There is much to digest in the Hayles text. After reading Posthuman I have a new appreciation and understanding for the electronic literature she discussed in her previous book we discussed. As Will mentioned, much of her theory in this book hinges on the necessity of interpenetration. Her discussion throughout the early chapters (particularly in Chapter One) about the blurring, bending, reversing (and so on…) of boundaries that we impose on the world in order to better understand the world (8) depend on the interpenetration of ideas. This interpenetration I understand when it comes to terms such as reflexivity (8), objectivist view (9), virtuality (13) etc but where I am still unclear is when it comes to the idea of posthuman. On pages 1-2 Hayles lays out a very general list of the posthuman state…

1) privileges informational pattern over material instantiation
2) consciousness is just the beginning
3) body is the original prostheses we learn to manipulate
4) configures humans so they can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines

And from this list of characteristics of posthuman we are to come to the conclusion that there is no difference between bodily existence and computer simulation. Where I become confused in this list of characteristics is with 1 and 4. If the posthuman privileges informational patterns over material instantiation is there not the hierarchy that she talks about on page 12 in place?…

“a hierarchy is created in which information is given a dominant position and materiality runs a distant second” (12)

If a hierarchy exists can there be a seamless articulation between humans and intelligent machines?

Another area I am fuzzy in and I am sure that this is one of the more important theories to understand in the book (which I am hoping will become more clear as I finish up the later chapters) is the idea of the flickering signifier. So Hayles defines the flickering signifier as being able to “extend the productive force of codes beyond the text to include the signifying processes by which the technologies produce texts, as well as the interfaces that enmesh humans into integrated circuits. As the circuits connecting technology, text, and human expand and intensify, the point where quantitative increments shade into qualitative transformation draws closer” (46-47). So are we to look at the flickering signifier as one that will not only contain the signifying process but also subjectivity? This is my initial understanding of flickering signifier especially when I take into account her heavy emphasis on interpenetration…

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