Aesthetics & Identity in Blade Runner

Preface • The Gothic : Introduction • Gothic Aesthetic TechniquesTransgression and AbjectionTerror, Horror and the SublimeThe Gothic and the PostmodernBlade Runner : IntroductionPower in Blade RunnerReality in Blade RunnerDeath in Blade RunnerIdentity in Blade RunnerRestorationConclusionWorks Cited

The Gothic

Botting identifies the Gothic as ‘a hybrid form, incorporating and transforming other literary forms as well as developing and changing its own conventions in relation to newer modes of writing’ (14). His study of the history of the Gothic recognises its extraordinary potential to adapt with the times and the dominant artistic and social discourses and changes of the times, such as gender roles or advances in science, addressing and expressing the anxieties of its respective contemporary cultural situation.

Botting observes how the Gothic shadows ‘the progress of modernity with counternarratives displaying the underside of enlightenment and humanist values’ (2). The darkness and gloom of the Gothic is no coincidence; they counter the light of reason and order (32). The very nature of the Gothic‘s primary aesthetic, terror, is disruptive, destabilising, and deconstructive. The Gothic is ‘an examination of limits’ (8), capable of both contesting and restoring boundaries. Responding to a longing for order, unity, identity, security, simplicity, structure, and an objective, stable, verifiable reality and solid values in the face of disintegration, it has voiced the terrors of society, in the form of monsters, and restored equilibrium, by killing off the monster, but also challenged those longings and the coherence and validity of the structures they assume (7-9).

Thus the Gothic emerges as having a double-edged role in relation to culture: to voice, and define, the terrors and anxieties of its times, and to explore and give form to the source of those anxieties, and in doing so, exposing the fragility of the structures which we rely upon to keep the monsters at bay.

So why the continued revival or survivability of the Gothic? If Gothic transgressions and terror undermine our fundamental concepts of order, identity and reality and the structures which promise to, at least on the surface, to maintain stability, why do we come back for more?

© 2010, 2011, 2012, 2019 Kirstin Sørensen

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