File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0112, message 22

Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 18:37:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: more on cyborgs and the inhuman

Steve says: 

"The love of the cyborg, the use of it as a metaphor, repeats the same 
errors that the use of  clockwork or the machine resulted in. God, 
goddesses, clockwork, machines, information processors(the cybernetic 
model), cyborgs - no we are simply human subjects and the metaphors used 
are endlessly reductionist. A postmodern challenge  needs to include an 
exploration of scientific and intellectual responsibility not to fall 
back into the simplifications of another machinic metaphor."

I'm at a loss. It seems to me that Haraway's work - among others we have
been discussing - is, in fact, primarily about scientific and intellectual
responsibility, and that the notion of the "cyborg" is an attempt to speak
of the not-so-simple business of being "simply human subjects." The error
of reduction seems to be most serious where "the cyborg" takes on some
status (as, apparently, the insufficient or impermissable response) apart
from particular uses of the terminology. I have anarchist comrades who
react only to the term - which offends them in some way - rather than
engaging with Haraway's consciously provocative use of it. They end up
lumping socialist feminists and free market technophiles willy-nilly - and
saving their attack for fellow socialists. I wonder if Badiou - and
perhaps you - are engaged in some similarly sectarian battle. As for the
"cyborg or goddess" question, Haraway herself has expressed some
reservations about it - in part because it was a bit of a dig at another
faction within feminism at the time when the "manifesto" was written. I
respect her concern about divisiveness, as i respect what i take to be
fairly extraordinary care in presenting her "cyborg" as anything but a
simple reduction on the basis of which any of her audience could rest in
good conscience or certainty of identity. There have been few promoters of
restless, deeply responsible thought among the more or less
"postmodern" crew who agitate as well, i would say, as Haraway. Derrida,
in his own convoluted way, comes close, but the power of the
"manifesto" was, in large part, that it was a *manifesto* (with all of the
overstatements and bootstrap attempts that go with that form) without
being some new statement of fundamentals. Or so i see it. 

Perhaps there's no room for further discussion. I find the limitations of
Ferry and his ilk plain enough, but find the attempt to apply a single
critique to them and various poststructuralists unconvincing and perhaps
politically unfortunate. The International has been split enough in the
past. We have, i think, never recovered from the period around 1870. I
wonder to what extent i am simply hearing another form of the
"materialist" dogmatism of Marx in his more divisive moments, or of


Shawn P. Wilbur  |  |         


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