DELEUZE AND ALIEN (3): the Gothic fable deterritorialised

Perhaps the archetypal example of the fusion we find in ALIEN between the Gothic, the techno-scientific, and the bio-deconstructive is Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. However, the film ALIEN is a much more abstract story, much more deterritorialised.

The equivalents of Victor Frankenstein are the Promethean android Ash, who opens the airlock, allows the creature to develop inside Kane, and sabotages the attempts to get rid of it; and also the Promethean Company, who are seeking the secret of inorganic life to exploit its military and commercial potential.

The human Frankenstein is deterritorialised into the faceless Company seeking the spark of inorganic life. The monster too is a faceless deterritorialised entity, pure embodiment of the life-force as such.

So the underlying matrix of the film is something other than Gothic. It is the project of a hypermodern inhuman bio-capitalism instantiated in the Company, for whom human beings are expendable tools in the pursuit of profit, to seize hold of a pure piece of the hyper-archaic non-human libido, instantiated in the alien.

Ultimately, I do not think ALIEN is a « Gothic » film, but something new emergent from the Gothic. On this hypothesis the superabundance of Gothic stereotypes and tropes are foreground packaging for something else. The Gothic is a container for the sublime that it transmits, but that it limits at the same time. It limits the infinites that it elevates above the subject, allowing the subject to extract some surplus pleasure in its separation from the sublime instance that it intuits but which it cannot fully represent.

ALIEN poses a limit to the sublime at the end. Ridley Scott originally envisioned an end where the alien kills Ripley and takes control of the shuttle. Instead, in the final version, after killing the monster Ripley drifts off into hyper-sleep, having maternally bonded with and saved the cat Jones. Appropriately the shuttle is named the « Narcissus » and self-identity’s hegemony has been restored.

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