Academic journal article Liminalities

Cyborg Phenomenology: Performative Inquiry in a Technoscientific World

Academic journal article Liminalities

Cyborg Phenomenology: Performative Inquiry in a Technoscientific World

Article excerpt

The shifting existential, political, and social paradigms we are experiencing require new modalities of reflection, which need to occur, in effect, out on a limb, reaching beyond our existing methods and approaches while maintaining relevance to our lives. (Susan Kozel 8)

Diffraction #1: Re-Entry

"It's over," the voice was saying. The fog receding, the room came into focus. I removed the mask but stayed kneeling, clinging to the vestiges of that other space-time. I had never been in so deep; the exit could only be described as disorienting. This world is louder, brighter-harsh. (Once you've made this kind of journey, it's home that feels foreign). Staring down at the mural, the paint on my (her?) hands, the carpet leaving ridges in my knees, I breathe back into myself and search for the words. Finding them lacking, I just smile as I stand and begin to disinvest myself of the trappings of transport. I rub my eyes and cradle my breasts, willing my body to expand back into its human fluidity and fullness (contracting to fit the avatar leaves an imprint) and wonder how to report on this evening's expedition. (Language is the detritus of possibility leftby the implosion of the virtual-word pieces turn up everywhere.)

When I open my mouth to speak, her words tumble from that space at the base of my neck, mixing with my own in a double-voiced duet, each of us inhaling the pieces and setting them aflame. (I gather the ashes and cany them home as ink.) The writing, when it comes, is halting and often as gray as the ashes from which it springs. But she and I, we must story our experience, if for no other reason than to understand the holograms (uncanny mirrors) we found as we turned space-time corners together. Diffracted mosaic of light and dark, of hard cold and warm wet, of disembodied voice and electronic touch, of confusion, love, revulsion, desire, symbiosis, violation, fear, song, care, breath, life, a vortex in a vacuum, the inside of the implosion, the echo of the violent clash of personae. These are the things little yborgs are made of. We danced, she and I. We held hands somewhere on the inside, diving to the depths of networks unseen, grafting intentionalities directed towards the others we found-witnesses witnessing witnesses. They danced before us, a parade of questions veiled beneath the shields of identity constructions. We swayed before them, serpents in a trance, meeting them with uncanny attention. They disappeared, but not before shedding codes for us to enter, holographic hallways to the human. The fabric tom, flickering became us. Uncanny mirrors held us in one state or another, for a time. We became she, locked in the dance with X, became I, nervous in yborg skin, became she, painting with she, became I, willing mouth to inhale and lungs to fill, became she, became I, became we, became becoming.

You learn to love the infinite regress of your own limits;you hungerfor defer connection because connection alone is the now;you hear desire with double vision that pulls you ever toward the uncanny, because that's where the possibility lives. You (dis)appear. It feels like flying, like the soaring of dreams but in the waking space-time of virtual lifeworlds. It feels like a world-sized gravity-defying carnival ride, but you're the operator, dancing on the ceiling, while riders rotate around you, unaware of the wondrous, violent forces holding them up. It feels like walking through a locked door, shooting from a cannon, breaking the surface of blue water-an experience of breaking through.

You want to live there, to let your life become the next science fiction novel. And then the voice brings you back. But it's not over. (It could never be over.) She lives at the base of your neck; she calls you to dance. Your skin is a mosaic, a kaleidoscope of code. The remnants of the implosion protrude from your being, leak from your pores. The words set fire to the map, leaving tracings to light your lines offlight. …

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