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From Utopia to Apocalypse

From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    From Utopia to Apocalypse
    Book Description:

    From Utopia to Apocalypse shows how science fiction generates intriguing and profound insights into politics. Peter Y. Paik reveals that the fantasy of putting annihilating omnipotence to beneficial effect underlies the revolutionary projects that have defined the collective upheavals of the modern age. He traces how this political theology is expressed, and indeed literalized, in popular superhero fiction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7341-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-22)

    This book is a study of revolutionary change. Inasmuch as it focuses on a set of narratives belonging predominantly to the genres of science fiction and fantasy, this study undertakes to examine the hypothetical transformations and imaginary upheavals overtaking fictitious individuals and societies. Yet the underlying contention of this work is that science fiction and fantasy, in particular narratives drawn from media often dismissed as unserious and trivial, such as the comic book and the science fiction film, are capable of achieving profound and probing insights into the principal dilemmas of political life. Indeed, this book explores such themes as...

  4. 1 UTOPIA ACHIEVED The Case of Watchmen
    (pp. 23-70)

    Cadmus throws the stone. The throng of armed men, sprung forth from the dragon’s teeth that the hero has sown into the earth, accuses each other of having hurled the rock and soon come to blows. Most of thespartoiare killed in the ensuing melee, but a handful of the badly wounded survivors are nursed back to health by the Phoenician prince. The survivors accept Cadmus as their ruler and help him to found the city of Thebes.

    The mythical account of the origin of Thebes contains the elements that political thinkers such as Plato and Machiavelli have come...

  5. 2 THE DEFENSE OF NECESSITY On Jang Joon-Hwan’s Save the Green Planet
    (pp. 71-92)

    Toward the end of his response to Alexandre Kojève’s essay “Tyranny and Wisdom,” Leo Strauss gives a somewhat jocular twist to Marx and Engels’s famous call for the proletariat to unite and seize for themselves the reins of power. “Warriors and workers of all countries, unite, while there is time, to prevent the coming of the ‘realm of freedom.’ Defend, with might and main, if it needs to be defended, ‘the realm of necessity.’”¹ To a reader unfamiliar with the grounds of the debate between Strauss and Kojève over the meaning of Xenophon’s dialogue, “Hiero, or Tyrannicus,” the injunction to...

  6. 3 THE SAINTLY POLITICS OF CATASTROPHE Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
    (pp. 93-122)

    The narratives of Hayao Miyazaki are distinguished by their sense of moral nuance and by their fair-minded treatment of dramatic conflict. In the film that has been celebrated as his masterpiece,Princess Mononoke,he treats the problem of environmental destruction with compelling equanimity. The human beings who despoil the natural world are not motivated by greed, nor are they mindless consumers of material possessions. Rather, Miyazaki chooses to portray the destroyers of nature in the most sympathetic light possible—they are the members of a community drawn from the lowliest denizens of feudal Japan: subsistence farmers, destitute laborers, lepers, and...

  7. 4 BETWEEN TRAUMA AND TRAGEDY From The Matrix to V for Vendetta
    (pp. 123-182)

    According to an incisive formation of Slavoj Žižek, it is easier at the present historical moment to imagine the destruction of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Certainly images of apocalyptic destruction abound in contemporary culture, as the increasing interconnectedness of the globe engenders new forms of vulnerability just as it fosters new types of affiliation. In Margaret Atwood’sOryx and Crake,a rigorously rational scientist unleashes a plague that wipes out almost all of humanity in order to populate the world with a new, more peaceful humanoid species. The sexual utopia of Michel Houellebecq’sPlatform,in...

    (pp. 183-184)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 185-200)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 201-208)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-209)