Dead Planet XLI

“What to do with these multiple
permutations, in which the return
of the same is always different?
The pseudo-couple, to be sure,
traces an august (if ridiculous
lineage) all the way back (via
Flaubert) to Don Quixote…”
—Frederik Jameson, “Pseudo-Couples”
LRB 20 November 2003

This jump we’ve made between James and SETI—what kind of “Otherness” is happening here? What are the dimensions and limits—of such a Phenomenon?

Is it the kind of otherness George Clooney experiences in “Solaris” (2002)—with Natascha McElhone his supposedly dead wife in her various guilt-inducing Solarian klones? Is this the same kind of Otherness we’re talking about—as far as SETI is concerned?

If Alien-ness is beyond human comprehension—how can human/alien contact actually happen? Surely James is pretty close to the truth—it’s done supernaturally through another dimension?

The same with Tourneau—and the contact with the Voodoo Zombie Land of the Dead? Is it approximated or partially accomplished by means of a human analog to the alien Other—as with Tourneur and his ancient Afro-Haitian-Caribbean voodoo version that flows through his black & white, neo-noir plot of a Zombie world embedded in a Western sugar plantation decadent analog world?

The same with “Solaris”—the Phenomenon interfaces with Clooney the psychologist temporally through something familiar and erotically simpatico? Cloning itself as Natascha his suicidal, born-again, over-and-over-again wife—returning again and again to him until he finally gets it? His guilty consciousness assuaged somehow—aided by Solaris like some celestial alien counselor? Just as perhaps Kidman, Sandra Dee and Deborah Kerr eventually get it—the fact that the Other has entered their lives?

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