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i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Your Utopia Is Obsolete

April 18, 2005

N. Katherine Hayles article, "Is Utopia Obsolete?" got me thinking: Hayles says that, "nano-technology provides material abundance virtually without cost" and I started thinking about how just about any school kid these days knows that nothing is ever really free...

click on a link for free smut pics and you've gotta give a credit card number, order a free cd from a marketing company and you gotta pay $5 for shipping, sign up for a free $50 restaurant gift card and your email inbox will be stuffed with junk emails for the rest of your life...

so I'm wondering, "How are the people in Neal Stephenson's 'Diamond Age' paying for their stuff?"

It seems to me that these people are paying for the convenience of their society with their souls, the very essence of their humanity, and their freedoms. Is it worth it? I doubt it.

Eventually, the body totally loses its value. Hayles writes, "... human skin no longer defines an autonomous individual with the right to self-identity and self-possession." Nell, who through her use of the primer has become an autonomous individual capable of free-thinking, is regarded by the adults in her society as a threat to their very way of life.

Nell has everything she could ever need, materially-speaking, but she is severely lacking in human characteristics: where is the love? she leaves the house of her mother with nary a second glance. she visits Harvey almost as an afterthought and though it touches her, it touches her mostly because she realizes Harvey's life could have very well been her own.

Through the primer, Nell has sacrificed all that which makes her human and become someone else's tool leading an army of "Chinese girls .. indoctrinated to form the massive Mouse Army whose main purpose in life is to rescue Nell." What life lies in wait for our hero? Will she ever been fulfilled as a person? One shudders to think about what happens next in this story. Certainly not a utopian society...

Moira at 02:50 PM :: Comments (0) :: ::
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