Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 767 (Tidbits)

The topic of the Day 767 post on THE 800 DAYS blog is "Cyberpunk...As a Religion?"

Basically, Cyberpunk is a sort of lifestyle or a sub-culture...and it's also a science fiction media genre (lit, film, art) but on THE 800 DAYS blog, Cyberpunk is talked about in terms of religion. It's a lifestyle full of computers, gadgets, computer lingo, etc.

In the Cyberpunk science fiction genre, Cyberpunk is generally a blend of "cybernetics" with "punk," and as such, incorporates a mix of information technology and advanced science (cybernetics) with at least some marked degree of breakdown in (punk) in the social order, possibly a radical change in social hierarchy and social controls.

Artificial Intelligence, Hackers and Mega-Corporations tend to be subjects/themes in Cyberbunk culture and in the plot of cyberculture novels and film, generally a power struggle is acted out, usually between an extreme underdog versus (cyberpunk) a mega-corporation or the extreme whole of society itself. Sometimes the actions is with the cyberpunk group versus the authorities which uphold a certain, rigid dominant ideology of the society. The underdogs rely largely on outwitting the authorities with monumentally outstanding displays of technological know how - fantastic, speedy knowledge and work with or via computers, gadgets, etc., and usually the underdogs use the megacorporation's or the society's most highly acclaimed tech gadgets against the megacorp' or society...sort of a "using their own weapons against them" deal.

Much of the cyberpunk lit out there is definite and impressive social commentary against power, oppression and control and there are rarely any ambiguous statements made when cyberpunk is the genre used to embed social commentary messages in text or film. The message is clear "you megacorps and corrupt societies will NOT gain control of everything."

So, Blake asserts, on The 800 Days blog, that Cyberpunk can actually be thought of in terms of a religion. I keep preferring to say "lifestyle," however, points made on the 800 Days blog are pretty strong, so I have to concede that maybe "lifestyle" isn't the best descriptor for those who are extreme cyberpunks. Not to mention the fact that Blake mentions:

"The technology has a spirit of its own, as valid as the spirit of any creature of the goddess. This is the spiritual force we, those who are called technopagan, feel and must express. Not surprisingly, we find ways of bringing technology into our worship."

I suppose that in much of the cyberpunk literature - especially lit and film that is "future-based" the technologies, items, computers, etc., are shown as transforming society and cyberpunks are shown as "doing the impossible" through sheer human effort of mind, along with extreme expertise and knowledge of how to make gadgets perform in ways nobody would expect or assume gadgets could ever perform... essentially, the cyberpunks are extraordinary and they make machines do surprising, extraordinary tasks.

In all of this, we can definitely see a parallel between the cyberpunk and "the faithful" of many religions - who all intend to persevere through what ails in this world. There are parallels between the cyberpunk making a machine/gadget do the impossible - and the pagan working his/her magic which is either forbidden in society or said to be impossible in soceity.

Reading the Day 767 post lead me to do some searching for examples of "cyberpunk-ness" and I turned up the short story called "Cyberpunk" in my searches. It's an interesting little short story and the author, Bruce Bethke, is credited with having coined the term "Cyberpunk" via his short story title of the same name. The story is entertaining and is available all over the place online.

Here's a handy link:  it's from Bethke's own site and you'll find a free pdf of the Cyberpunk story that is readily downloadable.

Well this is all for now... I actually want to read that Cyberpunk story one more time - it's got some sub-culture lingo that gave me a little trouble during the last read-through...

The Day 767 post is associated with Sunday November 14 2010 in the 800 Day Countdown.

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