File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 13

Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 21:40:30 +0000
Subject: more on cyborgs and the inhuman


There is 1991 Science Fiction novel called Halo by Tom Maddox which in 
its strange non-violence, constituted actually in its avoidance of 
violence, apart that is from the opening virtual coda sequence at the 
beginning of the novel. This novel rests as a questioning of Lyotards 
refusal of the inhuman as a way forward, for Lyotards refusal of the 
inhuman, or more accurately of 'development' and techno-sciencific 
development is a refusal of the cyborg future. But, yet Maddox's Halo 
proposes a vision that is opposite - for the story is about the 
humanisation of the machine. The merging of the machine and human into 
an all too human synthesis. With the machine being merged completely 
into, and welcomed as a 'fellow human'.

The representation is of a synthesis beyond the limits of the human-tool 
prosthesis as defined by Freud as the ultimate uneasy relationship. It 
appears to me that this often forgotten proposal by Freud contains the 
defintion of the origins for the uneasy relationship between the human 
and the machine/tool. As a proposition it is so much more adequate than 
the absurd Heideggerian notion of in-handedness - which defines the 
perfect relationship of human/machine as being like the craftsman 
holding the hammer as a perfect extension of the arm and who always 
strikes the nail perfectly. Given that this ideal never exists and is 
completely unachievable and that in reality (such a lovely word) we are 
always imperfectly struggling to avoid bashing our fingers as we hold 
the nail...

The text 'Halo' proposes the humanisation of the machine as being 
founded on the machine recognising itself as being in the same state of 
being as the Freudian subject known as human... Perhaps this is why it 
stands as the beginnings of a way beyond both the Lyotardian desire to 
refuse the way of techno-scientific development, (which as a (to 
confess) left/philosophical/engineer i agree with and which Deleuze 
referred to as 'the royal road of science') and the absurdity of 
imagining that a cyborgian dystopian future is in some sense a potential 
source of liberation. Rather than simply another means of constructing 
oppression and new military-scientific apparatuses... It is here however 
that it appears to be contrary to Lyotard in that he states 
unequivocally that thought derives from the inseparable mind and 
gendered body, but and here's the irony - in this pulpy text - in the 
simulcrum that is the virtual reality in which the half the story takes 
place - the machines - drift inexorably towards the state of having 
virtually gendered bodies, which for us Freudian subjects is all we can 
ever achieve anyway..

The cyborgs in the text are not migrating towards the cyborg-state of 
either the militarised bodies so desired by the military/war machines or 
the cyborgs of cyber-feminism but rather the gendered difference of 
Lyotard and Irigarary...



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