Friday, 10 May 2013


^Rachael from the movie Blade Runner (source)

Two extracts from Donna J Haraway’s 'A Cyborg Manifesto', a text in which she lays down the Cyborg as a driving metaphor for illuminating a much more nuanced, immersive approach to technology, the body, and identity, one that neither recoils in fear from monstrous new developments nor worships progress, but which rather entirely sidesteps the archaic, totalitarian dualisms of culture/nature, self/other, male/female, civilized/primitive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, reality/appearance; instead asking us to construct our reality as we move, on the go, responding to, ironically incorporating and utilising multiple new viewpoints and states of being in ways incommensurable with the old, given identity groupings. Irony here has nothing to do with a bitchy cynicism that lets you appropriate at will without commitment, it is not the post-modern tactic of relinquishing any attachment to those multiple things you use and make with a disgustingly, violently condescending, knowing wink; it is instead poetic irony, the ability to embody multitudes, a complex approach to existence, design, politics, and life in which multiple viewpoints, numerous approaches and conflicting and incommensurate values can, by virtue of the singularity of the human will, compress it all into the razor’s edge of a broad creative existence in thrall to no reductive dogma, but allied to everything and all that can, and might, broaden our horizons.

“For excellent reasons, most Marxisms see domination best and have trouble understanding what can only look like false consciousness and people’s complicity in their own domination in late capitalism. It is crucial to remember that what is lost, perhaps especially from women’s points of view, is often virulent forms of oppression, nostalgically naturalized in the face of current violation. Ambivalence towards the disrupted unities mediated by high-tech culture requires not sorting consciousness into categories of ‘clear-sighted critique grounding a solid political epistemology’ versus ‘manipulated false consciousness’, but subtle understanding  of emerging pleasures, experiences, and powers with serious potential for changing the rules of the game.”

“There are several consequences to taking seriously the imagery of cyborgs as other than our enemies. Our bodies, ourselves; bodies are maps of power and identity. Cyborgs are no exception. A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); it takes irony for granted. One is too few, and two is only one possibility. Intense pleasure in skill, machine skill, ceases to be a sin, but an aspect of embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they.”

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