And there is Hawking. Sitting, as he always does, in his wheelchair, utterly motionless, except for his fingers on the joystick of the laptop; and on the floor to one side of him is the P.A. system microphone, nuzzling into the Votrax's tiny loudspeaker.
And a thing happens in my head. Exactly where, I say to myself, is Hawking? Who is it doing the talking up there on the stage? In an important sense, Hawking doesn't stop being Hawking at the edge of his visible body. There is the obvious physical Hawking, vividly outlined by the way our social conditioning teaches us to see a person as a person. But a serious part of Hawking extends into the box on his lap. In mirror image, a serious part of that silicon and plastic assemblage extends into him as wellÖ not to mention the invisible ways, displaced in time and space, in which discourses of medical technology and their physical accretions already permeate him and us. No box, no discourse; in the absence of the prosthetic, Hawking's intellect becomes a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it. On the other hand, with the box his voice is auditory and simultaneously electric, in a radically different way from that of a person speaking into a microphone. Where does he stop? Where are his edges? The issues his person and his communication prostheses raise are boundary debates, borderland/frontera questions. Here at the close of the mechanical age, they are the things that occupy a lot of my attention.
(From Stone, 1995)