Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cordwainer Smith's Cruelty and Madness: or Jacque Lacan on a Planetary and Universal Scale - Pawel Stachura

"Paul M.A. Linebarger was a military expert in Far Eastern politics and in psychological warfare, active in many countries during World War Two and two post-war decades. At the same time, under different pseudonyms, he published two remarkable psychological novels and many acclaimed science fiction stories. The present paper focuses on thematic similarities between Linebarger’s politics, psychology, and fiction. Importantly, Linebarger’s treatment of barbarism, madness, bodily mutilation and disfigurement is uncannily similar to certain tenets of Jacques Lacan’s psychology. Given Linebarger’s incredible biography, wide travelling, excellent education, and insider knowledge of American special operations, his imaginative fiction can be treated as a philosophy of world supremacy, or at least a mad gloss to American power politics in the early decades of the cold war.
Cordwainer Smith, science fiction, psychological warfare
This is a discussion of more and less exact similarities between three bodies of writing: Cordwainer Smith’s science fiction, Felix C. Forrest’s mainstream psychological novels, Paul M.A. Linebarger’s works on international politics and psychological warfare. These texts were written in the two decades after World War 2, are all thematically related to American hegemony in the world, and were written by the same person: Smith and Forrest are two pseudonyms of Linebarger, a political scientist, intelligence and propaganda expert, who wrote highly original science fiction, published mostly in the 1950s and the 1960s. Even a superficial reading of Smith’s and Forrest’s fiction is enough to see the influence of Linebarger’s incredibly interesting biographical background, including his work for the American military. The intention of the paper is not to psychoanalyze the fiction, or the work for the military, but to show striking similarities between the vocabulary used by the American writer and the paradigm developed by Lacan at the same time.1"

4 out of 5

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