That brings us to the more usual encounters of dogs and cyborgs, in which their supposed enmity is onstage. Dan Piraro's Bizarro Sunday cartoon from 1999 caught the rules of engagement perfectly. Welcoming the attendees, the small dog keynote speaker at the American Association of Lapdogs points to the illuminated slide of an open laptop computer, solemnly intoning, "Ladies and Gentlemen. . . behold the enemy!" The pun that simultaneously joins and separates lapdogs and laptops is wonderful, and it opens a world of inquiry. A real dog person might first ask how capacious human laps can actually be for holding even sizable pooches and a computer at the same time. That sort of question tends to arise in the late afternoon in a home office if a human being is still at the computer and neglecting important obligations to go for a walk with the effectively importuning beast-no-longer-on-the-floor. However, more philosophically weighty, if not more practically urgent, questions also lurk in this Bizarro cartoon.
Modernist versions of humanism and posthumanism alike have taproots in a series of what Bruno Latour calls the Great Divides between what counts as nature and as society, as nonhuman and as human.10 Whelped in the Great Divides, the principal Others to Man, including his "posts," are well documented in ontological breed registries in both
past and present Western cultures: gods, machines, animals, monsters, creepy crawlies, women, servants and slaves, and noncitizens in general. Outside the security checkpoint of bright reason, outside the apparatuses of reproduction of the sacred image of the same, these "others" have a remarkable capacity to induce panic in the centers of power and self-certainty. Terrors are regularly expressed in hyperphilias and hyperpho-bias, and examples of this are no richer than in the panics roused by the Great Divide between animals (lapdogs) and machines (laptops) in the early twenty-first century c.E.
Technophilias and technophobias vie with organophilias and organophobias, and taking sides is not left to chance. If one loves organic nature, to express a love of technology makes one suspect. If one finds cyborgs to be promising sorts of monsters, then one is an unreliable ally in the fight against the destruction of all things organic.11 I was quite personally made to understand this point at a professional meeting, a wonderful conference called "Taking Nature Seriously" in 2001, at which I was a keynote speaker. I was subjected to a fantasy of my own public rape by name in a pamphlet distributed by a small group of self-identified deep ecology, anarchist activists, because, it seemed, my commitment to the mixed organic-technological hybrids figured in cyborgs made me worse than a researcher at Monsanto, who at least claims no alliance with ecofeminism. I am made to recall those researchers even at Monsanto who may well take antiracist environmental feminism seriously and to imagine how alliances might be built with them. I was also in the presence of the many deep ecologists and anarchists who have no truck with the action or analysis of my hecklers' self-righteous and incurious stance. In addition to reminding me that I am a woman (see the Great Divides above)—something class and color privilege bonded to professional status can mute for long periods of time—the rape scenario reminded me forcibly why I seek my siblings in the nonarboreal, laterally communicating, fungal shapes of the queer kin group that finds lapdogs and laptops in the same commodious laps.
At one of the conference panels, I heard a sad man in the audience say that rape seems a legitimate instrument against those who rape the earth; he seemed to regard this as an ecofeminist position, to the horror of the men and women of that political persuasion in the room. Everyone
I heard at the session thought the guy was slightly dangerous and definitely politically embarrassing, but mainly crazy in the colloquial sense if not the clinical. Nonetheless, the quasi-psychotic panic quality of the man's threatening remarks is worth some attention because of the way the extreme shows the underside of the normal. In particular, this would-be rapist-in-defense-of-mother-earth seems shaped by the culturally normal fantasy of human exceptionalism. This is the premise that humanity alone is not a spatial and temporal web of interspecies dependencies. Thus, to be human is to be on the opposite side of the Great Divide from all the others and so to be afraid of—and in bloody love with—what goes bump in the night. The threatening man at the conference was well marinated in the institutionalized, long dominant Western fantasy that all that is fully human is fallen from Eden, separated from the mother, in the domain of the artificial, deracinated, alienated, and therefore free. For this man, the way out of his culture's deep commitments to human exceptionalism requires a one-way rapture to the other side of the divide. To return to the mother is to return to nature and stand against Man-the-Destroyer, by advocating the rape of women scientists at Monsanto, if available, or of a traitorous keynote environmentalist feminist, if one is on the spot.
