Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism (Electronic Mediations, Volume 10)
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Otherness, alterity, the alien-over the course of the past fifty years many of us have based our hopes for more ethical relationships on concepts of difference. Combining philosophy, literary criticism, fiction, autobiography, and real and imagined correspondence, Ann Weinstone proposes that only when we stop ordering the other to be other-whether technological, animal, or simply inanimate-will we truly become posthuman.
Posthumanism has thus far focused nearly exclusively on human-technology relations. Avatar Bodies develops a posthumanist vocabulary for human-to-human relationships that turns our capacities for devotion, personality, and pleasure. Drawing on both the philosophies and practices of Indian Tantra, Weinstone argues for the impossibility of absolute otherness; we are all avatar bodies, consisting of undecidably shared gestures, skills, memories, sensations, beliefs, and affects.
Weinstone calls her book a "tantra"-by which she means a set of instructions for practices aimed at sensitizing the reader to the inherent permeability of self to other, self to world. This tantra for posthumanism elaborates devotional gestures that will expose us to more unfettered contacts and the transformative touch.
Ann Weinstone is assistant professor of literature and new media at Northwestern University and the winner of the 1994 Chelsea Award for Fiction.
cyborg is 6 Every Relation but One: Part I a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of ﬁction (, ). By disrupting notions of a stable, autonomous, uniquely human self, posthumanist theorists hope to create the conditions for the emergence of less hierarchical and less violent social and political relationships. However, for those speciﬁcally working under the banner of posthumanism, hopes for mitigating human violence
exteriority (or interiority) as such. We need to get drunk with each other so we can become posthumanS. ᭢ Third City Kneeplay: The Wasp and the Orchid Cross a Letter Ψ The manifest world is made up of diﬀerent vibrations, diﬀerent combinations of sounds. . . . In the process of creating the world, the power of Consciousness manifests as these diﬀerent sound syllables, which we know as the diﬀerent letters of the alphabet. These letters are called matrikas. when it takes the form of the
These momentary pleasures hint at a capacity for ontological confusion that ultimately undermines an ethics based on concepts such as “radical” diﬀerence or “absolute” otherness. I call these moments of “weak” transcendence. Roland Barthes’s friend, the FrenchCuban Buddhist Tantric Severo Sarduy, calls the state of weak transcendence beeromania, a mild intoxication, that aspires only to the state of “happiness,” to momentary irresponsibility, to a letting go, around the brief noon hour, of the
tensions between rhetorics of delay, loss, and disconnection and rhetorics of the virtual that promise personal power, immortality, and instantaneity. This is especially true where e-mail correspondences between “strangers” are concerned. The uncertain “reality” status and authority of such relations is exacerbated by the fact that nothing has passed from hand to hand. . E-mail enables committed, “broadband” relationships. Compared to other modes of CMC, and more like the letter, e-mail is most
conceptions of human-technology relations that work to “unseat” the colonizer at the same time that they preserve altered notions of self-capacitation, autonomy, and creativity. Despite the fact that human relationships are posthumanism’s urgent concern, and, as I propose here, because of a pressing anxiety about human relationships and their inevitable violence, posthumanism has failed to develop a vocabulary with which it might speak of care, of responsibility. Instead, it tends to celebrate