Chapter Six: The Uncanny

Table of Contents

The postal multitude is a multitude. Negri and Hardt argued that the multitude makes movement through postmodern networks possible. This chapter considers the subject of the multitude as that of an information society.

At the end of 20th century, the term “cyberspace,” first introduced by William Gibson in his influential piece of science fiction Neuromancer (1984), carried much influence in discourse on information societies. The term created the illusion that the Internet was something like a single cohesive space. Coupled with its tendency to create misunderstandings about the basics of an information society, this illusion gave rise to a form of political euphoria. This was because cyberspace was viewed as the new frontier – or new America – of capitalism. John Perry Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace in 1996 is an example of such euphoria.

In this study, I argue that we cannot grasp the essence of an information society with the use a spatial metaphor; rather, I contend that it should be theorized with the Freudian concept of the uncanny. The subject of an information society should not be described as an avatar in cyberspace but as that being ensconced in the uncanny. On the one hand, I find its literary expression in the works of a science fiction writer from the generation before Gibson: Philip K. Dick. On the other hand, I describe its psychoanalytical structure through a rereading of Lacanian theory. My conclusion is that the subjectivity of an information society can be schematized as the construction of two stratified identities, where his or her imaginary identity is made to coexist with his or her symbolic identity on a single world screen, in other words, an interface. More concretely, the coexistence of imaginary identity with symbolic identity refers to the state of a single subjectivity simultaneously receiving two different messages mediated through both images and symbols (language). We can model this on a viewer’s experience with Nico Nico Doga, something I discussed in detail in General Will 2.0 (2011; Eng. 2014).