Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cyborgs and Posthumans

·        *  Cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.
·         * The cyborg myth implies a sense of agency. It stands for shifting political and physical boundaries and thus causes us to question what is natural.
·        * Technology and civilization subdue nature and bend human will. As nature melds with technology the borders become hard to distinguish and thus nature is not subdued but destroyed.

·          * Privileges informational pattern over material instantiation, so that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as an accident of history rather than an inevitability of life.
·           * Considers consciousness as an epiphenomenona, as an evolutionary upstart trying to claim that it is the whole show when in actuality it is only a minor sideshow.
·           *  Thinks of the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate, so that extending or replacing the body with other prostheses becomes a continuation of a process that began before we were born.
·           * Configures human being so that it can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines. In the posthuman, there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot teleology and human goals.

Analysis #7

(Opium Den – Asian themed party) Analysis based on Said’s Orientalism
Event details:
“An exotic evening inspired by the Orient”
“mystical world of decadence and artistry”
“Let Geishas pamper you and enjoy delectable fusion tasting menu and delicious Cavalli cocktails”
“Watch dazzling performances by Samurai warriors”

                During the colonial period of British and European domination in the Middle East the British and the French sought to rule so they began translating works from oriental languages into European languages. The orient, for those who sought to rule it, existed to be studied. It was studied by westerners who viewed themselves as superior to the “others,” which is how they described the East. The Orient was viewed as backwards and passive and thus needed to be dominated. Orientalist scholars did not distinguish among the countries of a region. “Oriental” was a universal term and all the cultures were lumped together.
                The Orient was depicted as an exotic place that was without the intellectual and industrial culture that made European countries great. Such depictions served to give European nation’s sufficient “permission” to violate and oppress the East.
                In the above event listing we see the present day effects of western orientalism views. We still view and depict the Eastern world as an exotic place that contains warriors, serventile women, and drug use. The Orient is depicted as a theme of entertainment. I found this listing to be quite offensive. The Eastern world is depicted as backwards and thus comical and by buying into such debilitating stereotype one is placing themselves in the position of the superior and thus serving a repressive agenda.

Analysis #6

Feminist Theory

At Breakfast by Giovanna Pollarolo
She is pale, her eyes baggy
A fixed gesture of loathing
Has engrained deep lines
The scream, the apprehension
The tight jaw
Lips almost non-visible
She used to have an open smile and soft skin
Big and beautiful eyes
But she has three children
And a husband for whom she cries
She looks like a withered flower
He, mature and handsome
Looks at himself in the mirror and smiles, pleased
Who would have thought…, as he caresses himself
The ugly duckling.
He’s been heavily rewarded
And when he sees her in the mornings
At breakfast
He feels the pleasure of revenge
And a bit of pity.

     Men fundamentally oppress women by characterizing them on every level as the other/define them exclusively in opposition to men. Within the poem the husband sees himself as victorious because he has sufficiently placed his wife in the realm of the other.
      The husband becomes actualized by marginalizing his wife. He is essential, powerful, an imposer of will, while his wife, is inessential, incomplete, and mutilated by her position. Through dominance the wife has lost her identity and become a character type of femininity and submission. By defining his wife as the other, the husband has stripped her of her humanity.
      Within history there is no real justification for placing woman in the role of the subordinate, there is merely a collection of attitudes, preconceptions and injustices that allow one group (men) to subjugate another (woman) in order to gain power.
      Women are socially constructed into a feminine ideal that conditions women to accept passivity, dependence, repetition, and inwardness. The woman in the poem is clearly representative of this construction and in doing so depicts the debilitating effects such a construction has on those born female sexed.
The largest adversity to this situation is women themselves, who like the wife in the poem, are complacent with their oppressive status.

Althusser and Ideology

The ultimate condition of reproduction is the reproduction of the conditions of production, brought about through the reproduction of the productive forces and the reproduction of the existing relations of production.
                The reproduction of the productive is the reproduction of labor power. This is done by giving labor power material means with which to reproduce itself, I.E. wages. Within this idea of reproduction is the notion of reproduced skills and the reproduction of submission to the established order. (schools teach ideological subjection).
                The reproduction of the relations of production is carried out through the Ideological State apparatuses. The state is a machine of repression which ensures the ability to dominate the working class to the ruling class.
State Apparatus: (Public Domain) government, administration, army, police, courts, prisons, ECT. (rule by force)
Ideological State Apparatus: (Private domain) religion, education, family, media, culture, ECT.
Note: The ISA acts as a shield between the working class and the SA and can be interpreted by the working class as a means of escape/venue for freedom from the exploitive nature of production repression. This notion is false, but, because it is not seen as false it is VERY effective as a tool of repression.

Gramsci and Intellectuals

                Gramsci questions whether intellectuals are an autonomous group, that is to say: are they separated from class structure or does every social group have its own specialized category of intellectuals. For Gramsci this is a complex problem because the historical formation of different categories of intellectuals has assumed a variety of forms.
                According to Gramsci, intellectuals are not independent but rather they are the products of the class to which they are born in. Within the genre of class or organic intellectuals there are social and political fields of intellectuals.
                Intellectuals which are part of groups seen to be continuously in existence, despite social and political changes, such as the clergy who are involved in not only religious ideology, but schools, education, morality, justice, charity, good works, ECT think of themselves as autonomous and independent of the dominant social group, but, that is all an allusion.
                This is not to say that all men are not intellectuals rather that not all men have in society the function of intellectuals. Every man in his own right is conscious of moral conduct, is a philosopher, an artist, a man of taste, who participates in his/her particular conception of the world. Thus every man contributes to and sustains a conception of the world or an effort to modify it.
                Gramsci wants to nourish a new intellectualism that works against eloquence and focuses on an active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, permanent persuader, and is not just a simple orator.
                Intellectuals are formed in connection with social groups and these intellectuals are made complex and are elaborated by the dominant social group. For one class of intellectuals to become the dominant force they must struggle against assimilation while attempting to conquer the ideology of the present “traditional” intellectuals. Intellectuals are elaborated by way of schools. The more extensive the ‘area’ covered by education, the more numerous the vertical levels of schooling and subsequently the more complex the cultural/civilized world. Different classes are more given to becoming intellectuals while different categories within these classes gravitate towards particular specializations.
                Superstructure levels: civilized society and political society. The ruling class works through political society and intellectuals are the deputies of the ruling class (function of the world of production). However, in the position of deputies some intellectuals are agents while others are visionaries