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Prelude

The Obsolescence of the Human
  • Bill Brown

Abstract

“How boring to be human.” The sentiment seems to have provoked a sustained, highly publicized mass-cultural fixation on the more and the less than human. On zombies, for instance, as exemplified by the latest over-the-top zombie apocalypse film, World War Z (2003), starring Brad Pitt.1 On aliens, most adroitly deployed by Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp in District 9 (2009).2 On vampires and werewolves, most famously dramatized by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight romances, the first of which appeared in 2005. Bella Swan falls in love with the vampire Edward and befriends the werewolf Jake Black, who himself suffers the unreciprocated hots for Bella. (Edward, like all Meyer vampires, sparkles in the sun. If nothing else makes you envious, this should.) The books have been translated into almost forty languages, and they have been transposed, famously, into an equally popular series of films, The Twilight Saga, a total of five movies across four years, 2008–2012. Twilight is a publishing and Hollywood phenomenon not seen since … well, not since J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the first novel published in 1997, the last film screened in 2011, a series where mere humans endure the fate of being diminished to “muggles.”

Keywords

Object World Inanimate Object Political Ecology Object Ecology Real Estate Broker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 76–77. Further references will be provided parenthetically. All but needless to say, there is considerable philosophical slippage throughout Bogost’s book (which casually moves between ontology and phenomenology, practical ethics and metaphysics), but that is not my concern here.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 4.
    Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle ofPopulation ( New York: Penguin, 1983 ), 71.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Bernard London, Ending the Depression through Planned Obsolescence (New York: Bernard Landon, 1932), 3. Further references will be provided parenthetically.Google Scholar
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    Giles Slade, Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence inAmerica(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006 ), 72–77.Google Scholar
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    See Regenia Gagnier, The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 ).Google Scholar
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    Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact, trans. Chris Turner (London: Bloomsbury, 2005), 87. Further references will be provided parenthetically.Google Scholar
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    Vance Packard, The Waste Makers (New York: lg Publishing, 2011), 19. For Packard’s particular response to Brooks Stevens, see page 66. Further references will be provided parenthetically.Google Scholar
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    Bruno Latour, The Politics ofNature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 71, 76. See also Bruno Latour, “Objects Too Have Agency,” in Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 ), 63–82.Google Scholar
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    Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-NetworkTheory ( New York: Oxford University Press, 2005 ), 82.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Babette B. Tischleder and Sarah Wasserman 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Brown

There are no affiliations available

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