Topics: Feminist theory, Cyborg, Cybernetics Pages: 21 (6658 words) Published: December 15, 2012

Between Cybernetics And Embodiment


I. Introduction: Cyborg-Being---------------------2

II. Cybernetics: A History----------------------------8

III. Embodied Subjects and Spatiality--------------12

IV. Between Cyborgs and Posthumanity-----------17

V. Traversing Desire----------------------------------24

VI. Conclusion: Future Bodies ----------------------29

VII. Bibliography-----------------------------------------31

Do cyborgs have bodies? Drawing on the works of Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles and other Feminist writing on Technology, discuss the relationship between cybernetics and embodiment. -------------------------------------------------

I. Introduction: Cyborg-Being

A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generates antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); its takes irony for granted. (Haraway, 1991:180)

The post-human subject is an amalgam, a collection of the heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction.
(Hayles, 1999:3)

This essay will discuss feminist perspectives of post-human and cyborg body theory, as it relates to conceptions of affectivity, subjectivity, materiality, incorporeality, and dis/embodiment. Cybernetics theory suggests that the body is a communications network, a system of feedback mechanisms whereby information patterns can be exchanged and circulated independent of material substrates. In shifting attention from the material to the immaterial, cybernetics deems an equivalency between machine and organism whereby: ‘the sociologic of human identity [is] transformed into an abstract product of cybernetic organization’ (Tomas, 1995:27). The human body, abstracted from the singular, materially bound entity it was once thought to be, is liberated into the space of the cybernetic organism where ‘there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation’ (Hayles, 1999: 2). If machines are a coded, informatics extension of human embodiment, then how can we visualize the cyborg body in a way that is representative of the post-human amalgam of human-machine? What does an embodied, ‘materially enfleshed’ figure in today’s techno-culture signify? What is the body of the cyborg?

To explore this, I choose to focus on the movement of desire through machinic and organic systems, and in doing so, aim to delineate what a body is and what it does. Desire is a social, biological, symbolic assemblage that parallels the ideological construction of the cyborg-body (Cardenas, 2010:73). In isolating the concept of desire as it appears in and through different bodies, I examine the body by examining what Elizabeth Grosz refers to as ‘desire’s turbulent restlessness’, or that which ‘defies coding into signs, significations, meanings’ (1995: 196). If desire cannot be coded, existing only as a ‘series of intensities’, then I propose that desire is an apt starting place for theorizing a conceptual link between the cybernetic system and the embodied subject. In addition, the Deleuzian concept of ‘rhizomatic desire’ conceives of an externalized vision of desire: a desire ‘that no longer rests on the dualistically split subject of modernity, but rather on the intensive entity that is activated by eternal returns, constant becomings and flows of transformations in response to external promptings’ (Braidotti, 2002:100). Desire in this sense is positive and affirmative, it does not represent lack or void as in psychoanalytic theory. The figure of the cyborg is a multi-layered, multidimensional being whose...
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