REPRESENTATIONS OF THE DYSTOPIAN OTHER(NESS) IN MARGARET ATWOOD’S ORYX AND CRAKE

Being different marks distinctiveness in plurality, especially in a homogenous society. But can this hypothetic difference operate on an internal level? Can the subject perceive a distinctive “I” in the own sense of self? The figurative implications behind these initial assumptions and rhetorical questions about otherness and selfhood signal a concetual shift to the sphere of philosophy. Emphasizing the philosophical repercussions of the concept of Otherness, this paper focuses on exposing the meanings of the notion in connection with identity and selfhood. Accordingly, the critical skeleton of the paper is delineated by Emmanuel Levinas’ analytical thinking and ethical remarks on the notion of Otherness. Starting from the rimbaudian philosophy of the “other” (“I is an Other”), the focus will be on the different connotations on the self in contemporary ethics. Following Levinas’ and other theoreticians’ lines of thought, the focus gradually shifts to the applicability of their theories to the concrete textual dimension. As for Oryx and Crake, in order to better understand the rise of the dystopian fiction and its significance, an insight into the theoretical conventions of Postmodernism is necessary. Contrasting the Postmodern worldview with the Modernist poetics, the change of perception on the issue of the Otherness becomes clearly perceivable. Concepts and phrases such as “defamiliarization”, “dedublation”, “self-transcendence”, “artificiality”, “digital clones”, “denied Other”, “technological apocalypse” occupy a crucial role in deciphering Atwood’s otherness(es). More specifically, using these concepts, I will argue that there are three main manifestations of Otherness in the novel: the Other as doppelganger, the denied Other, and the digitalized embodiments of Otherness. All these variations reflect a peculiar aspect of the dystopian narrative. Therefore, uncovering the mystery of Otherness in Atwood’s masterpiece also becomes a personal journey towards understanding the aesthetics of atypicality in dystopian fiction.

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