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Cybernetic Organisms

I have a love-hate relationship with PWD being called "cyborg." It happens a lot in really pomo essays full of words I sometimes, despite being a grad student, can't even understand.

So let's begin with the hate.

From the paper, there: "This paper is fascinated by the play with the caught body."


Let's talk about fascination, shall we?

I'm a freshman in college. A boy is visiting me for the first time, really. I've discovered in a short time that I actually really don't like him at all. I don't want to send him away because it's the first time I've really gotten any sexualized attention and I know I'll miss it if he's gone. I don't know what I want to actually do with him (we end up doing nothing, after I freeze up when he kisses me and he realizes something's wrong and stops. Thank the Goddess for small mercies many other women, sadly, don't get.)

I show him my scarred legs. His eyes widen.

"You're not a woman, you're a fucking cyborg."

"You could be one of the Borg. All you need is the little eye *puts hand to face, makes noise*."


"What? It's true."

Every time I read a theory-laden essay, more full of analysis than respect, I'm transported back to that moment. Only this time "cyborg" is supposed to be positive: we're supposed to be the vanguard. The new human.

Supposed to be.

For everyone else, not ourselves.

To me, that's the medical gaze all over again. I'm not your cyborg to analyze.

Not doing it, not being it, don't want to hear it.


But here's the love:

I live in this body. It is, currently, implanted with metal. Even if some of it is removed, I will still have metal embedded in my bones from some stupid doctor making a mistake.

I am part metal, even if that metal is, well, useless.

I've always since had an affinity for the meeting of skin and steel. Those of you who read any at all of my writing already know this.

Because that is my body. That is me.

Running idea of mine: when I find an online enclave suitable for the persona, where it's not taken, I'm going to go by "stainless."

For ten years, this has been my body.

But there's a difference, when it comes from me.

There's a difference when I am not some nebulous we, something to be analyzed and studied and held up, the object of an experiment.

I am not a semiotic anything. Here I fly in the face of academia but it needs to be said: Speak plainly or shut up.

Talk about the people. Talk about their lives. Not just about composition, message, image-making. Talk about what they've said about the image they want to present. How has the media done? Do they like their own pictures? Do they think they're presented well, as they would wish to be?

Talk about that, if you want to talk about this.

And take your fascination and cram it.

If this body IS a revolution: it is my revolution.

Not yours.

(To those who will surely think I sound hypocritical: Sexual fetishism doesn't bother me personally nearly as much as impersonal-sounding analysis. Sexual desire is an animating drive, and one we don't have much control over. Intellectual fascination is much more impersonal. And while we can't control how desire seizes up, we can control whether we present our papers as "fascination" with PWD bodies and the meaning they carry, or whether we present them as examinations respectful of the people living IN those bodies.)

(Edit the second: The person who wrote the cyborg paper is a WWD. That makes it substantially less creepy than if it's some outsider analyzing, to me.. still, though, I get worried by some of the breathless cyborg excitement. Having your body called "cyborg" is, in some ways, having it called inhuman, rather than simply having it called "augmented.")


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)

(would have more to say but really, that's it. Just...yes.)
Jul. 10th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Jul. 10th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC)
Do you mind if I link to this with a few thoughts of my own? You said this amazingly. Seriously.
Jul. 10th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
I'd be honored.
Jul. 10th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
Can I tell you how much I love you now? Really? Okay, I love you.

And I have metal in my leg too, actually...two pins and replacement parts for what used to be my left knee (carwreck). I have a little card for airplanes and everything. And scars. Well, I have lots of scars, but...

YES on I get the machine/sex/fantasy/cyborg fetish. Yes yes indeed. Hell, I have a barcode tattoo.

NO, I don't like when some asshat makes similar comments about the metal in my knee (and yep, heard it too "you're like the borg!", exact same comment even. And, since I have even more unnatural parts now, this particular asshat and his silly little friends just think it is even MORE funny now, and since they are sci-fi geeks, I get a lot of new and cyboralicious nicknames every time I see them.

Last time I saw this person who made the borg comment, I reminded him that while yes, I dress like an extra from "Blade Runner" generally, and have metal in my knee, and a bar code, and fake tits, and an affection for chrome, if I were a cyborg, I would not be the type who would fuck him, I would be the type who would rip out his spine with my bare hands.
Jul. 10th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
YES on I get the machine/sex/fantasy/cyborg fetish. Yes yes indeed. Hell, I have a barcode tattoo.

Oh, yeah. It's two different contexts when I do it vs when they do it.

Hell, main character in my novel has functioning, retractable claw implants. Would she if part of my body weren't stainless steel? Most likely not.

But someone else saying it in a distinctly not-honoring way? Bugs hell out of me.

And yeah, okay. Merlau-Ponty. Fancy fancy fancy. But why is that supposed to grab me rather than just make me roll my eyes?
Jul. 10th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)
Hell yes. You're on fire, here, compadre.
Jul. 10th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
I thought it was interesting, the first time I heard the comparison between cyborgs and people whose bodies are different (adapted?) due to medical science. But it's always seemed to me that you don't really begin entering the cyborg zone until your brain is somehow different due to implanted/injected... something.

And I don't exactly mean, for example, when a deaf person has a plate put into their head, that send electric impulses to their brain, to simulate hearing. I mean where there's a computer of some type that changes the way you make decisions, that somehow gets into the essence of you.

I mean, didn't the whole fascination with cyborgs come from science fiction, with technology somehow interfering with free will?

So with that, it would seem like my hormone-altering and mood-altering drug regimen moves me closer to cyborg-ville than artificial bits attached to bone/limbs/etc.

But that doesn't exactly tap into people's fetishes the way that visible technology would. And it's chemical technology, not mechanical technology.

(Rambling, sorry)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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