As I read Hayles, I picked out some points at which she seems to agree with other authors in T&T (or at least addresses the same topics).  For example, she agrees with Lawrence Lessig: “The great dream and promise of information is that it can be free from the material constraints that govern the mortal world” (13).

Also, and more relevant to what we’ve covered in this class, she agrees with McGann in his belief that culture can be lost if materiality is lost: “The clear implication [of uploading and downloading human memories] is that if we can become the information we have constructed, we can achieve effective immortality” (13).  However, “In the face of such a powerful dream, it can be a shock to remember that for information to exist, it must always be instantiated in a medium” (13).   What this fantasy suggests is that, if we could represent our thoughts in bytes, we could become the medium that preserves the information, erasing the distance that exists between us and the information that traditional media attempt to fill with books, pictures, etc.  Certainly humans existing as data is a posthuman concept, and virtual worlds already try to represent this with avatars.  This topic shifts to Bolter and Grusin, who define and discuss the immediacy and hypermediacy of media.

Everything theoretical that Hayles talks about is defined with the word “interpenetrated”; it seems that things are only important or, indeed, theoretical to her if they influence or act upon one another.  Search Google for “hayles interpenetration” to see what I mean.  Below are several direct examples I’ve come across.

Hayles on virtuality (in Posthuman): “Virtuality is the cultural perception that material objects are interpenetrated by information patterns” or “flows of information” like the Internet (13-14).

Hayles on materiality (in Electronic Literature): “Both print and electronic texts” are “deeply interpenetrated by code”

Hayles on convergence (in My Mother was a Computer): “cinema and books are increasingly interpenetrated by digital techniques” (32)

I had trouble initially determining exactly what constituted posthuman.  I think the last few pages gave me my best definition.  Posthuman is the envisioning of the entire world (or even all of reality) as one interacting system: “when the human is seen as part of a distributed system, the full expression of human capability can be seen precisely to depend on the splice [between the solidity of real life on one side and the illusion of virtual reality on the other] rather than being imperiled by it” (290).  I guess the interaction between avatars in virtual spaces like Second Life or World of Warcraft embodies this definition of posthuman, in that the avatars and their players are interpenetrated by different real and virtual stimuli.

At times, Hayles waxes Kuhn-like.  One assertion of hers that particularly made me think this was her statement that “Every epoch has beliefs, widely accepted by contemporaries, that appear fantastic to later generations” (192).  Right now, materiality of the body, just like materiality of the text, seems an enduring belief that future generations may look upon as misguided as the posthuman takes a deeper hold on our conceptions of reality.  Already things like digital books and virtual worlds challenge that materiality that may one day be considered as archaic.

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