Richard Calder: Dolls, Love, and Metamorphosis

Dead Girls by Richard Calder the main character describes his young lover – a doll, Primavera, a child queen and nanovirus makeover who (once human!) has become a machinic being in process, both impersonal and alien; and yet who knows the sublime arts of eros and pain, the ability to give pleasure and also death:

“Was she beautiful? No; like all her kind she possessed, not beauty, but the overripe prettiness that is the saccharine curse of dollhood. Beauty has soul. Beauty has resonance. But a dool is a thing of surface and plane. Clothes, make-up, behavioural characteristics, resolve, for her, into an idenity that is all gesture, nuance, signs. She has no psychology, no inner self, no metaphysical depths. She is the glory, the sheen of her exterior, the hard brittle sum of her parts She is the ghost in the looking glass, the mirage that, reaching out to touch, we find is nothing bu rippling air. She is image without substance, a fractal receding infinity, a reflection without source and without end. She is allure.”

One might pull apart Calder’s notions of Beauty, Selfhood, Soul, Objecthood, etc. and see in them the old liberal subjective and substantive notions of our ancient philosophical heritage. But how would our new philosophers see the doll? How would a Guattari and Deleuze who no longer believed in the depths, the soul, the object, but rather the subjectivation, the productive movement of process and becoming other… of the doll as a postitive force and metamorphosis in becoming other, becoming machinic?

What would happen in a world where nanotech suddenly crosses over the barrier between anorganic and organic existence? What happens if humans suddenly through biotech and nanotech suddenly become other, become machinic? How will we treat these crossovers? Will we treat them as a another species? Will we treat them like we do transsexual persons who choose to become other? Will we  accept them or ostracize them? As we open ourselves to the possibility of becoming other than the humans we have been during most of our evolutionary heritage how will we begin to accept or reject this? If we begin to reengineer ourselves, splice and edit our DNA/RNA and rescript the human genome toward health, intelligence, etc. what will this affect in our ethics, religious, and social spheres?

4 thoughts on “Richard Calder: Dolls, Love, and Metamorphosis

  1. A strong movement of bioconservatism. Already cyborgs have been attacked. Genuine novelty unsettles. It threatens aesthetic devices. Do the ancients get a fair hearing? Isn’t the truth of the ancients all too often a disregard of the substrate. The organism or the machine: mere mechanisms for rationality.


    • Obviously the post above is about Richard Calder… not a post addressing all these issues. Obviously to address all the issues you’ve brought up would entail either a book or a long post. I’d assume you are up to it and can perform such a feat on your site? I wasn’t trying to answer the full history of the ancients, the posthuman, the current malaise in culture and the sciences… tell the truth you can browse my site, do some searches, and find scores upon scores of posts that deal with various facets of the issues you’ve raised. 🙂


      • Not suggesting you’re answering all that. Just conversing. A little response to the questions. No daggers or damage intended. My own site is less ambitious than yours. Apologies for the poor tone in my reply.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 No problem, none taken… I get that way at times! I usually go write some short story and let my heteronyms battle it out. Yea, there is so much information overload its tough to keep up with everything one would like to say, do, cover, ramble on about… we all try the best we can!


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