The posthuman is a hybrid between human and machine

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hierarchy between these concepts possible. The posthuman is a hybrid between human and machine, which ends the hierarchical rift between these two entities. As Latour has argued in We Have Never Been Modern : ‘ We should stop to distinguish the hybrid by conceiving it as a mixture of two pure forms’ (78). Within the realm of cybernetics, Hayles has seen a development towards virtuality; especially for users of computers who may not know the material processes of a computer involved (who regard the computer as a black box), the impression is created that pattern is predominant over presence ( Posthuman 19). Hayles argues that from the idea of preferring patterns over presence, it only take a small to step to perceiving information as more mobile, more important, more essential than material forms. When this impression becomes part of our cultural mindset, we have entered the condition of virtuality ( Posthuman 19). Hayles seems to make a distinction here between ‘normal users’ of computers and people who ‘know the processes involved’ , meaning programmers, high- tech developers and researchers. At first, this differentiation seems to be one of Hayles’s dated views on technological culture, but even for the moment of publication this division is a curious 1 As early as 1984, Donna Haraway had already first mentioned and theorized upon the ‘cyborg; ‘the hybrid of machine and organism’ in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women.
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14 move. Even in 1999, thirty million Americans were already ‘plugged into the Internet’, meaning that average users must outnumber the specialists ( Posthuman 20). This thesis does not underline this distinction, since ‘knowing the material processes involved’ does not have any relevance for interpreting and understanding cultural representations of virtuality. Hayles argues that in cybernetics, informatics and cyberspace, the emphasis on information technologies foregrounds pattern and randomness and pushes presence and absence into the background. One of the most serious implication for Hayles, is a systematic devaluation of materiality and embodiment. Implicit is the assumption that presence and pattern are opposites existing in antagonistic relation. An entirely different reading emerges when one entertains the possibility that pattern and presence are mutually enhancing and supportive. This thesis opens up the possibility of seeing pattern and presence as complementary rather than antagonistic. It is surprising that Hayles for whom the posthuman most importantly signifies ‘a rethinking’ of, among others, the human technology relations, has never really revisited the statements made in How We Became Posthuman in relation to Web 2.0 and cultural representations. In her later books, she addressed the development from print to electronic texts and the boundaries between the two ( Writing Machines, 2002; Electronic Literature: New Horizons of the Literary, 2008), the cultural implications of nanotechnology ( NanoCulture, 2004), and the neurological, biological
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