File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 15

Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 22:34:32 -0600
Subject: Re: more on cyborgs and the inhuman


I had to put most of my energy for this evening into the commentary on
Badiou which has been like a monkey on my back for the past two weeks. 
Now at last it is a fait accompli.

My principle pleasure in doing this exercise has been that it forced me
to really grapple with what Badiou had to say, and although I personally
have serious reservations about his approach, it made me  think about
ethics in a much more powerful way. For that I am grateful.

To very briefly address the topic of cyborgs here, let me confess that I
have admittedly been using cyborg is a rather polemical way.  I like
Haraway's formulation "I'd rather be a cyborg that a goddess" because it
points to a formulation that would allow us to achieve the ends of
religion without the need for religion.  It provides for the moral
equivalent of religion, if you will.

My formulation of the cyborg sees it not merely as external hardware,
but as intrinsically immanent and subjective as well.  To the extent
that we can act instrumentally to transform situations through language,
inquiry and social interactions, technology is embedded in the very
constitution of who we are and what we may become.

The Luddite/Heideggerian perspectives, in my view, merely recapitulate
the Cartesian error of seeing external machine things without and
spirits/ghosts/consciousness within.  I think the cyborg perspective
helps overcome that false view in the convex mirror.

I am definitely opposed to the Wired/Promethian/capital privatization of
technology as well because this seems to me to be merely the flip side
of the same error.

What I am arguing for instead is taking responsibility for our
cyborgian-floating-world-embedded-transactional-shifting-identities by
allowing for more social and democratic control of our technologies.
Besides the dystopian consequences of development for its own sake,
there also remain the questions Lyotard raised in the Postmodern
Condition, namely who shall control the data banks? and how can the
paralogical replace the performative as the basis for the social bond?

Is speed, frenzy, stress, the 80 hour workweek, the dependence on fossil
fuels, the proliferation of intellectual property, the loss of privacy
through government and corporate invasiveness, the inequalities brought
about technological differentiation, the growing stockpile of weaponry,
gated communities - are these all merely deterministic functions of
development, technology and complexity, or are they the result of the
social/economic/politic matrix from which these technologies emerge.

"I'd rather be a cyborg than a goddess."  

That doesn't mean I want to remain a micro-serf reading Tom Clancy and
Wired and playing Doom on my computer while I pray to Jesus ala Kevin

By cyborg I mean using technology to extend the social bond in a
convivial fashion, replacing work with play, becoming polymorpheusly
perverse to the great chagrin of the Christian/Moslem/Jewish
fundamentalists (and even the liberal ones are basically
fundamentalists!) and entering into godlike and blissful states of the
Ubermind without groveling on our knees to outworn dogmas and
patriarchal tribal creeds.  By cyborg I mean a way to resist development
and complexity because we sly organisms still have other plans and even
wear our electric hearts upon our sleeves.

I'd rather be a cyborg than an Ashcroft, a Bin Laden, a Sharon, a Bush,
a Billy Graham, a Jerry Falwell, a Trent Lott, a Jesse Helms, a Pope
John Paul II.

Philip K. Dick was right - The Empire never ended. 

There's a hell of a good universe next door. Let's go!



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