Transhumanist desire and utopian tensions in David Cronenberg’s 'Crash'
Keywords:transhumanism, pornography, technology, the Ballardian
Transhumanism, predicated on the desire to make the world and the individual better through the use of already existing or soon to be developed human enhancement technologies, may be seen as an inherently utopian project. The future, as Nick Bostrom claims in his “Letter from Utopia”, is to bring as yet unknown pleasure and happiness. Transgressing the border between the human and the mechanical is the somewhat prophetic theme of David Cronenberg’s 1996 film Crash, based on the 1973 novel by J. G. Ballard. Employing the conventions of pornography, Cronenberg shows the fusion of the organic and non-organic and the desire which finds – or fails to find – its fulfilment in the mechanically enhanced environment. This essay analyses how Crash problematises the quintessentially utopian transhumanist concept of the human, focusing on the tensions between the utopian and dystopian and the potential benefits and discontents of technology.