This final part of my essay on Blade Runner and Asperger’s syndrome moves into more speculative areas and draws on linguistics and literary theory to examine how Blade Runner and postmodern texts in general present as autistic.
In “Part 1: Autistic Noir” I described the traits associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (e.g. linguistic and social deficits, a marked lack of affect, and difficulties with cognitive empathy) and showed how each of these traits is presented by the characters in Blade Runner. In “Part 2: The Neurodivergent Worlds of Philip K Dick” I looked at Dick’s original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) in the context of his other work of that period, his deepening interest in the dramatic and philosophical possibilities presented by different neurotypes, and how his work prefigured the more modern work of autism specialists like Simon Baron-Cohen and Uta Frith.
In this chapter I hope to take the affinity between Blade Runner and Asperger’s further still by exploring the deeper waters of postmodern theory and neuroscience.
The following argument is complex so I’d like to layout the stages in advance.
- Firstly, I want to argue that Aspies have a preference for metonymy over metaphor, and that the reasons for this can be understood in terms of current research into neuroscience.
- Secondly, I will argue in favour of Damien Broderick‘s contention in Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction (1995) that science fiction is a genre – or mode – which privileges metonymy over metaphor.
- Thirdly, I will look at the analysis of postmodernism proposed by literary theorist Frederic Jameson in Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) to propose correspondences between postmodern texts and what I’ll call the Autistic Mode of expression.