Cyberpunk poem envisions a future enhanced by holographic escorts.
Science fiction often explores how sexuality might unfold in futuristic worlds marked by disruptive technologies. IEET Affiliate Scholar B.J. Murphy takes us on an erotic journey through one such reality—one where he imagines finding solace, and complete immersion, in the arms of an artificial lover in his poem “Real Girl.”
You can listen to a reading of the poem in the video above, or click here to jump to the bottom of the article for the full written version.
We spoke to Murphy to get his take on whether the future will be as dark as his poetry and to learn about his motivation for writing the piece. As a Technoprogressive Transhumanist activist, we also wanted to discover more about the philosophy behind his position and what he thinks is necessary to build a positive future.
What is “Real Girl” about?
“Real Girl” is about what it would be like in a dystopian cyberpunk future where advanced technologies are being used to enhance and proliferate sexual experiences. In this case, you’re (the main character) hooking up with a holographic sex worker in a broken down hotel, which is specifically used for futuristic sexual escapades.
Not only that, the rest of the online world are taking advantage of drone technologies by using them as tech-enabled “peeping toms.” Essentially, the poem attempts to give people a look into one specific route of the future and how sex in itself will be enhanced and augmented as a result.
What is cyberpunk?
Cyberpunk is a subgenre of sci-fi which strongly emphasizes dystopian future scenarios, of which tend to carry one or more of these facets: underground biohacking, runaway artificial intelligence, corporate rule, space pirating, etc. Think of today’s current class war between the 99% and the 1%, only with VR, cybernetics, and gene editing. Though, despite these dystopian scenarios, most cyberpunk literature that I know of equally provides a sense of hope near the end of it all—a light at the end of a long and dark tunnel.
What was your inspiration to write “Real Girl”?
My inspiration largely grew from my fascination of cyberpunk sci-fi. I grew up watching that specific subgenre, in particular films and shows like Ghost in the Shell, Akira, A.D. Police, etc. So I really wanted to write a poem which sort of resonated with that subgenre.
I was also inspired to write this poem because of an equal fascination of mine and that is the future of sex. I’ve written about this particular subject before from a nonfiction standpoint, but I also wanted to explore this subject from a fictional standpoint as well. As a writer of poetry for several years—since I was a small child—I felt that poetry would be the best platform to explore a subject such as this. Thus “Real Girl” was born.
Why did you choose to write about a dystopian cyberpunk future instead of a hopeful or positive one? Is this where you see the world going?
Well, as I said, I grew up watching cyberpunk sci-fi. So I really wanted to write a poem under the very genre which got me interested about the future in the first place. Though, despite my love for cyberpunk sci-fi, I don’t actually see the world heading in this particular direction. It certainly has the potential to, but I have a lot of hope and optimism for the future.
I just have a tendency of writing dark poems, whether they’re about the future or are sexually explicit (or both), simply because I enjoy them. I feel like they have a much deeper connection in relaying those raw emotions which tend to linger in the back of your mind, no matter how optimistic you might be of life itself. I have an entire blog which catalogs all of my recent poetry, called My Darkest Futurescape.
On your IEET Affiliate Scholar profile, you describe yourself as a Technoprogressive Transhumanist activist. Can you explain what this means and how it influences your life?
Technoprogressivism had arisen as a sort of response to the Techno-libertarian mindset that used to dominate the Transhumanist community during the ’90s and early first decade of the 21st century. Rather than an emphasis on extreme individuality, deregulated markets, and little-to-no governmental regulatory oversight in technological developments, we Technoprogressives took on a politically leftist approach of Transhumanism—the ideal of transcending biology via science and technology—by strongly emphasizing on a healthy and safe collaboration of both individuality and collectivity, properly regulated markets of the future, and sensible governmental regulatory oversight in future technological developments.
You can read more about the differences between Technoprogressives and Techno-libertarians on IEET’s website. To be a Technoprogressive Transhumanist, however, you’re essentially pushing the leftist political spectrum well into the future to accommodate whatever Transhuman conditions that might arise. Which is why Technoprogressives tend to vary among leftist ideologies, i.e. Liberals, Social Democrats, Anarchists, Democratic Socialists, and Marxist Socialists.
As a socialist myself, who dedicated several years of my past to organizing and fighting side by side with the working class, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and diverse low-income communities, there’s a reason why I resonate with the growing Technoprogressive movement within the Transhumanist community. A positive future won’t just pop up on its own; we have to fight for it. As I organized and struggled in the past to create a better present day, I believe we’ll need to keep the struggle going to ensure we create a better future. In a strange way, we sort of already live in a cyberpunk future—which is why Technoprogressives are needed now more than ever.
Dark night in a futurescape,
Only one room, no lights, with no escape.
The sound of ambience could be heard over
the sound of the ambulance.
Real girl, you have me in your trance.
Tell me, is this fate?
I see the dim red light shining through your corset,
Recording in your forehead, the two of us on floor beds.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing,”
I said in whispers as you’re whirring.
“But does it matter who I’m wearing,”
she replied, glowing all red.
In the top floor suite of a hotel left in ruins.
Drones overhead, snapping pictures of what we’re doing,
Live-streaming missionary in a city of no missionaries.
A worldwide audience, online for the viewing.
Red and blue lights glaring, sirens echo through the morning,
Raiding rooms below us, hearing nothing but your moaning.
Flashlights piercing through the darkness of our fantasy,
Through the corridors of crime.
Excuse us for not mourning.
Rain drops pouring by the window as it vibrates
from the music bass pounding – the illusion that we’re quiet.
Posthuman primates in a drug infested complex,
Eyes caught in contact as our pupils start to dilate.
Sweeper ‘bots knock at our door that is locked,
Oblivious to the fact that our bodies have it blocked.
Caught in haste, our ways leave the windows
in a state of haze, with minds so dazed
we negate the hallways ablaze.
The sprinklers turn on, windows transparent from opaque,
As the door hinges break from the strength of our bodies’ weight.
Artificial love is the dance that we are waging,
Real girl never slowing down,
Pure energy, no breaks/brakes.
As the fire dissipates, an ad light shines through the hallway.
“A sale on teledildonics,” it says,
Oh, what corporate foreplay.
Drones still viewing through the now open doorway,
Airing a social media gourmet of our risqué soirée.
Dreamstate fantasies now merge with our reality.
Our sinful night now growing short,
Oh, sweet cyber blasphemy.
We make our way downstairs, through the chaos of our everyday,
In the background only sounds of lustful cybernetic threeways.
For today, we say, was a night of futuristic artistry,
Circuitry mixed with anarchy, in a world opposed to chastity.
You may vanish when I exit, real girl of my dreams,
But when I return, so will you –
Alive in the beams, pure energy.
Image source: B.J. Murphy