Fruitful Couplings

Personally, one of the most interesting aspects of a popular and enduring symbol of dualism, the ‘Yin and Yang’, has always been, not the perfect curvature of the line dividing the two aspects, but rather the two dots, or as I like to see them, the eyes of contrasting colors within contrasting colors. Suggesting not static division, but rather a tacit understanding and/or acceptance of dynamic blends inherent in all things; perhaps a better representation, difficult if not impossible to show on a two dimensional canvas, would be an undulating exchange of the two colors, showcasing the constant activity along the sinuous border. This is one of the reasons I enjoyed Donna Haraway’s cyborg imagery and representation of dualism within her manifesto.

Right out of the gate, she implores the reader to consider the benefits an escape from rigid dualism might provide, she says that she is “making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality suggesting some very fruitful couplings.” (Haraway 1). It was hard not to think of Bruno Latour given the number of his readings we’ve delved into this semester; his “We Have Never Been Modern” being the most relevant to the preceding quote. And again, later on the same page Haraway admits that, “[t]his chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for the responsibility of their construction”, which of course brought to mind the second Latour reading, “It’s Development, stupid! or: How to Modernize Modernization” (1). Both of those readings offer an escape from the futility of dualisms if we are willing to do the, not too difficult, work of accepting that there is much to be gained by living on the edge, so to speak. I think this gets to the heart of the purpose of this course, or rather (before I go making assumptions on Professor Savarese’s motivations) this gets to the heart of why I took this course. Science and Literature?; as I read the course title and description it sounded like a zany experiment to me, like someone attempting to mix oil and water, but I also felt it had the potential to be like the melding of bacon and chocolate. So I went for it. I was not disappointed. As has been far more eloquently and convincingly stated by most of the author’s we’ve read this semester these seemingly polarized fields have a lot to offer one another and each sits at the ready to provide, “fresh sources of power”, to the other (Haraway 7). The use of cyborgs in her manifesto, I feel, are an excellent choice to represent the apprehension, anxiety, or fear of this emulsification. Further, they are also the perfect conduit to show the irrationality intrinsic to those feelings. Haraway states, “The machine is us, our processes, and aspect of our embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they” (12). We need not be afraid of the “monsters” we create, they can be nurtured, corrected, and improved upon so that they continue to be an extension of ourselves. But we must be willing to accept that the real action does take (and always has taken) place on the borders.

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