The Cyborg Manifesto
Proposed Trope: The Singularity is a trope that appears in this text.
Connection to class readings
Note: Please use this to discuss relevant connections to class readings. This applies to the current class, Spring 2011. An excerpt of Cyborg Manifesto is available on <emma> or here.
"...more faithful as blasphemy is faithful, than as reverent worship and identification."
Faith is faithful, but you cannot blaspheme without giving evidence for the existence of that which you blaspheme. How else could you blaspheme in the first place?
Cyborgs are not intended to be understood as Machine/Human Hybrids. The term "Cyborg" describes humanity as it integrates technology into its daily life. It is important to shift the views of what a cyborg is from the cinemagraphic manipulation of the term. In movies and TV shows cyborgs are half-man half-machine combinations, but the real cyborg is nothing like this. A cyborg is a combination of man and machine in a way to improve a person's life. This can be a metalic arm or leg, but it can also be a clock integrated into your eye like in Neuromancer, or a watch integrated into your wrist to run off body heat energy and not electrical energy.
Donna Haraway may be saying that we were all once cyborgs; we were "theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism." She may have thought humans were originally these "hybrids." Notably, our culture and traditions have been altered so much from the original cyborg mentality -- a utopian tradition, "a world without gender,...genesis,...end." Such a utopian tradition is no longer possible for "the cyborg incarnation is outside salvation history."
Haraway has many interesting ideas in her piece "A Manifesto for Cyborgs." One of her points seems to be that human beings are creatures of amalgamation and our culture is the reflection of that fact. She describes a type of existence where individuality appears to exist, but does not seem to matter. She credits the meaningless but individual existence to technology. In many ways, we observe cultures very similar to what Haraway described. The internet is an example where anonymity is possible, and especially certain websites and gathering places where identification can sometimes be considered improper, such as 4chan, other chan sites, and related groupings of IRC channels.
In addition, there is an analogy to the biblical ideas of original sin and the fall from the garden of Eden. Haraway says that some elements of culture are original and rely on these ideas. However, amalgamations of multiple cultural elements are a new thing with a clear beginning, so they do not have any concept of an ancient "original sin".
However, this idea is not applied very consistently and is of dubious validity. The problem is that no culture can be truly eternal. Everything comes from something that is based on something else before it. So where is the line drawn? Why are some things identified as relying on the idea of original sin, while others are not? Perhaps Haraway did not think this through completely.
There are countless examples of technology, which are neither bound by time or physical form. iPhones are a modern example of technology. The internet is technology. The wheel is another example of ancient technology. Language is technology. Paper is technology. The use of fire is technology. The one connection in all of these is humanity. Therefore, humanity has been using technology for a very, very long time. It is part of our existence. As such, thinking of humans and machines as separate entities is counterproductive. Humanity is a melting pot of all we have ever touched, and therefore applying binary concepts to human classifications is inferior. To read more on human and technology dependence, see the Proposed Trope: Growing Human Dependence on Technology page.