The Appeal of Cyborg Imagery (2): Anti-Totalizing

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University

According to Donna J. Haraway, cyborg imagery can "help express" what she takes to be the crucial point that

the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is not just that science and technology are possible means of great human satisfaction, as well as a matrix of complex dominations. Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the supersavers of the new right. It means both building and destroying machines, identities, categories, relationships, space stories. Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess. [Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 1991, 181]

From what qualities does the effectiveness of the cyborg derive? What are the implications of using a monster as a figure or paradigm for all people?

At what points does Haraway's cyborg vision match with that implied by hypertext as a medium of intellectual discourse? To what extent does Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash embody her emphasis upon "heteroglossia"? (And in Stephenson, is it a "powerful infidel heteroglossia"?).

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Last modified 14 April 2005