Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wed. Section, Codes in the Manifesto

I feel as though the only way I can approach Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” is through a very careful deciphering—not necessarily of codes, but of simply the larger ideas she mentions. In a sense, the style in which she wrote it reminded me of Barthes method of “starring” a text. While words such as “Marxism,” “ontology,” “epistemology” aren’t digressions from her argument, on the contrary, they seem like the foundations, these words nevertheless are jam-packed full of implications, history and preconceptions. For instance, I was once reminded that “feminism” isn’t necessarily the advocacy of women, but simply the advocacy of equality between genders. Of course this doesn’t mean I really know what the word means in all its formality, but it does prove that words work in different ways depending on the knowledge of the reader. In contemporary culture, it is dangerously easy to lose the formal meaning of a word (an angry facebook status the other day bemoaned the fact that students can’t tell “socialism” and “communism” apart—probably because historical context has muddled the two different ideas).

Thus the idea of the cyborg rests upon a powerhouse of political implication. It seems almost intentional on Haraway’s part, as though we were supposed to veer off into our individualized conceptions of words such as “colonization.” This defies the idea of a “translation of the world into codes,” as even a common language provides infinite variability of meaning. While immediately I think that it’s difficult to base an argument off of grand ideas and concepts, it seems quite fitting if the cyborg is a “creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (149). And in the vein of hypertext, just as Patchwork Girl creates a unique experience for each individual, Haraway is creating a unique “blasphemy,” and the loaded terms created different ways in which a reader could approach this piece. Patchwork Girl also has a similar parallel in that the body acts as a map of sorts, and yet the human body is embodied on the machine of the computer. The “cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality” (150) is similar; a map, for one, as well as a means by which to convey a message.

However, this is just what I think about the style of the piece. The intricacies of the arguments evade me as I need to go find a dictionary and get a command of all the ideas and ideologies Haraway invokes.

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