A Definition of EL112, "Cyberspace, Virtual Reality, and Critical Theory"
(take a deep breath)
It was only after re-reading Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl that something clicked. Sort of. I mean, I don't want to give the impression that the following is an overarching, all-encompassing description of the semester... but for now, it works for me.
For me, the underlying (or to be on the safe side, an underlying) theme of this course was the gradual blurring of identity; the gradual progression towards the borderless self; the dispersion of self and identity.
(uncertainty spurs a mad fumbling for examples)
- The increasing use of artificial and natural prostheses, and the popularity of the World Wide Web. (WWW represents the dispersal of information, both private and otherwise)
- Cyberspace as the merging of one's self with a new, virtual space. Both in the need for an artificial prosthesis in order to attain this new existence, and in our newfound desire to immerse ourselves in a new, constructed reality.
- Prosthesis as a fleeing of the meat. In one regard, this can be seen quite literally as the desire to escape our physical body. But at the same time, it could be regarded as our longing to flee our fixed identities, to try on new selves with new technologies.
- The World Wide Web and the general trend towards a decentralized world of networks. Everything is simultaneously interconnected and isolated.
- The cyborg as the merging of many selves; the construction of a new, networkable, borderless self.