Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Wired
Canadian director David Cronenberg has always been fascinated by technology, whether it’s the grotesque hand/gun hybrid in Videodrome or the fleshy ports in eXistenZ that allow gamers to plug directly into their spines.
That interest is fully on display in Cronenberg’s first novel, Consumed, a murder mystery which explores the way that YouTube and 3D printing are shaping our reality.
“I definitely belong on your blog,” David Cronenberg says in Episode 125 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I was definitely a geek. I don’t think I was a nerd, socially, but I was definitely a geek and loved technology.”
Consumed concerns a young couple, Nathan and Naomi, who travel the world in search of ever more scandalous material to post online. They text each other constantly but rarely meet face to face, masters of the digital world but strangely disconnected from the real one. The novel regards their peculiar fascinations and casual self-absorption with a dispassionate eye, refusing to judge, but one idea comes through clearly—these characters are a product of their environment.
“We have absorbed the internet into our nervous systems, and it has made us different,” says Cronenberg. “We are definitely different.”
The couple becomes entangled in the bizarre case of Aristide and Celestine Arosteguy, a pair of celebrity French philosophers, after video emerges suggesting that Celestine was murdered and eaten by her husband. As the byzantine plot unfolds, involving elements as varied as North Korean spies, venereal disease, and the Cannes Film Festival, we delve ever deeper into the hidden world of the Arosteguys, whose books bear titles like Labor Gore and Apocalyptic Consumerism. This is a novel whose attitude toward all forms of consumption, both literal and figurative, is deeply ambiguous, as befits its author.
“As a tech geek, part of me loves the devices that consumerism produces,” says Cronenberg, whose next film Maps to the Stars hits theaters early next year. “And at the same time, I can be very cold-blooded in seeing that yes, it’s quite possible that we are with our technology completely destroying the Earth, and that it’s just not going to last very long if we keep doing that.”
Listen to our complete interview with David Cronenberg in Episode 125 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (above), and check out some highlights from the discussion below.
David Cronenberg on the Arosteguys:
“It’s sort of an interesting French phenomenon, the hot philosophy couple, and it’s exemplified most by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who were both technically philosophers. … They also were very public intellectuals, which is something you don’t really see much in North America. They were definitely intellectuals who wrote sometimes very difficult philosophical works, but at the same time they were invited to—and did—comment on current affairs, on politics. They would take very extreme political stances, they would fight for certain political positions, and would also talk about French culture and world culture in general. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon, and very French in its style. Now you have Bernard Henri Lévy and his wife Arielle Dombasle, who’s an actress, but they’re sort of the current version of that kind of hot cultural spokespeople couple. Lévy comments on all kinds of controversial political events in France, and will take very extreme stands. He’s not afraid to put himself out there, and his wife will back him up, that kind of thing. So I just thought that was interesting. I like the idea of that kind of person.”