Though we all chuckled a little when one of the interviewees in Taylor’s documentary said that we had evolved as humans because of our anti slavery stance and child labor laws. However, it got me thinking. It wasn’t too long ago when a slave was counted as 3/5of a person, and children were simply seen as mini adults. Our idea of a person, or at least a person that deserves rights, as it seemed to make quite a change since even the 19th century.
I have become interested in the queer theory that Akbari discusses in her book review. As she notes in reference to Giffney and Hird’s Queering the Non/Human, their overarching topic is “a problematization – a ‘queering’ – of the human, understood both affirmatively (Human) and through negation (Non/Human)” (Akbari, 276). Through this definition, which does not seem to explicitly deal with hetero/homo-sexualities, I hope to draw specific examples of how the queer-ness (or non-assimilationist) of Marie de France’s Bisclavret and the Cylons in Battlestar Gallactica is merely a social construct.
Although the werewolf of Bisclavret was at one point a human, while he dwells in the forest without clothes he is of another form and cannot be physically seen as human. It takes his compassion and his human-like characteristics for him to be seen as the human he once was. Although not the same, the cylons have a similar predicament. They were at one point, when the humans had last seen them, anti-human (large robots that performed basic tasks). When they returned to their planet of creation, they were nearly indistinguishable, but since there are only a few different models, their cylon-ness is distinguishable. This factor of distinction is blurred when emotions are at play. At moments like this even the most racist (in an anti-cylon way) humans seem to connect with these non-humans.
These examples allow for us to see both sides of the problematization of the human that Giffney and Hird discuss; Bisclavret is the negation of a human by appearing as a beast, and the cylons affirm the appearance of a human although they are not technically a part of the human race.
I will also be looking to texts such as Bergwinkles’s Queer Theory and the Middle Ages, Murphy’s Considering Different Ways: In(ter)secting Martriachal Utopias and Joy and Neufeld’s A Confession of Faith: Notes toward New Humanism.
When we first began to look at the medieval texts, I didn’t really understand how the importance of embodiment was supported in the same way it was in the modern critical texts we have studied. It seemed confusing to me that highlighting the connectedness of the human to the unseen divine could result in the emphasis of a concept grounded in tangibility. A major problem for Christianity in the origin of its theology was figuring out how to relate the spiritual realm to the material world and explaining their interaction in ways that man could comprehend.
Something that really stuck out to me in our discussion on Thursday was our construction of what defines intelligence, whether we are referencing human or machine. How we define intelligence in a broad sense directly correlates to the legitimization or rejection of artificial intelligence. Continue reading
In class on Thursday, there was a lot of discussion about what kind of ‘intellect’ is valued, which was defined in terms of rationality, science, math, mostly fact-based, something that gives definitive answers. Continue reading
I find it so interesting that the “father of cybernetics” struggled with the same issues about the posthuman that we have been discussing and unpacking in our class. On one hand Weiner envisioned “powerful new ways to equate humans and machines,” yet he “also struggled to envision the cybernetic machine in the image of a humanistic self.” I often feel similarly conflicted when we are discussing the boundaries between human and machine and what “human” rights they would be entitled to if a superhuman was intergrated into our society. Hayles lays out the standard values of liberal humanism to be “a coherent, rational self, the right of that self to autonomy and freedom, and a sense of agency linked with a belief in enlightened interest,” yet many of the authors and scientists she discusses question those same rights in relation to the cyborg. Continue reading
After watching the epidsode 13 from season 2 of Battlestar Galactica, I am interested in the way the writers of the t.v. series explore the theme of uncertainty in this epidsode. Unlike many states of human emotion we have learned to alter or cheat through technologies, uncertainty is one of those feeling in the realm of technologically untouchables. Uncertainty just is, and the human mind is incapable of willing it away. Uncertainty lingers, and leaves one unsettled. As it is such an obscure emotion, it is a wonder why human beings often act on it. Though acting on uncertainty seems unethical, the President Rosalind on BSG attempts to act on this unclear emotion throughout the show, demonstrating how helpless man can be in spite of his many resources. Continue reading
I am struck by the religious aspect of the television series, Battlestar Galactica. After viewing episode 8 of season 1 from the series, what has stuck with me is the way the cylon approached the topic of religion during his interrogation. The cylon said to his interrogator, “to know the face of God is to know madness,” before explaining that God created cylons to punish man. His idea presented an interesting theory about man’s use of technology – that man’s role in the development of technological advances is but a role, a predestined task to influence a predetermined demise. And the man pulling the puppet strings is none other than God, the creator. Continue reading
Hayle’s analysis of the work of Philip K. Dick generated a great deal of questions for me about how the definition of core “human like” characteristics evolve not only in society, but on a personal level as well. Continue reading
“The ultimate horror for the individual is to remain trapped “inside” a world constructed by another being for the other’s own profit” (Hayles 162). This quote from chapter seven of Hayle’s book is a horror that many characters (thought in different ways have had to grapple with in the literature and movies we have examined thus far in class. In this post I will examine three selections that have characters who are stuck on the “inside.” Continue reading