helene cixous fiction and its phantoms pdf

Helene Cixous Fiction And Its Phantoms Pdf

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Hélène Cixous

When British writer Arthur C. In , Shannon constructed this curious toy and was proud to show it to his visitors. His demonstration produced an immediate effect on Clarke and, indeed, on almost everyone who had the opportunity to see it.

It is merely a small wooden casket the size and shape of a cigar-box, with a single switch on one face. When you throw the switch, there is an angry, purposeful buzzing.

The lid slowly rises, and from beneath it emerges a hand. The hand reaches down, turns the switch off, and retreats into the box. With the finality of a closing coffin, the lid snaps shut, the buzzing ceases, and peace reigns once more.

The psychological effect, if you do not know what to expect, is devastating. There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing— except switch itself off. Some have retired to professions which still had a future, such as basket-weaving, bee-keeping, truffle-hunting or water-divining. We are surrounded these days by people who talk about cyborgs, androids, and posthumans with great excitement and many are infatuated with robots.

We either love them or hate them and we let them dominate our dreams and our social lives. It is as if we are caught in a narcissistic loop of human-machine simulacra. We ought to ask some new questions about the blurred distinction between humans and machines: Are human beings evolving into some type of Freudian robots at the same pace as AI engineers design their robots to resemble humans?

In short, is the Uncanny Valley becoming a two-way street? Many journalists and scholars have done precisely that. But we also need a well-grounded theoretical grasp of the problem when confronted by human-machine simulacra. Which problem? Is there anything wrong with our obsession with the intelligent machine?

Why should we worry about such obsession and study it? If my hypothesis is correct, that is, human beings are evolving to resemble the intelligent machines we invent even as we build robots to behave more like humans, the result of the ceaseless feedback loop is a new generation of cyborgs with peculiar human-machine interfaces.

After having written a book about it, I am now prepared to say that the Freudian robot figures the ultimate uncanny in our collective unconscious. Hoffmann, Freud pays close attention to dismembered limbs, a severed head, a hand cut off at the wrist, or feet that dance by themselves, etc. This concerns the doubt as to whether an apparently living being is animate or not and, conversely, the uncertainty about whether a lifeless object may not in fact be alive, as, for example, when a tree trunk is perceived to suddenly move and shows itself to be a giant snake or a wild man experiences his first sight of a locomotive or a steamboat.

Among the other lifeless objects which fall into the same category of the uncanny, he mentions wax figures, panopticons, and panoramas and, above all, draws our attention to automatic toys, life-size automata which can perform complicated tasks like blowing trumpets and dancing, and dolls that can close and open their eyes by themselves.

Jentsch further speculates that the uncanny is a semi-conscious projection of the self onto an object even as the object returns to terrify the self in the image of that self-projection.

Freud said yes, but others have disagreed. Obviously, it is more difficult for us to make a quick decision about his animate or inanimate state.

In my view, Nathanael is probably the cleverest automaton to be invented by fiction writer Hoffmann to compete with the inferior doll Olympia designed by the scientists.

Unlike Jentsch who read the story at face value, Freud looked in the right place—i. This is a little strange because we know that Freudian took a keen interest in the mechanisms of the unconscious. For example, he discussed the camera obscura and the mystic writing pad and their relationship to the unconscious. On that basis, psychical locality will correspond to a point inside the apparatus at which one of the preliminary stages of an image comes into being.

Indeed, what do we know about the psychic life of intelligent machines? These questions will take us to the work of Japanese robot engineer Masahiro Mori whose hypothesis of the Uncanny Valley for the AI industry has been greatly influential over the past several decades. The Uncanny Valley One of the latest developments in this area has emerged from the work of engineers, robot scientists, and psychiatrists in what has been termed the Uncanny Valley hypothesis. After surveying the various kinds of prosthetic hands, Mori suggests that as the new technology further animates the prosthetic hand by enabling prosthetic fingers to move automatically, this will cause the animated hand to slide toward the bottom of the uncanny valley.

The above diagram illustrates how Mori has worked out this hypothesis after Freud. We might be happy this line is into the still valley of a corpse and that of not the living dead! I think this explains the mystery of the uncanny valley: Why do we humans have such a feeling of strangeness?

Is this necessary? I have not yet considered it deeply, but it may be important to our self-preservation. The provocative questions posed by the Japanese roboticist have since led to what is widely known as the Uncanny Valley research and, over the past decades, that research has taken off in all sorts of directions ranging from robot engineering to computer games or subcultures, but the primary concerns remain more or less constant as the scientists try to explore the emotional and cognitive impact of humanoid robots, automata, and social robots upon human beings.

