In chapter three, ‘Imaginary Media: Mapping Weird Objects’, Parikka outlines the various approaches to imaginary media, touching on Lacan and Foucault specifically. I was intrigued by the Lacanian lens which posited that imaginary media could be used to envision a more cohesive culture, an idealized technological society. While Parikka favors a Foucauldian reading of imaginary media, I think the Lacanian lens has interesting applications not mentioned by Parikka. For instance, I think one could focus on technology in speculative fiction, rather than failed inventions or unrealized concepts. So, while a phone that allows communication with the dead certainly points to an idealized world where not even death can prevent the flow of information and human connection, I think analyzing future prognostication in literature is a more interesting way to study myths of social cohesion, as well as the discourses of power at work.
In particular, Hugo Gernsback’s science-fiction is a hyper-realization of the technologically informed discourses present in his own time. The limitless possibility of movement, communication – as well as a sanitized, racially homogenous social make-up – are all critiqued by William Gibson in his short story, ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, an explicit treatment of imaginary media. Idealized media as a tool for strengthening existing discourse can also be seen in such ‘present-futures’ as The Jetsons, and even the more egalitarian Star Trek: The Next Generation. As we continually pass the dates at which such idealized futures were supposed to take-place, we can see the transformation or erosion of the social models these futures sought to empower.