Simulacra in Chinese Literature

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  • Topic: Cyberpunk, Simulated reality, Philip K. Dick
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Cyber3: Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberpunk, and Science Fiction.

Figures of Simulacra and Virtual Trauma in Chilean Cyberpunk: Jorge Baradit’s Ygdrasil

Juan Ignacio Munoz
Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Abstract
In Traversing Virtual Spaces (2006), Martin Holz shows how a consideration of trauma can open up a whole new field of inquiry in cyberpunk and cyberculture studies, relating the central notions of the body, memory and subjectivity, in a new interdisciplinary perspective. One of the most interesting questions posed by Holz is that of the correlation between virtuality and trauma. For example, he writes that virtuality can be a way of controlling or neutralizing traumatic events, and that these events can produce a specific jouissance in contemporary subjectivities. Keeping these observations in mind, it is necessary to take into account of the socio-political context in which cyberpunk narrative is created, not only in the industrial and liberal democracies (as it is the case in almost all of mainstream cyberpunk fiction), but also in other geopolitical places in order to widen the scope of possible virtual traumas studies. For instance, one can ask these questions: how does cyberpunk virtuality help in confronting the collective traumas of a post-dictatorial society? What are the strategies of cyberpunk fiction in the context of a reinstalled democracy? And what kind of jouissance is produced in the fictionalization of postcolonial trauma?

I will to try to answer to these questions in my presentation on the Chilean cyberpunk novel Ygdrasil (2005) by Jorge Baradit. Post-dictatorship and democratic reconciliation are topics that have marked Chilean literature in last two decades, including science fiction. However, Ygdrasil integrates specific cyberpunk elements in this national agenda of trauma. Ygdrasil settles unusually topologies of virtual trauma that must be explored: the possibilities of a vernacular aesthetics of cyberpunk and the dismembered woman body as a new figure of political cyborg.

Juan Ignacio Muñoz Zapata
Conference Paper

Figures of Simulacra and Virtual Trauma in Chilean Cyberpunk: Jorge Baradit’s Ygdrasil

I will plan to study the representation of virtuality and trauma in the novel Ygdrasil (2005) by Jorge Baradit. Virtuality, as I will use in this paper, consists in a series of contemporary representations of innovations brought in by computer science, to a cultural code of mediation (simulacra), and a particular conception of space (virtual space). In the first portion of this work, I will study the different types of virtuality which offer themselves in the creation of a Chilean Cyberpunk and, with the analysis of the novel Ygdrasil, I will see which of these adapt the best. Once having determined the virtual implements, I will continue with a confrontation of the theories on trauma in Cyberpunk based on the traumatic figure of the “perras”1. The “perras”, as they appear in the novel, are mutilated women who are sold as merchandise in the outskirts of Santiago de Chile. In this way, by trying to join virtuality and trauma in the final section of the first part of the chapter, I will discuss the idea expressed by Martin Holz in Traversing Virtual Spaces. Body, Memory and Trauma in Cyberpunk (2006), on virtual trauma: « an equivalent of psychophysilogical trauma that is not only induced in virtual space and by its entities and scenarios but that is also manifested and acted out in that space » (191).

The predecessors of the Chilean Cyberpunk and Ygdrasil

The appearance of the novel Ygdrasil (2005) by Jorge Baradit, as pointed out by the number of Science Fiction Studies dedicated to Latin American science fiction, made its mark in Chilean science fiction (Molina-Gavilán, Yolanda et al., 2007: 387). Along with the short stories “Reflejos” [“Reflection”] (2004) and “Exerion” (2005) by Pablo Castro Hermosilla2, Ygdrasil completes the formation of the...
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