P for Posthumanism
: Reading Pelevin in the ‘Age of Spiritual Machines’

  • Ekaterina B Gasparian

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)

Abstract

This dissertation offers a new approach to the works of the contemporary Russian writer Viktor Pelevin: from the perspective of posthumanism. Trans-/posthumanism is a salient trend stimulated by the techno-scientific advance and the resulting benefits of a disembodied condition. It seeks to redefine the notion of human and thus move away from the predominantly anthropocentric to a more inclusive posthuman society. I argue in my dissertation that such an approach makes it possible to reconcile the divergences in the existing critical reviews of Pelevin’s works because it illustrates how defying literary convention is, in itself, an artistic method aimed at developing a philosophical message. Merging the conventions of both ‘high’ and ‘mass’ literature and creating fluid imaginary realities in his works, Pelevin transcends the boundaries of literary form and thus illustrates the concept of disembodiment through his recurring theme of nothingness – ‘pustota’.

Pelevin experiments with the possibilities of transhumanism in two domains: genre and character. This research, therefore, looks at the ways he takes the notion of disembodiment to its extreme; it then analyses the philosophical message that these techniques help him to convey. By exposing the limitations of the human body and mind, the author topples the human being from his superior position, thus creating a case for a new, posthumanist vision. It is structured according to the disembodied experiences of the characters - perceiving life through instinct, intellect, and intuition – to better illustrate his key philosophical message. The dissertation mainly focuses on his writing from 1999 which marks his growing engagement with the theme: Generation П (1999); Sviashchennaia kniga oborotnia (2004); Empire V/Batman Apollo duology (2006/2013); t (2009); Ananasnaia voda dla prekrasnoi damy (2010), S.N.U.F.F. (2011), iPhuck10 (2017), and Tainye vidy na goru Fudzi (2018). It, however, also includes references to his earlier works, where relevant.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRajendra A Chitnis (Supervisor)

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