Cyborg: jettisoning foolish consistencies
Further in the Shields’ article and speaking of cyborg as flaneur, we have the following quote:
In the pages of the novels of André Dumas or Eugene Sue, the ﬂâneur borrows the practice of the Empire’s other ‘Mohicans’ to reorientate himself. He scans the city and its crowds; similarly, for Walter Benjamin, a later ﬂâneur, the decrepit arcades of Paris were a vantage point on the 19th century. Flânerie – leisurely strolling – combined an appropriation of space and time – a taking of time and of the place (e.g. Dumas, 1863).
I enjoy this notion of the decrepit arcades of Paris being a vantage point on the 19th century, the “foul rag and bone shops of the heart”, the markets. All of it speaks to decay and yet there is the flaneur walking through it all, orienting with the surroundings. Leisurely strolling, askew with the pace and space of 19th century Paris. A flaneur being both of the time and beyond that time.
Tales of the cyborg are less a matter of actual, concrete mechanical or even virtual humans. They are more a matter of stories, political mythologies and a form of writing that is concerned with ‘seizing the tools to mark the world’ and ‘recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control’ (1990: 175). The textual preoccupations that bracket the claims concerning the social relations of technologies in the ‘Manifesto’ are notable in that they are a language politics that speaks against colonization, hetero-normative identiﬁcation and origin myths. ‘A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity. . . it takes irony for granted’ (1990: 180). (Shields, 213).
Cyborgs as narratives of recoding the world to subvert command and control, to reorder and reappropriate, to cast in its own image and towards its own orientation? While I think this is inherently symbolic, I am greatly intrigued by this casting off of creation myth, the innocent birth. Are we acknowledging that our past, our history is an anchor? Or is this more a statement as to how the present is the domain of the cyborg, that a cyborg essentially is an augmentation of perception, of presence? Once this becomes the norm, is it a cyborg any longer? How longingly do we look at Neanderthals? OK, now I am just listing questions.
The cyborg refuses the past in terms of the symbolic garden, the apparent contradictions in a lack of unity, irony as askew. It refuses to latch onto these terms of discourse that bound us to the constraints of our present. Emerson says it better than I can:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
So this view of disparate identities, irony as an aberration, a creation myth, these become foolish in the wake of change and reconstitution. So, essentially, does this equate cyborg with liberation?