Richard Powers’s Generosity: An Enhancement (2009): Transhumanism, Metafiction and the Ethics of Increasing Human Happiness Levels through Biotechnology
AbstractThis paper analyzes Richard Powers’s Generosity: An Enhancement (2009), a self-reflexive novel in which Powers explores some of the possibilities and challenges of increasing human happiness levels through biotechnology. As this work sets out to show, Powers’s greatest success in the novel may be his choice to adopt certain conventions typical of metafiction to provide a fervent critique of this pressing issue. Drawing mainly from Waugh’s seminal work on metafiction, the present work analyzes how the different metafictional techniques Powers uses in Generosity combine with the transhumanist discourse on the possibilities that biotechnology opens up in order to create a happier population. Ultimately, this article argues that through building a self-reflexive narrative the writer calls the reader’s attention to the constructed character of the transhumanist view of happiness as an engineering problem. Accordingly, he presents an alternative view of happiness as a state of mind that can be achieved by being resilient in the face of our problems and by enjoying the here and now.
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Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Grant numbers PID2019-106855GB-100;;PID2019-106855GB-100