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Drácula, un acercamiento a la caracterización del personaje vampírico: Perspectivas narratológicas

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Abstract

This article deals with the following basic presuppositions: a) exposition of the modes of characterisation of the vampire character in its literary expression, beginning with one famous novel that has been the subject of numerous scholarly article and books, Bram Stoker's Dracula (the masterpiece of the vampire genre); and b) detailed analysis of the different characterisation processes attached to this transgressive being, all accompanied by the most important examples (literary quotations).
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B R U M A L
Revista de Investigación sobre lo Fantástico
B R U M A L
Revista de Investigación sobre lo Fantástico
B R U M A L
Research Journal on the Fantastic
Revista de Investigación sobre lo Fantástico
Research Journal on the Fantastic
Revista de Investigación sobre lo Fantástico
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/brumal.405
Vol. V, n.° 1 (primavera/spring 2017), pp. 393-396, ISSN: 2014–7910
Teresa López-Pellisa, Patologías de la realidad virtual: Ci-
bercultura y ciencia ficción, Fondo de Cultura Económica,
Madrid-México, 2015. ISBN: 978-84-375-0731-6. 15
The study that Dr Teresa
López-Pellisa presents is dedicated
to one of the most pressing issues of
our contemporary times, namely
the influence of virtual reality in our
daily lives.
Preceded by a compelling
prologue written by cyberculture
expert Naief Yehya, the book is
structured around two main sub-
jects: a conceptual definition and
historical overview of virtual reality
and an analysis of five central
«pathologies», as López-Pellisa calls
them, that are related to our use and
misuse of virtual realities.
The first section, «Propedéuti-
ca: aproximación teórica al concepto
de realidad virtual», starts with the
question that the book seeks to ad-
dress: what is virtual reality? As
López-Pellisa observes, the concept
of virtual space is very often used
loosely as a synonym of digital real-
ity. A clear definition between the
two allows her to develop the argu-
ment underlying her book: virtual
space is generated by our brain ac-
tivity, a space created by imagina-
tion, dreams and by any aesthetic
experience we engage with, such as
watching a film, observing a paint-
ing, opening a book and in general
grasping the imaginary realities
constructed by those fictional pro-
ducts. Digital reality, however, is a
type of virtual space, a subcategory
that is specifically created by the hu-
man being via technological tools.
In the numerous examples
López-Pellisa provides for both cat-
egories, she highlights the fact that
different environments will provide
different degrees of immersion and
interaction.
This conceptual distinction
leads her to trace a historical over-
view of what virtual reality has
meant since Plato to contemporary
times. The leitmotif that distin-
guishes the different stages are the
various technological tools that hu-
man beings have had at their dis-
posal to create the illusion of a reali-
ty. This section is particularly
important to provide further con-
text to the contemporary notion of
virtual reality as an immersive, in-
teractive environment. While it is
only in the twentieth century when
Reseñas
Brumal, vol. V, n.º 1 (primavera/spring 2017)
394
new technologies have made it pos-
sible for this type of virtual reality to
arise, López-Pellisa guides the read-
er through a very interesting jour-
ney in history through the tech-
niques that presented a radical
innovation of how reality could be
represented, such as the theatre of
shadows (invented in 121 BC), the
discovery of perspective in the Re-
naissance, the magic lantern, the
panorama and the fantascope in the
late eighteenth century, the stereo-
scope in the nineteenth century, the
cinematograph, the computer, the
hypertext and the internet. The final
parts of this section show that the
twentieth century has accelerated
the innovations virtual reality, in
terms of technological and conceptu-
al contributions (e.g. artificial reality,
cyberspace, artificial life, the CAVE
project, augmented reality, etc.).
Through this terminological
and historical journey, López-Pelli-
sa manages to establish a solid con-
ceptual foundation of the phenome-
na that will be explored in the
second part of her book.
In the following part, called
«Análisis: Diagnóstico de la reali-
dad virtual», the author seeks to
identify the different pathologies
that our immersion in virtual reali-
ties have created. Her diagnosis
reaches out to five conditions.
The first pathology is «nomi-
nal squizofrenia», which refers to
the use and abuse of terms that have
now become part of our everyday
vocabulary, such as cyberspace, fic-
tional worlds or virtual reality. This
category synthetises and develops
some of the main ideas featuring in
the previous section of the book.
Following Jean Baudrillard’s
take on postmodernity and provi-
ding examples of Borges’ fictions,
López-Pellisa diagnoses a second dis-
ease that refers to the multiplication
of simulacra that question what we
understand and perceive as real. An-
other conceptual distinction closes
this part: virtual metafiction vs. digi-
tal metadiegesis, both narrative de-
vices but only the latter has narrative
levels produced by digital technolo-
gy, again reminding the reader of the
difference between the virtual and
digital that articulates her argument.
