Haraway and the Cyborg Manifesto

“(Cyborg) is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.” (Haraway, 2007)

I had such a hard time reading the piece by Haraway, as even the title itself and its reference to socialist-feminism tainted my attitude towards it.  I continued, but lines such as “Star Wars apocalypse,” “masculinist orgy of war,” “evil mother of masculinist fear” did nothing for my openness towards the writing.  I found the writing to be too focused on women and feminist attitudes, reflected in such lines as “many women’s lives have been structured around employment in electronics-dependent jobs, and their intimate realities include serial heterosexual monogamy, negotiating childcare, distance from extended kin or most other forms of traditional vulnerability as they age.”  Is this not a problem in modern society for everyone?  If feminism is equality for women, then women must take the good with the bad.  Men’s lives have always been structured around employment, but is that really how men want to lead their lives?  It is not a culturally accepted choice for a man to be anything but gainfully employed with life structured around work.

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“The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled postmodern collective and personal self.” (Haraway, 2007)

I wonder what Haraway thinks about the Borg (introduced in the Star Trek: Next Generation (Q Who, 1996), and Voyager TV series) and subsequently the Borg Queen (introduced in the 1996 film, Star Trek: First Contact)?  She originally wrote the Cyborg Manifesto in 1985, and has since presumably updated it for republication in 2007.  Would she consider the Borg, pre – First Contact as better or worse than the Borg once the Queen had been introduced?  In other words, when the Borg were a collective consciousness without any type of visible command structure, were they ‘better cyborgs’ than after the introduction of the queen?  The queen brings “order to chaos” and is implied as being the avatar for the entire collective… the voice of it. (wikipedia)  The threat of the Borg is to deny individuality and assimilate all into their collective.  Are the Borg cyborgs then?  If as Haraway states in the above quote a cyborg is a combination of collective and personal self, then surely they cannot be.  But then is the Borg Queen, as the only unique member of the Borg, a cyborg as she refers to herself as “I” several times in the film? “I am the beginning… the end… the one who was many… I am the Borg”

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“Why should our bodies end at the skin, or include at best other beings encapsulated by skin?” (Haraway, 2007)

As soon as I read the line I flashed back to the World Builder video of Week 2 of the course.  The woman’s body, perhaps damaged in some way, is being fed images by the machine… or perhaps her mind is feeding the images to it… in either case, she is connected to it.  The man, having created the environment has a glimpse into her memory, perhaps into her consciousness… he is accessing her through the machine.  Is she a cyborg… connected to the machine to share consciousness and experience?  Is she a combination of the collective and personal self?  Where does she begin and the machine end?  Does her implied medical condition mean that she can no longer be interacted with without the aid of the machine?  Does her personal self then cease to exist outside of the machine environment, or has the machine assimilated it into the collective?


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