Brooding on Cybersexualities

A fantastic (albeit now slightly dated) collection of essays, Cybersexualities: A Reader on Feminist Theory Cyborgs and Cyberspace, has helped narrow my studies into these fears/fascinations with new forms of corporeality.  In particular, the essays by Claudia Springer and Zoe Sofia have thrown up some interesting points around the connections that can be drawn between technology, and the concept of the mother.  Some quotes:

from Springer’s The Pleasure of the Interface

‘To quote the science fiction author J. G. Ballard again:

I believe that organic sex, body against body, skin area against skin area, is becoming no longer possible…  What we’re getting is a whole new order if sexual fantasies, involving a different order of experiences, like car crashes, like travelling in a jet aircraft, the whole overlay of new technologies, architecture, interior design, communications, transport, merchandising.  These things are beginning to reach into our lives and change the interior design of our sexual fantasies.’ (34)

‘Huyssen contends that historically, technology was not always linked to female sexuality: the two became associated after the beginning of the nineteenth century just as machines came to be perceived as threatening entities capable of vast, uncontrollable destruction.’ (36)

‘The word matrix, in fact, originates in the Latin mater (meaning both mother and womb), and the first of its several definitions in Websters is ‘something within which something else originates or develops.’  Computers in popular culture’s cyborg imagery extend to us the thrill of metaphoric escape into the comforting security of our mother’s womb, which, as Freud explained, represents our earliest Hein (home).  According to Freud, when we have an unheimlich (uncanny) response to something, we are feeling the simultaneous attraction and dread evoked by the womb, where we experienced our earliest living moment at the same time that our insentience resembled death.  It was Freud’s contention that we are constituted by a death wish as well as by the pleasure principle; and popular culture’s cyborg imagery effectively fuses the two desires.’ (37) (a very important segment to me)

‘patriarchy continues to uphold gender difference.’ (41) (summation of a good passage)

‘The emphasis on cerebral sexuality suggests that while pain is a meat thing, sex is not.’ (44)

Baudrillard saying good things:

‘the Other, the sexual or cognitive interlocuter, is never really aimed at  – crossing the screen evokes the crossing of the mirror.  The screen itself is targeted as the point of interface.  The machine (the interactive screen) transforms the process of communication, the relation from one to the other, into a process of communication, i.e. the process of reversibility from the same to the same.  The secret of the interface is that the Other is withing it virtually the Same – otherness being surreptitiously confiscated by the machine.’ (44)

John Perry Barlow is cited for his writing on Virtual Reality, calling it a ‘Disneyland for epistemologists’, and that it will ‘further expose the concept that “reality” is a fact… delivering another major hit to the old fraud of objectivity.’ (45)

‘In a world without human bodies, the films tell us, technological things will be gendered and there will still be a patriarchal hierarchy.  What this reconfiguration of masculinity indicates is that patriarchy is more willing to dispense with human life than with male superiority.’ (49)

Sofia’s Virtual Corporeality: A Feminist View

‘Synecdoche is what allows the disembodied, alienated, objective rationality of a certain gender, class, ethnicity, and historical epoch to be vaunted as universal, while other styles and components of rationality – such as embodiment, situatedness, emotion – are ignored or dismissed as non-rational… a computer exemplifies this narrow but powerful way of knowing.’ (57)

Too much of this essay has been marked out in pink highlighter.  I’ll get round to discussing it here, by myself, at a later date.  In the meantime:


I sketched out some immediate responses to ‘mother’ – it’s important for me, never having been a biological mother of any kind, to attempt to explore how it feels to have this life growing inside you.  Drawing often helps me get some kind of grasp of emotions I don’t understand – this exercise helped especially in trying to wrap my mind around the physicality of the gestation period.  The bodies felt alien to draw; strange and lovely.  I’ll do some more of these.  Gustav Klimt is an inescapable influence.  I want so much to become this literate with texture, colour, line and figure drawing.



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