The Arrival of Yonic Sci Fi and its heretical-hysterical becomings


Zurawska P & Fleming D (2020) The Arrival of Yonic Sci Fi and its heretical-hysterical becomings. MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture, Fall 2020 (September) (6).

The sci-fi mega text can be parsed as a historically white male cinematic genre, composed of films that are predominantly written and directed by men, about, and starring men, that chiefly hail male demographics. A structure that repeats itself at ever-smaller scalar levels; as evidenced by considerations of a fractalized subset of ‘first contact’ films where extra-terrestrials arrive on Earth, or else get discovered ‘out there’ by human explorers. Predictably, films where the alien contact is guided by a female lead constitute something of a minor trend. Recent female-led films concerned with extra-terrestrial encounters surface as attempts to unleash the molecular power of inhuman white femininity – otherwise trampled by the phallic demand for repeating sexual uniformity – in order to attain perception beyond the human condition. In this outing we turn our attention to how Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) utilises a material—or maternal—embodied encounter to explore and push thought beyond otherwise shuttered anthropocentric notions of identity. We suggest that as an immanent dynamic force Arrival begets the viewer to unleash impossible, feminine molecular intensities, by entering into a carnal relationship with the ‘mucosal’ film qua film. For the purposes of this experimental essay we further opt to align these major and minor modalities with what the philosopher Michel Serres identifies as the ‘Order of Mars’ and the ‘Order of Venus’ respectively. Significantly, we take the latter - harbingered by the arrival of extra-terrestrials within the film – and the former, expressed by the defensive territorialising forces embodied by the military and science subjugated to the State, as paralleling the domains of art and science respectively. In order to set up and outlay these two different enfolded modalities and structures as they find expression through the philosophical-film we employ a creative diagrammatic structure to help artificially separate out, or partition, the different Orders. Our stylistic choice is driven by the desire to envision how the politics of the imperceptible articulated by Arrival can be actualised by grounding them in a field of struggle between affective forces of Venus (potentia) and territorialising powers of Mars (potestas).

Output Status: Forthcoming

MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture: Volume Fall 2020 (September), Issue 6

Date accepted by journal11/08/2020