I’m devolving into a babbling idiot. I blame the mad dash for the semester’s end. In true cyborg style I warn you:



In June of 1977, my grandmother watched the launch of NASA’s Viking 1 Mars mission on TV. Before the craft sent photos back to Earth, scientists believed that the little red planet possessed a life sustaining atmosphere. At 6 1/2 years old, my only focus was deadlocked on Dumbo and a fat blue crayon.

“Did you hear that, Kim? They’re talking about space shuttles. Someday you could live on Mars.”

My concentration, and life as I knew it, was shattered. Me? Trade the beautiful Earth and its pulpy coloring books for a technological shelter and an iPod? I dropped my crayon. Tears breached the borders of my lashes. The flood gates broke open.

Gram’s hand rested on my shoulder. “Oh no. Did I scare you?”

I think now, “You bet yer ass you did, and so does Donna Haraway.”

Cyborgs have the ability to delve into the borderlands, or as Gloria Anzaldua would say, the last mestiza. They challenge the boundaries between?human and animal; organism and machine; physical and non-physical. My favorite quote from Haraway falls under the first category:

Biology and evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social sciences. Within this framework, teaching modern Christian creation should be fought as a form of child abuse. (2271)

Rock on, girlfriend. Eat vegetarian. Down with religion. Equality can never come from a patriarchal Christian hierarchy.

Because cyborgs have no origin story, no dominating patriarchal tradition or otherwise, there exists possibility for freedom from these Western dualisms:

Self/other, mind/body, culture/nature, male/female, civilized/primitive, reality/appearance, whole/part, agent/resource, maker/made, active/passive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, God/man. (2296)

This is brilliant and beautifully Utopian. I love it. I love Haraway… until I remember where she says:

Microelectronics mediates the translations of labor into robotics and word processing; sex into genetic engineering and reproductive technologies; and mind into artificial intelligence and decision procedures. (2285)

Communication systems and technologies are the tools?necessary to recraft our selves, to disassemble and reassemble, to recode who we are. Okay. But… (This is where I cry like a 6 year old.) I don’t want to live like this. Is this even living? Are we really already there?

Warning, Will Robinson! Tangent ahead: Sure, modern medicine provides artificial limbs that respond to mental stimuli. This ability is truly amazing and beneficial to people who have lost body parts. But what happens when the Bionic Woman becomes a reality? (Answer: Countless Lindsay Wagner reproductions sell billions of Sleep Number Beds.) What becomes of talent, ability?and stamina for physical training in arenas like the Olympics? We chastise those who take performance drugs for being dishonest. Sneaking in a pair of knees with?mnemonic assist can’t be good.

All Systems Online: To get back on track, I found great value in the text and got all sorts of serious while commenting on Joei’s Blog. Pardon me while I plagiarize myself (with a few tweaks):

My take on page 2269, where Haraway says,  “Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices?” is that people are no longer being seen as the sum of all their parts. The medical realm has created artificial limbs, and thus human/machine hybrids. Do we consider these hybrid people/cyborgs any less human, whether male or female? No.

This leads directly into the next quote?[Joei] pulled from the text.

Identities seem contradictory, partial, and strategic. With the hard-won recognition of their social and historical constitution, gender, race, and class cannot provide the basis for belief in “essential” unity. There is nothing about being “female” that naturally binds women. (2275)

In agreement with Joei, I say this. Gender in our society is based on biology, yet Judith Butler says that maleness or femaleness is not a “natural” assumption based on body parts. If some men are born with ovaries and breasts, women with male genitalia, or some women undergo hysterectomies, all of these provide a gray area within the dichotomy of men and women. To invert this system of categorical breakdown, the same holds true for women as a collective. Being female, possessing the required parts, does not create unity among the group. As Haraway points out, society, history, difference in race, class, and gender are divisive.

The?end game is that cyborgs hold the key to possibility in that they breach the boundaries of dualism. The list on page 2296 [and above] shows all the ways that cyborgs circumvent the categories. This circumvention can lead to freedom because the categories of identity break down.

Shutting Down: As a web geek, I love technology. Still, I beg, can’t the plight of humanity be improved while remaining human? Or are cyborgs Haraway’s way of “letting the dead monster fall?” (Think Watchmen.) Here’s my trouble. I hold close to a Native-American-style reverence of the Earth, its creatures and their spirits. I hate cell phones . People that wear them “hands free” on their heads look stupid. Borders employees are freaks. They agree to assimilation, wearing ear devices to connect with the Mother Ship’s corporate command center. Cyborgs. Sellouts. Corporate America gets fat because communication travels faster than bodies. Sit back, sip 12 Cokes, and take it all in.

Post Script: Maybe I’m a victim of Horkeimer and Adorno’s theory. Brainwashing IS present in film. Do I have the utmost respect for the wonderfully villainous Borg on Star Trek? Yes. Could I ever see them as heroes, breaking through the barriers of Western duality? Not so much. They want to cruelly assimilate Captain Piccard’s individuality and that, my friends, is a crime against humanity. Similarly, AI (Speilberg’s Artificial Intelligence) boasts the dangers of loving the clone of a “real boy,” one developed through genetic and technological advancement, while cyborgs riot against humanity for hurting their wittle feelings. In the end it all goes to hell. I’m a sucker for this message of pending doom. I believe.