Subjectivity Begins

Ian Jones, English 111, Brown University

A hyperpoetic look at subjectivity and identity.
Through this project, I am exploring the critical divide between the mind and body through ideas of self. Heidi J. Figueroa-Sarriera notes in the Cyborg Handbook that the mind has been "conceived of as an impersonal and transcendent entity whose most remarkable characteristic was its categorical opposition to the body... [while] the psyche of modern times is seen as the counterpart of that other, bodily substance" [128].

Donna Haraway notes the importance of a coherent self-identity in Western thought:

The proper state for a Western person is to have ownership of the self, to have and hold a core identity as if it were a possession. That possession may be made from various raw materials over time, that is, it may be a cultural production, or one may be born with it... Not to have property in the self is not to be a subject, and so not to have agency. ["Cyborg Manifesto," 135]

What happens when self-identity comes into question with the realization that memory, an individual's history, is as permeable to construction, to fragementation, and illusion as a hypertext document? As Baudrillard notes, we can not fall back upon the body as the demarkation of self: [With cloning] all information can be found in each of [the bodies] parts, the whole loses its meaning" [Simulacra and Simulation, 97]. The body is only layers of messages. Primarily, a genetic message of DNA and a message of image that we shape (with plastic surgeory, make-up, clothing) for society. If identity is not body, do we retreat each into our own subjective consciousness for the answer?

We all are multiple. But we're a little more tightly organized than the multiple personality. We all have things we've forgotten, areas we don't remember." [Cyborg Handbook, 69]

-- Major Jack E. Steele, USAF (Link Outside Project)

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