CNR 2013: Lectures: Louis Armand (AUS)

Louis Armand directs the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory in the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University, Prague. He has edited Contemporary Poetics (Northwestern, 2006), Avant-Post: The Avant-Garde under 'Post-' Conditions (LPB, 2006) and Hidden Agendas: Unreported Poetics (2010).

He is the author of Literate Technologies: Language, Cognition, Technicity (2006) and Event States: Discourse, Time, Mediality. Armand is the author of seven collections of poetry and five novels, most recently Breakfast at Midnight (2012) and Canicule (2013), both from Equus (London).

His work has been included in the Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry and Best Australian Poems and a screenplay, Clair Obscur, received honourable mention at the 2009 Alpe Adria Trieste International Film Festival. He edits VLAK magazine.

Abstract: Slaves of Reason? Perversion among the Robots
"Perversion is in the unconscious of the neurotic as phantasy of the Other" - Jacques Lacan

There is a memorable scene at the end of Ken Russell's 1975 film Lisztomania, in which Richard Wagner is transformed into a Nazi "golem" rampaging through the Jewish ghetto like some archaic monster-machine. In the film, the ghetto and the world at large is saved by a celestial spaceship (a utopian machine) piloted by an angelic Franz Liszt, who blasts this "golem" with pipe-organ laser guns. Russell's kitsch extravaganza is something like a last appeal to a humanism after the fact.

Between Capek's RUR and the Nazi State extermination machinery, humanism discredits itself along with all the rest of the enlightenment project. The robot or android henceforth represents not the acme but the ambivalence of human "perfectability." We have come full circle with the Frankenstein-effect and the anxiety arising from the machine-invention that learns to do without us.

By the time of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner any appeal to a humanism appears entirely fantastical. What remains, however, is the perennial question: Who is master, who is slave? Progress of course implies a certain human obsolescence in the technological equation - the problem is how to manage progress so as to transcend obsolescence without succumbing to the Blade Runner moment, when we all begin to suspect that we're in fact replicants, machines with a nostalgia for our so-called creators. But after all, isn't this, precisely this, the truth of the human condition?

Louis Armand

[image source: Ken Russel, Louis Armand]
[source: Vive Les Robots!]

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Cafe Neu Romance 2013:
Films & AV


Louis Armand

Louis Armand directs the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory in the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University, Prague.

Slaves of Reason? Perversion among the Robots
In Prague, during the Cafe Neu Romance festival, Louis Armand will presents his lecture "Slaves of Reason? Perversion among the Robots", Saturday 30 November at Galerie NTK.

Galerie NTK
Technická 6
16080 Prague.