This essay analyzes a postcyberpunk science fiction story by Ted Chiang, an Asian American writer. The story speculates on the technological manipulation of visual perception through the direct modification of visual processing structures in the human brain. It focuses on the political implications of such technologies and their different effects on gender or sexuality and race. I situate the story's speculations in relation to contemporary developments in cognitive science, especially in evolutionary psychology, as those scientific disciplines redefine the basis for distinctions between nature and culture. Chiang's story is grounded in these scientific disciplines, specifically in work on the condition of prosopagnosia, or the inability to identify people through facial features, usually as a result of brain damage. The story imagines a technology that deliberately induces another kind of damage, or agnosia: the ability to evaluate facial beauty. “Liking What You See” reflects on the ways in which such a technology might either disrupt or reproduce gender and racial ideologies by altering people's ability to recognize and experience a particular form of visual pleasure. The story explicitly situates this technology of cognitive modification in relation to new media technologies. The attitude toward embodiment implicit both in the story and in the cultural and scientific contexts within which it emerges opens out onto

a larger set of theoretical issues, which I characterize as the relationship between ethnicity and technicity.

You do not currently have access to this content.