Freud is our great theorist of panics of the Western psyche, and because of Derrida's commitment to track down "the whole anthropomorphic reinstitution of the superiority of the human order over the animal order, of the law over the living," he is my guide to Freud's approach on this question.12 Freud described three great historical wounds to the primary narcissism of the self-centered human subject, who tries to hold panic at bay by the fantasy of human exceptionalism. First is the Copernican wound that removed Earth itself, man's home world, from the center of the cosmos and indeed paved the way for that cosmos to burst open into a universe of inhumane, nonteleological times and spaces. Science made that decentering cut. The second wound is the Darwinian, which put Homo sapiens firmly in the world of other critters, all trying to make an earthly living and so evolving in relation to one another without the sureties of directional signposts that culminate in Man.13 Science inflicted that cruel cut too. The third wound is the Freudian, which posited an unconscious that undid the primacy of conscious processes, including the reason that comforted Man with his unique excellence, with dire consequences for teleology once again. Science seems to hold that blade too. I want to add a fourth wound, the informatic or cyborgian, which infolds organic and technological flesh and so melds that Great Divide as well.
Is it any wonder that in every other election cycle the Kansas Board of Education wants this stuff out of the science text books, even if almost all of modern science has to go to accomplish this suturing of rending wounds to the coherence of a fantastic, but well-endowed, being? Notoriously, in the last decade voters in Kansas elected opponents of teaching Darwinian evolution to the state board in one election and then replaced them in the next cycle with what the press calls moderates.14 Kansas is not exceptional; it figured more than half the public in the United States in 2006.15 Freud knew Darwinism is not moderate, and a good thing too. Doing without both teleology and human exceptionalism is, in my opinion, essential to getting laptops and lapdogs into one lap. More to the point, these wounds to self-certainty are necessary, if not yet sufficient, to no longer easily uttering the sentence in any domain, "Ladies and gentlemen, behold the enemy!" Instead, I want my people, those collected by figures of mortal relatedness, to go back to that old political button from the late 1980s, "Cyborgs for earthly survival," joined to my newer bumper sticker from Bark magazine, "Dog is my co-pilot." Both critters ride the earth on the back of the Darwin fish.16
That cyborg and dog come together in the next professional meeting in these introductions. A few years ago, Faye Ginsburg, an eminent anthropologist and filmmaker and the daughter of Benson Ginsburg, a pioneering student of canine behavior, sent me a cartoon by Warren Miller from the March 29, 1993, New Yorker. Faye's childhood had been spent with the wolves her father studied in his lab at the University of Chicago and the animals at the Jackson Memorial Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine, where J. P. Scott and J. L. Fuller also carried out their famous inquiries into dog genetics and social behavior from the late 1940s.17 In the cartoon a member of a wild wolf pack introduces a con-specific visitor wearing an electronic communications pack, complete with an antenna for sending and receiving data, with the words, "We found her wandering at the edge of the forest. She was raised by scientists." A
student of Indigenous media in a digital age, Faye Ginsburg was easily drawn to the join of ethnography and communications technology in Miller's cartoon. Since childhood a veteran of integrating into wolf social life through the rituals of polite introductions, she was triply hailed. She is in my kin group in feminist theory as well, and so it is no surprise that I find myself also in that female telecommunications-packing wolf. This figure collects its people through friendship networks, animal-human histories, science and technology studies, politics, anthropology and animal behavior studies, and the New Yorker's sense of humor.
This wolf found at the edge of the forest and raised by scientists figures who I find myself to be in the world—that is, an organism shaped by a post-World War II biology that is saturated with information sciences and technologies, a biologist schooled in those discourses, and a practitioner of the humanities and ethnographic social sciences. All three
"Wefound her wandering at the edge of the forest. She was raised by scientists."
Warren Miller, from CartoonBank.com. Copyright The New Yorker collection, 1993. All rights reserved.
of those subject formations are crucial to this book's questions about worldliness and touch across difference. The found wolf is meeting other wolves, but she cannot take her welcome for granted. She must be introduced, and her odd communications pack must be explained. She brings science and technology into the open in this forest. The wolf pack is politely approached, not invaded, and these wolves will decide her fate. This pack is not one of florid wild-wolf nature fantasies, but a savvy,
Faye Ginsburg and the wolf Remus greeting and playing in Benson Ginsburg's laboratory at the University of Chicago. Published in Look magazine, "A Wolf Can Be a Girl's Best Friend," by Jack Star, 1963. Photograph by Archie Lieberman. Look Magazine Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-L9-60-8812, frame 8.
cosmopolitan, curious lot of free-ranging canids. The wolf mentor and sponsor of the visitor is generous, willing to forgive some degree of ignorance, but it is up to the visitor to learn about her new acquaintances. If all goes well, they will become messmates, companion species, and significant others to one another, as well as conspecifics. The scientist-wolf will send back data as well as bring data to the wolves in the forest. These encounters will shape naturecultures for them all.
A great deal is at stake in such meetings, and outcomes are not guaranteed. There is no teleological warrant here, no assured happy or unhappy ending, socially, ecologically, or scientifically. There is only the chance for getting on together with some grace. The Great Divides of animal/human, nature/culture, organic/technical, and wild/domestic flatten into mundane differences—the kinds that have consequences and demand respect and response—rather than rising to sublime and final ends.
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