BLADE RUNNER 2049 (4): the strange void of subjectivity

“There is no subject without an incomplete Big Other” Slavoj Zizek

The original version of BLADE RUNNER had neither the voice over by Harrison Ford nor the happy end showing the escape in the car. Supposedly this open-ended approach was felt to be too confusing for the ordinary viewer, and the contextualising narration was added, along with the traditional Hollywood happy end, to give coherence to the montage. A visual summary of the different versions can be found here. Ambiguity and incompleteness are an essential part of the mode of enunciation of Ridley Scott’s film.

Denis Villeneuve’s sequel re-inscribes this ambiguity and incompleteness at the level of content. The replicants’ inserted memories are incomplete fragments, ambiguous and unreliable, yet, as we have seen, this messy aspect makes them real even though they are not “authentic”, or veridic.

K’s inquiry-cum-quest for closure reveals him to be even emptier than he thought. He is not only officially programmed for obedience and equipped with false memories, but his entire “secret”, the unofficial history that he uncovers is itself a fabrication. His whole identity is based on mis-recognition, without any more secure foundation. He discovers that it is mis-recognition all the way down.

The revelation that his previous “revelation” (that he was the first replicant born, not made) was false leaves him in a state of subjective destitution even more thoroughgoing than that of Rachael in the first film. This subjectivity as un-programmed void is what there is in replicants that is “more human than human”.

Deckard declares, to justify his abandonment of his and Rachael’s child “Sometimes to love someone, you gotta be a stranger”. This statement has more far-reaching import than he realises, as behind our familiar roles and cherished memories there is the strange void of our subjectivity. To be human is to be a stranger, to others as well as to oneself..

The true anamnesis is not the recollection of facts and anecdotes about one’s past life, nor the attainment of mutual recognition, nor the enlistment in a political struggle directed by dubious others and carried out by deluded militants, etc. but the discovery of this pure subjectivity void of content and the retroactive perception that it was present all along.

2 thoughts on “BLADE RUNNER 2049 (4): the strange void of subjectivity

  1. Pingback: DUNA PEDAGOGICA: notes on Villeneuve’s NEO-DUNE | AGENT SWARM

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