Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Week Two (Wed, 1/26): Natural Born Cyborgs

Class Notes by Riki

Stelarc: The Body is Obsolete


Prelude: Dialogue, comments.

I. Course Keeping:  
On line access, note taking, reminder to post by Friday.


II. For next week: for both Monday's and Wednesday's class, read/reflect on Joan Roughgarden's Introduction and Part One: "Animal Rainbows." Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 1-181 (purchase book).


III. To open: from last time

  • extensions and conversions

  • how has your notion of your relation and interaction with technology changed since your first posting? 
  • how might you describe your relation differently now?

    anne bound to ...  clock and calendar
    m.aghazarian get the time; but when there's no service... cell phone
    tangerines explore creativity; but more time in front
    of screen than interacting w/ other people
    cara much greater access to information, but
    decline in the amount of books I read/
    number of distractions provided by
    leamirella always something missed camera
    Oak communication Internet
    Francine digital drawing/entertainment...
    but communication/social networking??
    MissArcher2 indispensible to constant connection, but
    we've ceased to focus on where we are
    Franklin20 artistic capacities, but too dependent iPhone
    spreston connected, but too reliant laptop
    Hilary Brashear create a private soundtrack, but
    distancing of human to human contact
    ekthorp ability to carry all my music with me iPod
    Hilary G calming, personal, self-motivated creativity piano
    merlin quick and efficient transmission of knowledge and information, but replacing a person with your imaginary visualization cellphone/text messages
    Apocalipsis constant connection/instant gratification/makes me a
    strong player in the world by increasing my resources
    kelliott carry my whole life/switch in identity iPhone
    rubikscube limited ability to consider questions
    without one right answer
    Arduino control board
    phreNic can access astounding amount of information:
    but too much, too trivial or incomplete?
    Riki takes a lot of time video camera
    shin1068111 go anywhere whenever I want, but: accidents;
    requires lots of energy and causes air pollution.
    aybala50 handy for seeing everyone I'm supposed to airplanes
    Liz McCormack doing science = manipulating and imagining stuff beam machines,
    MSA 322 listen to my favorite music whenever i wanted walkman--> iPod
    TiffanyE music, emails, internet access, organization, keeping in touch--but danger: horrible listeners because attention is constantly glued to the phones Blackberry

IV.What is Andy Clark's thesis?  Let's think along with him...

  • what is his argument?
  • what are his thinking points?
  • what are his metaphors?
  • What intellectual traditions/precepts does he challenge?
    • adaptation
    • evolutionary psychology


Think/pair/share: Questions of the self--what examples from your knowledge and experiences, support or refute his vision of us as natural-born cyborgs? 


V. What is the relationship between Clark's and Haraway's theses?

Haraway had three binaries in her mapping of the cyborg landscape. 

What structure does Clark introduce to do the same kind of mapping?


How do they compare?

Two camps:

  • refinements
  • additional points
  • missing contexts


VI. How do Haraway and Clark use language differently and what does this say to us?


"This ... is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism."

"Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true.  Irony is about humour and serious play.  It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method..."   --Haraway


"My body is an electronic virgin.   I incorporate no silicon chips... but I am slowly becoming more and more a cyborg.  For we shall be cyborgs not in the mere superficial sense of combining flesh and wires but in the more profound sense being human-technology symbionts: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and nonbiological circuitry." --Clark  


"The human mind ...cannot be seen as bound and restricted by the biological skinbag.  In fact, it has never been thus restricted and bound.....this kind of story was the literal and scientific truth."  --Clark


"the tyranny of clarity" vs.  "the plain and literal truth"


Other uses of language---call out examples.


How might these observations impact your own writing?

What aesthetic has guided you in the past?
What might you do differently now?

VII. To close:  Brainstorm 2-3 prompts for weekly post.

Class Notes by Riki