English Abstracts 2/2000



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Abstracts translated by Urpo Kovala

  • Olli Löytty, Beyond stereotypies. Comics and the politics of representation
    Cartoonists have a number of "difference foregrounding strokes" available to them, which help the reader e.g. to recognize the "race" or social group in question. A stereotype is easy to draw. Storylines, too, tend to follow familiar patterns. The Other of comics would seem to be doomed to fall into one of the few roles available for him among Western narratives: the threatening savage, the walk-on character decorating an exotic scene, or the faithful sidekick. However, comics also show instances of how reductive signifiers and conventionalised storylines can be turned against themselves. The article ponders on what happens when a stereotype is detached from its established meanings.

  • Sari Kuuva, Pig energy. Juba Tuomola's cartoon Viivi and Wagner and the blurring of gender differences
    Juba Tuomola's cartoon "Viivi and Wagner", which won him the annual prize of the Finnish Comics Society in 2000, has gathered a broad fandom in Finland. This article analyses the way the cartoon blurs gender differences. The writer draws on Hélène Cixous' ideas on gender hierarchies as defined and sustained by patriarchal culture. The focus of the article is on the gender identity of the pig figure Wagner. He rebels against the hero-centred manhood of patriarchal culture in many ways. His masculinity is rather of the antiheroic kind. Although Wagner is extremely manly in his own straightforward hillbilly way, he shows many feminine features as well. His double figure as a man-pig as well as his occasional slipping into the role of henpecked husband also contribute to the blurring of gender hierarchies. And a further addition to Wagner's image is brought in through the association with the composer Richard Wagner.

  • Mikko Laaksonen, Virtual Subjects - Artificial Intelligences and the Copies of the Human Mind in Cyberspace in William Gibson's novel Neuromancer
    The fast development of computers and computer networks raises the question about computer intelligence. Is it possible to program an artificial intelligence able to function in culture like a human being? Could the human consciousness even be copied on a computer? Such artificial intelligences do exist in the cyberspace presented in William Gibson's novel Neuromancer (1984). Two dead friends of the novel's main character, Case, have been recreated as computer simulations, his girlfriend Linda Lee and his mentor, Dixie Flatline. The artificial intelligences Wintermute and Neuromancer are also important characters in the novel. Research on artificial intelligence has shown that it is difficult, maybe impossible, to construct an artificial intelligence able to function like a human being in the physical and cultural reality. However, in Neuromancer the copies of the human mind and the artificial intelligences are able to create an illusion of subjectivity through acting in the mathematically organized cyberspace. Neuromancer leaves open the question whether the virtual subjects are intentional and experiencing subjects in the phenomenological sense, or just imitations of subjectivity enabled by existing only in the cyberspace. (translated by author)
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