2020 | 35(2) | 89-108
Article title

Between sacrum and simulacrum: the space of chaos in Jacek Dukaj’s novella The Cathedral

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The author of the article analyses Jacek Dukaj’s science fiction novella The Cathedral (2000), which inspired the famous animated short film released under the same title in 2002. The eponymous pseudo-building was founded on the grave of Izmir Predú, a man who has sacrificed himself to save his travel companions’ lives. It is built using programmed nanoparticles and has formed itself – chaotically – into a cathedral-like asymmetrical, fractal structure. The novella’s main character, a Catholic priest, has been sent onto a planetoid to validate rumours about Predú’s holiness. The author of the article argues that the process of incarnating the protagonist into the Cathedral’s body leads him to the point of holistic transformation of the body, psyche and knowledge, similar to technological singularity, which is indistinguishable from a mystical, religious act. It is limited to earthly life, though, and brings the risk (as a transhuman act) of losing humanity. Jacek Dukaj offers the reader a few clues, but they are inconclusive. The reader’s interpretative hesitance therefore mirrors the protagonist’s ambiguous transformation. There is no reason to name the novella a religious one, although transhuman messianism plays an important role in it.
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