The more a robot looks and behaves like a real human being, the more expectations the human partner seems to have of its abilities and the result is often a negative reaction from the human observer, and so on. Freud himself would have taken a keen interest in such experiments. However, the question is whether the result of these studies can really tell us anything new about the uncanny.

If so, where do we turn for new insights in the study of the uncanny? This laboratory was founded and directed by late Marvin Minsky who is widely regarded as the founder of Artificial Intelligence and robotic science.

As a matter of fact, Minsky had long engaged with Freud and psychoanalysis in unique and fascinating ways. This is a difficult enterprise, because a humanoid robot is a much more ambitious and complex simulation project than Colby and his team could possibly envision with their neurotic machine and PARRY.

The construction of such robots entails formidable technical obstacles and, more important, it raises fundamental philosophical issues about cognition, memory, reflexivity, consciousness and so on.

For example, what makes human beings unique or not so unique? Or what is it that makes robots endearing or uncanny to humans? In developing his robotic model of the mind, Minksy frames these problems in explicitly Freudian terms as is demonstrated by the above diagram from his book The Emotion Machine. The main difference is that his particular model—rather than some alternatives—also serves as a model for humanoid robots.

So whenever anything goes wrong, I can see exactly what my programs have done—so that I can then debug myself. Minsky does not shun complexity nor does he approach the cognitive unconscious via semantics and established concepts.

The latter—verbal sense and nonsense—may be explained by the complex pathways of the interconnected network systems in the unconscious. How large and how complex are the interconnected network systems in the human cognitive unconscious? No one has an answer yet. Minsky believes that such a task is indeed difficult but not out of reach.

To design machines that can do what the human mind does is to build the Freudian robot of the future. Why humanoid robots? Minsky would reply that this has something to do with our dream of immortality. He further predicts that human beings will achieve near-immortality by using robotics and prosthetic devices. We will be able to replace all damaged body parts including our brain cells and live a healthy and comfortable life for close to ten thousand years.

And we can even transfer our personality into the computer and become computers—i. As a self-styled neo-Freudian, Minsky has somehow neglected to consider the mechanisms of repression with respect to death. Will death ever be conquered? Is the desire to master the unconscious a manifestation of the death drive that Freud has discerned in the human civilization?

The familiar psychic defense mechanisms that Freud identified long ago now bring us face to face with the return of the repressed in the work of Minsky and other AI scientists. Their robots are Freudian robots in the sense that they embody the ultimate uncanny in our collective unconscious.

Hegel, S. Krach, T. Kircher, B. Wrede, and G. Toggle navigation.

Visual Uncanny. Freud's Screen Translation in Hitchcock

The beastly protagonist and narrator has dedicated its working life to building and organizing a perfect shelter, an environment homely, quiet and secure. It is continuously constructing and reconstructing, mending and repairing, surveying and controlling, forever trapped in the labour of keeping the outside at bay. Yet unhomely forces are perpetually there. Worse, the more work is put into securing the burrow, the more it seems to be haunted by ghostly presences. This is the realm of the uncanny Freud,

Uncanny matters: Kafka’s burrow, the unhomely and the study of organizational space

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However, this unfamiliarity of the real is something which grounded the domain of suspense in the prose narratives and helped in rendering the text a creepy sentimentality. But it should be kept in mind that this feeling is nothing alien to our emotional praxis. Rather, it derives or finds its root from the mundaneness of our life. Film as a new sign system can different modes of presentation to render the familiar unfamiliar ranging from shots, set-design, settings to sound cuts. Frankenstein , Dracula , Werewolves are some of the buzz titles in the cinematic world which emerged out of the popular vive of the horror.

The Invention of the Freudian Robot

Fiction and Its Phantoms: A Reading of Freud's Das Unheimliche (The ‘Uncanny’)

When British writer Arthur C. In , Shannon constructed this curious toy and was proud to show it to his visitors. His demonstration produced an immediate effect on Clarke and, indeed, on almost everyone who had the opportunity to see it. It is merely a small wooden casket the size and shape of a cigar-box, with a single switch on one face. When you throw the switch, there is an angry, purposeful buzzing. The lid slowly rises, and from beneath it emerges a hand.

Edited by Daniel Boscaljon. Reading it was an aesthetic, ethical, spiritual journey, often unnerving, yet delightful even in its unsettling discomfort. There is an unusual force here, an uncanny nature that is both theme and actuality, as the essays frequently perform what they are about; a strangeness emerges from this writing about the strange in the Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Don't already have an Oxford Academic account?

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Fiction and Its Phantoms: A Reading of. Freud's Das Unheimliche (The "uncanny"​). Helkne Cixous. THESE PAGES ARE MEANT as a reading divided between.


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