Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, November 09, 2007

"We Have Never Been Human"

One of the profoundest influences on my own thinking (and now my teaching) -- and in an ongoing way, at this point going on nearly two decades -- has been Donna Haraway.

Many readers of my blog will claim the same.

I have to think some who say this, I'm being frank with you, can't really mean what they are saying or don't understand what it would mean to mean what they are saying when they claim to share this enthusiasm for Haraway with me. It's awfully hard to imagine someone taking Haraway's lessons to heart and yet still falling into or falling for Superlativity.

In an interview published as the closing selection in The Haraway Reader (as anthologies of this kind go, it's a pretty good one), she remarks of her famous "Cyborg Manifesto" that "[t]here were some who regarded it as… promoting a kind of blessed-out, techno-sublime euphoria. Those readers completely failed to see the critique. They read things that for me are highly ironic and angry, a kind of contained ironic fury -- they would read these things as my literal position, as if I was embracing and affirming what I am describing with barely constrained fury."

Anyway, I've stumbled on some lovely and provocative video of a discussion of Haraway's work at the Pacific Center for Technology and Culture, from back in 2004 -- the immediate occasion of the discussion was the publication of her short "Companion Species Manifesto."

The video is separated into four separate parts -- for me, it seems best skip the preliminary ego-stroking and throat clearing gestures in the first part, and just jump ahead to the intense dialogues of the other three parts. No Superlativity to be found here, in fact quite the opposite, just responsive, responsible, open, technoscientifically but more than only technoscientifically literate, post-humanist, anti-reductionist, actually engaged conversation. A joy to witness, really.

1 comment:

jfehlinger said...

Dale wrote:

> It's awfully hard to imagine someone taking Haraway's lessons
> to heart and yet still falling into or falling for Superlativity.

Still, you must be aware that the (excellent) anime _The Ghost
in the Shell 2_ contains an homage to Donna Haraway -- the medical
examiner (whose upper face flips up and away allowing her to
plug electronic goggles directly into her eye-sockets) is named
"Miss Haraway". (She also chain-smokes -- ugh! -- shrimp-flavored
cigarettes.)