Over the past couple of years, I have observed here and there that simple antinomies like “linearity vs. non-linearity” and “top-down vs. bottom-up” and even “organic vs. inorganic” are increasingly unsatisfactory. I’m hardly the only one to say such a thing.
Nevertheless, students frequently furrow their brows at the notion of a network of selves, or the idea of consuming a narrative that accommodates dozens of different and contradictory arcs simultaneously and without effort. Pluralism, multiplicity. In Pierre Lèvy’s sense, this is a sort of “virtuality.”
The best example of the Old Guard mentality is popular science fiction from the 80’s. Star Wars fans were (and often continue to be) rabid defenders of “canonicity.” In the 90’s, fans of the Alien series were angered by David Fincher’s somewhat nihilistic Alien 3, which saw characters whom we had cheered throughout the 2nd film (including the adorable little orphan girl, Newt) perish during the opening credit sequence. Fincher also let Ripley assume the role of a female Christ, who labors among the untouchables, but eventually sacrifices herself (arms outstretched) and the gestating alien inside of her so that the world might spin on. Fincher’s science-gothic tale (think The Monk, or even Castle of Otranto) continues to be a sore spot, in spite of the three or four films that soldiered on.
Again: Old Guard. New Guard? Illicit fan edits of Star Wars; Bad Robot’s reboot of Star Trek (which we might call, after Sobchack, “the familiarization of the alien, and the alienation of the familiar”).
And now, this, via io9, via variety:
Jai Courtney talks about the film as a standalone entry in the franchise:
It’s not a reboot or a sequel or a prequel,” Jai told Variety. “It stands alone. We’re introduced to a world that we’ve seen before. However, when Reese is sent back to save Sarah Connor, something has happened in the process and everything has changed. All the information he has for the mission and the task at hand is different. Therefore, things have been reset and that’s where we move forward from. That’s about all I can say.
See? Multiplicities of mutually-exclusive but simultaneous worlds. This is the proliferation of the virtual. This is (Lèvy une autre fois) “Universality without totality.”