Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Among Vox's many explications of 50 Shade of Gray.
"Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it" German philosopher Martin Heidegger writes in "The Question Concerning Technology." When Christian binds Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey, he is literally enacting Heidegger's fears about the role of technology in the modern world. Throughout the film, Christian gifts Ana with increasingly advanced technology: a top-of-the line Mac, a shiny new car. Christian's technology is symbolic of Ana — a flip-phone user and classic Beetle driver — being pulled into Christian's modern world. This all a way of making Ana more knowable for Christian, more similar to him. And this is exactly Heidegger's worry about technology: that in a world where we become defined by our relationship with technology, we lose a sense of our authentic selves. "In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence," Heidegger writes. By being pulled into Christian's violent sexual world, so alien to Ana's own virginal experience, she loses sight of who she really is. But when she rejects Christian at the close of the film, she shows a way out of the trap created for us by technology. Her demand for her old car back as she abandons Christian symbolizes a desire for a return to an earlier mode of thought; Heidegger saw reviving "art" in its original Greek sense as the key antidode to technological enslavement. The busted-up Beetle, then, represents the tradition of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides.
What car would Heidegger drive? Authentic Bavarian ox-cart? I expect the next Black Notebooks shock will be his secret lust after a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Roadster.
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