martes, 8 de marzo de 2016

Sci-Fi short story: The Cyborg

The Cyborg
By Victor Hernandez

“And so, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

The audience applauded except for a young woman in the front row who, instead, kept her hand raised while everybody else clapped.

“Uh… yes?”

“Yeah, quick question. You said in your essay that, and I quote, ‘cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualism in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia.”


“Yeah, so I was wondering, Mac or PC?”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, which hardware would you use to be a cyborg? Mac or PC?”

“Well, I…”

“And what OS would you use for any mobile components? iOS or Android?”

“Uhm… I…”

“And if you picked PC, what processor? Intel or AMD?”

“The… say that again?”

“Yeah, and what about the graphics card? nVidia or ATI Radeon?”

“What’s a graphic…? What?”

“Yeah, suppose also that cyborgs only used digital money. Bitcoin or Litecoin?”

“I’m not sure I…”

“What about the speakers? JBL or Harman Kardon?”


“The camera sensors? Canon or Red One?”

“I really don’t understand where you’re trying to get at with these questions.”

“Yeah, a cyborg is made of organic tissue, hardware and software to operate the hardware. I’m just asking which hardware and software would you use in order to be a cyborg. Mac or PC?”

“What’s a PC?”

“Personal Computer. It’s the nickname given to computers that use Windows based operating systems.”

“And a Mac?”

“Apple brand computers.”

“Well, the essay is not about brands, but about the issue of overcoming the duality in the perception of our bodies and…”

“Yeah, so Mac or PC?”

“I just don’t see how is that relevant.”

“Well, you can’t use Mac software on a PC and vice versa. They’re not compatible.”

“The essay is not about computers. It’s about our bodies and…”

“But you did say you wanted to be a cyborg. Cyborgs by definition require hardware and software. So which one would you rather use? Mac or PC? iOS or Android?”

The speaker exhaled deeply and looked down at the papers in the lectern to try to hide her exasperation.

“Look, I really don’t know. Something in between I guess?”

“But there isn’t anything in between. Unless you want to use a third party OS like Unix, but then you also need specific hardware for Unix. Or unless you want to run Linux, but then you need to use a PC because running Linux on a Mac is not that simple.”

“Okay, I don’t know. What do you want me to say? I don’t know.”

“But you wrote about cyborgs. That’s the title of your essay, right? A Cyborg Manifesto?”

“God… Look we’re really out of time. Thank you all for coming. Good day.”

“Miss Haraway? Hello?”

“She’s gone already, kid,” a woman told her as she got up from her seat.

The girl who raised her hand and made questions also got up from her seat and walked smiling into the bathroom. She entered the stall and typed something on a pad. She vanished out of thin air and reappeared inside a control room.

“You’re such a prick, Elsa,” another young woman said to the one who had just materialized in the control room. “You know perfectly well Donna Haraway wrote that essay in the early 1980s to try to get feminists to think about mixing ideas of what a woman could be instead of picking just one archetype.”

“Well, she should’ve done more research, Zoe. I mean, jeez! Who the fuck picks computers to fight duality? She had IBM and Apple right there as an example. It’s SO fucking stupid!”

Zoe rolled her eyes and typed something into her control station.

“Where do we go now?”

“Let’s go to 1979. I want to heckle feminist artist Judy Chicago during the opening of her The Dinner Party installation.”


“Oh come on! She put a bunch of sculptures of vaginas on plates on three tables arranged to form a triangle. That was her ‘epic’ installation. Wouldn’t you just love to ask her if feminism means eating pussy?”

“You’re such a prick, Elsa…”

“Third-Wave feminist with a time machine, if you please.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned about the Cyborg Manifesto and about Judy Chicago in my art classes when I was in college. The Cyborg Manifesto has always seemed really dumb to me because there isn't compatibility between operating systems and sometimes between hardware, so one has to pick one or the other, completely contradicting the point Haraway was trying to make. As per Judy Chicago, well, I thought her Dinner Party was funny and her brand of feminism quaint. I prefer Third Wave feminism and I consider myself a Third Wave feminist. Judy Chicago fits in what is known in Women's Studies seminars as Second Wave feminism, which a pretty narrow view of what women are. Third Wave feminism is much more open and flexible to women's view of themselves, establishing that women should be able to decide what to do with their lives without anyone telling them not to. Even Second Wave feminists.

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