On Being a Cyborg

My primary computer was infected with a trojan several days ago, so I spent a large chunk of time this weekend working to eradicate it. Aside from feeling annoyed about the process in general–anger at whoever created the malware, trepidation about the damage it caused, frustration at the disruption of my plans in order to deal with the problem–I also found myself, my self feeling unsettled, as though it were actually my body that was infected.

I recognized this dis-ease as a symptom of the state of contemporary life which Donna Haraway describes in her “Cyborg Manifesto,” that is, having one’s selfhood extend outside of one’s physical body into the objects that seem essential to one’s existence (thus creating a cyborg–a being that is part-human, part human-made material), a state that is much more pronounced now than it was when Haraway was writing two decades ago. I have been well-aware for quite some time that my cyborg self extends at least as far as computers (especially as gateways to the internet), my cell phone, and my book collection, but every time I have a fresh reminder it scares me a little bit just how dependent I am on material objects.

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