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Live YouTube webinar and presentation on“Science Fiction in an Age of Crisis”

Concept note of 2days seminar: By Dr. Saurav Sengupta/ Damdama College, Guwahati

The world as we know today stands at the crossroads of a crisis. This crisis is not only economic or social but environmental as well. With the mass excavation of natural resources be it coal, petrol and oil, the burning and felling of trees for industrial purposes and making of more technologically advanced cities- all life forms now stare at a bleak future. This risk is more accentuated with the melting of glaciers, which scientists believe would expose all ecosystems to deadly micro organisms.

A possible response in literature is to alert societies much in advance. Deane Koontz’s now famous book The Eye of Darkness predicted a biological weapon, close to the Covid 19 virus. Though his claim has been brushed off by scientists, who say that the virus originated in bats, it presented a gloomy picture of the techno-scientific optimism that accompanies global economies.

It also raised issues about how hyped medical research is driven by a reified science fictional imagery more than a genuine interest in democratic equalities. But did Koontz succeed and if not why? It must be understood here that one way for hegemony to work is to ‘push’ subjects to believe what they see or hear through an immersive audio-visual experience, in effect to turn them into zombies through “machinic subservience” (Félix Guattari). Can science fiction break this narrative train and how? 

Does this crisis also ask for a new mode of communication or an aesthetic of estrangement, as Brecht suggested in his theater of alienation?  An area that this concept note would seek to highlight is the interface between science fiction and contemporary art, when it depends on a rich assortment of natural materials and art forms for radical subversion.

Such a narrative of “alterity” then could engage with the Eurocentric bias of looking into a relation between man and machines, through machines and instead propose to look at this relation through humanity’s relation with the “paranormal” or “para-human.” Such an effort at difference can rupture the production of subjective traps of a hegemonic mainstream to inaugurate a supplement- non-violence etc, even an environmentalism of the poor.  

If you’re interested further, kindly see the full video of 2 days seminar.

My topic for discussion was “Importance of Science fiction in de-constructing the concepts of Transcendence”. You could refer the YouTube link given below. The time starts from 1.25.38

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