The Gamble of Reproduction: Conceiving Ada’s Queer Temporalities
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Towards the end of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s 1997 film Conceiving Ada, Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace (Tilda Swinton) laments on her deathbed that she ‘never became’; ‘never was really what [she] should have been’. In this, one of the film’s closing scenes, Ada, Hershman Leeson’s fictionalized version of the Victorian mathematician who is often credited with inventing what we now know as computer language, describes her frustration at not having managed to write down – to get out – all of her ideas: ‘It’s all inside. It’s still there.’ Instead of birthing the information contained within her mind, Ada describes with disappointment what did in fact, ‘come out of her’: ‘I don’t know how my children even came out of me. They’re not what I wanted to come out of me.’ In this scene, Ada’s pregnant mind is explicitly contrasted with her female reproductive body. Moreover, an antagonistic relationship is set up between her ability to birth her children and her ability to write out all of her ideas. The births of her children seemingly cause her to die with a full mind.
- College Publications