The third pathology we suf-
fer as users of digital environments
concerns our body. How is the body
affected by our interaction with vir-
tual realities? This is the question
that leads to the third pathology:
«the ghost body». In it, López-Pelli-
sa discusses how new technologies
have colonised our body and thus
have prompted a reconsideration of
what means to be human. Implants,
cloned organs, prosthesis, plastic
surgery, androids with artificial in-
telligence are some of the elements
that increasingly question the
boundaries that distinguish a ma-
Brumal, vol. V, n.º 1 (primavera/spring 2017) 395
Review
chine from the human being. To es-
tablish her argument, the author
again recurs to a diverse range of
examples, including the film I am a
Cyborg, but that is OK (Park Chon-
wook, 2006), cyborg artist Neil Har-
bisson, Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cy-
borg Manifesto’ (1984), among
many others.
The fourth section deals with
the divine connotations that tech-
nology has acquired, leading to the
promise of a better afterlife in which
the foundations of some religions
resonate. It confers digital science
and its creators a divine role, since
they generate universes for us to in-
habit with the hope of a better (af-
ter)life, or a ‘techno-eternity’. This
pathology also raises serious ethical
questions concerning the implica-
tions of creating an eternal youth
and (at least for the moment) a ‘cy-
ber-immortality’ that overcomes
our organic-biological challenges.
The final pathology dis-
cussed by López-Pellisa has a signif-
icant feminist dimension. In what
she labels as ‘the Pandora syn-
drome’, the author establishes a
contrast between the Pygmalion
and the Pandora myth, which corre-
sponds to two models of women:
the passive angel in the house (a
woman created to love), and the
femme fatale (with seductive power
and destructive force). This is one of
the most interesting and original
sections in the book, since it traces a
gendered analysis of the construc-
tion of different artificial females in
literature and cinema and outlines
recurrent tropes that always lead
back to the dominant male gaze.
In Patologías de la realidad vir-
tual there are many aspects worthy
of admiration. López-Pellisa’s work
does raise several ethical and psy-
chological, sociological concerns
but it also hints at the positive po-
tential of new technologies, without
falling into the reductionist, cata-
strophist trap of thinking of technol-
ogy as the ultimate evil. The bibliog-
raphy and filmography are
exceptional sources of reference for
anyone interested in investigating
the subject of virtual reality. The
structure is clear, embracing termi-
nological definitions and a histori-
cal overview as well as analysis and
conceptualisation. It is in this last
part where, in my opinion, the book
clearly shows its original contribu-
tion to existing analyses of virtual
reality.
While the first part of the
book is a (probably necessary) aca-
demic exercise defining the bounda-
ries of the terminology employed,
this second section — with no less
rigour that the previous one - is dis-
tinctive for its creativity. One of the
major strengths of Patologías de la re-
alidad virtual is the ability to reduce
to a limited number of categories
Reseñas
Brumal, vol. V, n.º 1 (primavera/spring 2017)
396
the broad spectrum of effects that
our interaction with virtual realities
has on us. López-Pellisa provides a
convincing conceptualisation of five
«pathologies», five categories that
are explained with clarity and well
supported with a very wide range
of theories and cultural products.
The reader will surely recognise
himself/herself in some of the
pathologies described in the book.
Another important virtue of this
categorisation is that it does apply
to many existing cultural phenome-
na, as the author demonstrates,
while also being valid for further
films and literary books that have
been produced later. (While reading
this book, I could think of a few re-
cent examples, such as the TV-series
Black Mirror, and the films Her by
Spike Jonze, 2013, and Ex Machina
by Alex Garland 2015). This also
means that this book will surely
manage to stay relevant in the fu-
ture. Therefore, López-Pellisa’s
work has accomplished a major
challenge in the very rapidly chang-
ing field of virtual reality: the con-
ceptual apparatus provided by
López-Pellisa helps us better under-
stand past, present and future cul-
tural artifacts that surround our
everyday lives and that we some-
times consume without enough crit-
ical engagement. While more exam-
ples can be added to her argument
in the future years, the five patholo-
gies will surely still apply to a large
volume of cultural products.
There is perhaps something
that the reader might wonder when
s/he finishes reading Patologías de la
realidad. Is there a way to confront
these pathologies? The book finish-
es rather abruptly without a conclu-
sion. In this missing part - which
could have provided a more elegant
closure to the rich diversity of con-
cepts mentioned in the book - there
would have been plenty of room to
discuss, for example, the prognosis
of several pathologies that may
arise in the future, the potential mu-
tation of the pathologies outlined,
or, why not, the possible antidotes
that we, users immersed in virtual
reality, might have at our disposal.
Patologías de la realidad is a
stimulating and comprehensive
book that opens a rich ground for,
what we hope, future work by
López-Pellisa, on a subject in which
she has demonstrated to have clear
expertise.
Patricia García
University of Nottingham
dr.patricia.garcia@gmail.com
Chapter
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