The Bourne Tragedy:
Lost Subjects of the Bioconvergent Age

Debbie Epstein, Deborah Lynn Steinberg


This paper examines the Bourne trilogy to explore several characteristics of what we term the bioconvergent age. First, we consider the imagined and actual interfaces of bioconvergence—of body, gadgetry, and electronic communications. We explore the ways in which the bioconvergent tendencies represented in and by Bourne reflect and cultivate a cultural unconscious deeply seduced by and imbricated in surveillant governmentality. Second, we consider the ways in which the trilogy achieves its effects through the deployment of both hyperrealism and verisimilitude. In this context, we explore the filmic interpellation of audiences into a fantasy of omnipotence and omni-science, on the one hand, and the underlying phantasy of a zero-sum world that uncouples morality from affect, on the other. Thus, we consider the ways in which Bourne articulates two interlinked phenomena—a distinctively American romance with the sociopathic/heroic subject and a paranoid, dystopic world that is and seems seductively real. Our third theme is the Bourne journey through an obsessional spiral of paranoia, action, and reaction. Here we explore the trilogy as a social description of the expulsive and retentive tendencies of the bioconvergent age, where the demand for instantaneity drives out all other considerations (morality, reason, connection) and where the lost subject, in his interminable quest for himself, remains lost.


bio-convergence; bioconvergence; cyborg; film studies; biopolitics; biopower; governmentality; automatonic; cultural psychoanalysis; Bourne

Full Text: