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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The American Adams and Eves : gender, simulacra, and post-history in the eco-dystopian landscapes of West Coast literature Simpson, William David


The protagonists in eco-dystopian literature are Adams in the city and usually have adversarial interactions with the Eves in the city who are depicted in the texts as tempting them to eat the metaphorical apple, destroying nature in pursuit of wealth and the placation of women. This relationship leads men to act in ways that are, paradoxically, destructive to the species, yet necessary for the short-term propagation of their own genetic line. In fact, this relationship, in which men are encouraged to attain material wealth, much of it with no actual intrinsic value or practical purpose, at the expense of the natural environment, is the cause of the eco-dystopian landscapes these texts depict. The subconscious knowledge of this paradox places extreme stress upon the psyches of men, and the results of this stress play out in the noir, cynicism, and male-centeredness of eco-dystopian literature. Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep lets us see an eco-dystopian world through the eyes of Detective Marlowe, a private detective who is keenly wary of femme fatales and who, at least in this text, manages to avoid the snares of multiple women. Douglas Coupland's Generation X achieves a similar effect by delivering a narrator who is very close to being devoid of gender. In sharp contrast, at least from the perspective of gender, Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club may very well be the most masculine text ever written, and Tyler Durden may very well be the most hyper-masculine character. This text actually portrays the literal split of a male mind, so traumatized by the constant pressure to destroy in order to profit, that it creates a separate personality, one that does not obey the male gender role. Lastly, William Gibson's Neuromancer explodes the whole dilemma by not just disobeying the male gender role, but by actually abandoning what is male altogether - that being the physical body. The main character, Case, has developed a distain for his own flesh, and desires to escape it and exist within the matrix, a computer generated cyberspace in which a human consciousness can exist outside the confines of flesh.

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