new-york

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

Dia at the Hispanic Society

More than futuristic imaginings or dystopian scenarios, what works of science fiction valuably convey to their readers is an acute awareness of materialist contingency. With sci-fi, at its best, everything from civilization to subjectivity is deeply vulnerable to changes (whether natural or man-made) in the greater environment, and therefore as susceptible to erosion or extinction as any common mineral or diminutive life-form. Even words and ideas—the very substance of culture, the science-fiction writer will suggest—are just another part of the organic world. The notion of psychogeography, in other words, should be taken literally. As William S. Burroughs famously observed of his own craft, stripping discourse of any transcendental significance and instead rendering it a mutable, living thing (for which humanity, in a further inversion of values, is but a host): “Language is a virus.”

One

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