Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Meeting (Cyborg Theory)

"Cyborg Manifesto"
by Donna Haraway
"The Computer Reprograms Me"
Michael Chorost

The second meeting of MATCH centered around what was dubbed "Cyborg Theory" inspired by a lecture and workshop advertised over the summer around Michael Chorost's recent books Rebuilt & World Wide Mind. Leigha McReynolds and Erin Vander Wall lead the discussion, including an excerpt from Chorost's first book and Donna Haraway's foundational essay, "the Cyborg Manifesto." 

The conversation functioned across a variety of interlocking topics. On one level, all members were interested and comfortable with the invitation to think along with "Post-Humanism" to imagining bodies (including the human body) not as a discrete subject, but as an array of changing, exchanging, and permeable systems of objects (which may possess different degrees of subjectivity). On a second level, we parsed Chorost's attempts to draw strict distinctions between things such as Cyborgs, Androids, Robots, and Humans. We developed our own working understanding of the terms (apart from Chorost) but generally agreed that such beings in life and literature often seen to cross or straddle these categories despite our attempts to pin them down. On a third level, we contemplated Chrosost's attitudes towards gender, sexuality, and disability which appeared strikingly to work hard to assert hierarchical and defined differences in bodies, despite his concentration on how his own body and identity is deconstructed by his hearing-aid; this attitude was then compared with Haraway's proposals for an inter-penetrating material feminism.