On Disembodied Paradises and Their Transhumanist Fallacies
The chapter analyzes the »transhumanist optimism of the »San Junipero« episode about mind uploading from the standpoint of critical posthumanism. The first thing that strikes one about the episode, given the apocalyptic nature of most of Black Mirror's episodes and especially with regard to the effects of technology on society in the near future, is how happy (perhaps too happy) and hopeful the ending of »San Junipero« is. The uploading of the minds of dead people to a digital simulation is openly presented as a virtual paradise wherein subjects, leaving their obsolete and transitory flesh behind, have their minds (consciousnesses? souls?) stored in a computer server room so as to finally be able to live a liberated, flawless life. This typically transhumanist perspective (see Hans Moravec, 1994), which believes that subjectivity is located in the mind and that it can be coded in terms of information, has been extensively analyzed and deconstructed by authors like Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Cary Wolfe, Antonio Damasio, and Roberto Marchesini, just to name a few. Following these works, especially that of Hayles, this text will explore, complex subjectivities in order to counter the fallacy of a disembodied mind that might eventually be downloaded to any materiality that is not the body. After tracking the concept of a technological unconscious through its genealogy from Sigmund Freud (1925; 1930 ), Walter Benjamin (1935), Jacques Lacan (1955 ), Jacques Derrida (1967b), Franco Vaccari (1979), Vilém Flusser (1983), Rosalind Krauss (1993), to Antonio Caronia (2006), the text will show that a stratus exists in technology, and the processes by which we inter- act with it, that is not accessible to human thought, but that is nonetheless symbolically structured. This stratus is a fundamental element in the consitution of complex subjectivities and the understanding that embodiment cannot be avoided, not even in interaction and enactment within digital environments.