
> people allows a non-instrumentalist view to emerge. Creativity is not valued
> as arising from a perceived need, a solution or product, nor from a
> supply-side ³blue skies² ideal, but rather as an emergent property of
> communities. This avoids the reductivist thinking that so much debate in
> this field evokes, especially when it gets caught up with areas like
> On 29/3/09 11:47, "roger malina" <email@example.com> wrote:
>> thank you so much for the addition of "invention of the self" to
>> the discussion on artists as inventors !!
>> it seems to me that the brain is such a "plastic organ" that
>> indeed many things that we take to be part of innate nature
>> actually are the result of our interactions with the artefacts we
>> one of the big mysteries in the history of human beings is why
>> it took so long to invent written languages= written languates are
>> a really recent invention in the history of homo sapiens
>> so much of what i consider to be part of "myself' comes not only
>> from my interactions with other people and the world, but with the
>> artefacts we build= what was it like to be a human being before
>> written language and the visual arts were invented ?
>> Roger Malina is in France at this time
>> IN USA
>> phone 1 510 853 2007
>> When in France I can be reached at:
>> 011 33 (0) 6 15 79 59 26
>> or (0) 6 80 45 94 47
>> Yasmin_discussions mailing list
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> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
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HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
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