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The Faustian cyborg: Technology, subjectivity and the spirit of silent comedy in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

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Abstract:

This essay traces the tendencies of the cinema towards the cyborgist re-composition of a film’s characters, mise-en-scène, and spectatorship. It first discusses the early silent comedies of Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd in relation to Martin Heidegger’s exposition of technology as Gestell or Enframing, as essentially “a way of revealing” what we call material realities or truths that in modern times dovetails into the challenge to take these truths, submit them to manufacture, and order them into standing reserves. After arguing that the films of these comedians represent the cinematic apparatus as at once a simple, complex, and Rube Goldberg-style machine – while also reenacting its automaticity through the recursive functioning of certain slapstick routines – the essay moves on to consider Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) as an “emulator” of the workings of this sort of cinematic reflexivity as it connects up with advances in cybernetic technologies and information systems. The Shining serves as a tutor text of the re-versioning of the cinema into an intelligent machine, and this essay therefore recommends the counter-notion of Disenframing as a way of resisting certain agendas of the epistemo-technological regime that this machine instances, namely its reduction of the subject’s flesh to the status of a tool or instrument and its concentration of such “instruments” into a new form of standing reserve.

Keywords: Autopoiesis; Cyborg Subjectivity; Enframing; Silent Comedy; Stanley Kubrick; The Shining

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/iscc.1.3.351_1

Affiliations: Kennesaw State University

Publication date: September 19, 2011

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