One of the threads that I see uniting the texts is the notion of hyper-textuality (and its sensory properties of speed, simultaneity, anonymity, and seeming im-mediation) as repositioning subjects within desires for control and performance optimization, side-by-side with conflicting desires for community and transcendence. These texts seem to wrestle with different issues stemming from the idea that identities (subjectivities, selves, socialities) have become fundamentally compromised by the intensification of these contradictory human uses for digitality.
Haraway writes: “Human beings, like any other component or subsystem, must be localized in a system architecture whose basic modes of operation are probabilistic, statistical. …Furthermore, communications sciences and modern biologies are constructed by a common move—the translation of the world into a problem of coding, a search for a common language in which all resistance to instrumental control disappears and all heterogeneity can be submitted to disassembly, reassembly, investment, and exchange” (‘Cyborg’ in Sex Machine: Readings in Culture, Gender, and Technology, 446-447). This is a kind of ontology of control. These intensifications are not merely quantitative orders of magnitude but represent qualitative shifts in what it means to be human—engendering new pleasures and desires, while also (re)producing states of stigma, abjection, depletion. In any case, these digital systems clearly circulate far more than information; far more than ‘immaterial’, they are productive of a variety of processes of materialization, whether these be ‘queer’, ‘vanilla’, or otherwise.
There are so many ideas in Haraway’s text, which is part of the benefit and frustration of her aphoristic writing style. I found it interesting and productive how Hayles and Haraway show how their ideas of the ‘cyborg’ and the ‘posthuman’ emerge as feminist projects in contrast to ‘humanistic’ notions that enroll ideologies of possessive individualism and phallogocentrism. In turn, of course, this leads us to question other categories of normative subjectivity and experience including disability and able-bodiedness, faking and authenticity, manipulation and intimacy, play and work.| | | Next → |