This essay examines the use of consumer electronics as an epistemology of human memory and experienced mental states in the 2003 film Paycheck, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1952 short story of the same name, as well as other popular media. Informed by my research in the history of the constitutive metaphors of cognitive science in the twentieth century, I conclude from cinematographic analysis that consumer electronics provide the metaphorical framework through which we often understand and represent human memory and cognition. Although brains are seen as similar to computers, the logic of the film insulates liberal human subjectivity from posthuman implications. By invoking electronic gadgets, the film not only produces Cartesian and consumerist separation between brain/hardware and mind/user, but it also begins a broader conversation about gadgets and American popular culture; gadgets are an enduring metaphorical configuration of humans and technology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


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pp. 333-356
Launched on MUSE
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