(Cross-posted at Ordinary Times.)
This post is unsatisfactory. Continue reading “Electric Atomic Geography”
Donna Haraway’s ironic, binary busting cyborg has deeply influenced the study of the relationship between the human and the technological since she published A Cyborg Manifesto in 1985. Providing a template for her cyborg was the 1961 paper by Nathan S. Kline and Manfred Clynes (K&C) Drugs, Space and Cybernetics: Evolution to Cyborgs.
K&C’s purpose was to find a path to a space-exploring society unencumbered by the technologically unmediated bodies of “man” poorly evolved to living in a vacuum.
Haraway repurposed this to theorize the path to a feminist-liberatory society unencumbered by technologically unmediated female bodies poorly evolved to living in the patriarchy. She redefined “cyborg” as a hybrid made to live not in outer space but in the space of social reality. Continue reading “Disabled Cyborgs In Space”
About a year after my brain injury, things had improved and stabilized enough for me to consider finding something to do with myself. We had a good, although somewhat out of date, 35mm camera. We had gotten reasonably proficient with it years before, but had been in the closet for longer than we had used it
Over that year, I had learned the path to relative success with tasks was to break them down to their simplest parts and then to stretch their execution out over as much time as possible. Continue reading “The Photography Paradox”
I just ran across a post, Remembering Charles O’Hara at Blau Stern Shwartz Shlonge. The post describes Blau’s memories of Charles O’Hara, and asks others to share theirs. A small part of the post follows:
I first met the late Charles O’Hara in the late 1980s to early 1990s. My Buddhist friend back then, Dave K, and I would drive the 150 miles or so from Harrisburg to the little town of Susquehanna Pennsylvania, just south of the border near Binghamton NY and along the thin northern branch of the Susquehanna river.
We would park in the back and walk up through the yard to the back porch which had huge crates from Nepal stacked all over. It turned out he was a major purveyor and importer of mostly Tibetan Buddhist items from Nepal and northern India, and was a major supplier for Snow Lion, some people there still remembering him.
…Why am I writing about him here 20 years later? Because I think about him often, and I am surrounded by items I purchased from him, and I was recently going through a photo album and found these pictures.
If anyone who reads this remembers Charles O’Hara, or even has a picture of him, I would love to hear from you.
I never met Charles, but my wife and I bought a statue from his daughter (we don’t remember her name) as he lay dying.
I had encephalitis in 1994 that resulted in my brain injuries. We had an interest in Buddhism for years, but this event gave a certain urgency to the interest where before there was mainly curiosity. By the next year, we visited Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca which had just opened. I don’t remember how we heard about Charles, but at some point Karen called , spoke to hs daughter and arranged a time for us to go there.
When we found the house in Susquehanna, we weren’t sure it was the right place. No one answered the front door so we went around to the back, a big dog, fenced in, barking and snarling at us. We knocked and his daughter answered. She apologized for the chaos of the place and explained her father was dying, quite near death in fact. We asked if we should leave. Graciously she said no and showed us around.
She said the dog wasn’t usually so aggressive. She laughed and said his name was Buddha. (On the way home, I asked Karen if she thought Buddha had Buddha Nature).
Charles’ daughter said she herself was not a Buddhist, but would continue the business. She left us to tend to her father. We wandered around among the myriad statues arranged on the floor of several rooms kinda freaked out by all statues of various Buddhist wrathful deities in sexual union with their consorts. Eventually, we picked out a statue and a wooden mask I now know to be Amitabha and Mahakala.
She returned and said she wasn’t sure which Buddha the statue was. Word finding and talking were quite difficult at that point, so I said “I think he is Sukiyaki” meaning Shakyamuni. Maybe she missed a beat, but was very kind, saying, “I’m sure that’s it.”
The following year we wanted to buy another statue. When Karen called, Charles’ daughter said she had sold the business and everything was gone. I later learned that the name of the business is Tibetan Spirit.
As I said, we never met Charles,but we will never forget him.
I had intended to write here quite a bit more than I have on disability. This is really saying something. Eighteen years ago I had viral encephalitis. It damaged mainly my temporal and parietal lobes. Making any kind of statement is remarkable.
For most of that time, I did not have much of a disability identity. While I had various and sometimes overwhelming reactions to what had happened, I rarely used the word “disabled” itself. It was more like “Something happened” followed by various negative emotions mixed in with a lot of confusion, mixed in with a kind of clarity I struggle to explain.
The word I’m most likely to use in my own head is “brokenness”.
This brokenness is certainly the loss of function, of ability. I have trouble making sense. Whatever eloquence I attain here requires a lot of effort and leaves me both exhausted and in pain from the effort. Sometimes I just talk repeating myself in increasingly tighter circles. Suddenly seeing a clock I might realize that 15 minutes had passed. Seeing the worry on my listener’s face, I wonder if it had been all gibberish or “just” a semantic vortex.
This is from a general difficulty processing information, rather than extensive damage to my speech centers – although there is some of that. Whether the information comes from raw external stimuli, my own mental processes or a combination of the two doesn’t matter. My experiences of time, object permanence and memory are all impaired, altered, something different. So I have trouble both making sense and making sense of.
But this brokenness is also a breaking open, a kind of general breaking open of how things are, the beautiful assault I’ve referred to before. I would have never chosen it, but there it is.
Identity does not contradict non self, the third mark of existence in Buddhism. A cyborg ages and changes in both her animal and machine parts. With this impermanence, his identity at some point also changes. Sagging body parts, brain lesions, a repaired knee, a new cell phone, a crashed hard drive, death, rebirth, the list as varied as endless, as beginingless.
Moment to moment, usually, these changes are too small for the cyborg to sense. Or this has been true. Our machine parts are getting more and more sensitive in measuring these changes. Our machine parts are getting more and more refined in categorizing and comparing these changes, of making them Information, of never losing the Information.
What complex of past actions and turbulent emotions have landed us in this realm? At some point does the Cyborg Realm become distinct from the Human Realm? Will the Information Realm become distinct from the Cyborg Realm?
More questions I don’t have anwers for.