week 10 – summary

At the beginning of the week I felt I experienced a Moses and the Red Sea moment when reading Gough’s paper in which rhizomatic drift seemed to offer a theoretical platform for the journey ahead. The paper is inspirational: its meta approach, its creative drive, its conceptual depth.

Then, during the course of  the week, my mind turned towards angels and cyborgs, a very strange mix. Further readings confirmed that the idea of cyborg has now firmly moved on from the holywood style concept.

The skype session, combined with the planning ahead of the assignment brought me to a crossing and a stumble of various issues – YouTube, Love Sick, Cyborgs –  which so far I have not been able to settle due to lack of time (work and home pressures).

There followed confusion (and some despair) when reading Edwards’ outline of post-human inspired lifelong learning. Badminton offered further blurrings. A potential link with Heidegger and Dewey may bring relief in these theoretical landscapes.

My plans for next week is to re-read the earlier core reading papers (and accompanying blog)  to bring some clarity and an overview of the threads that have been running through the past 10 weeks.

A playful experiment with electric ants and my cat gave a first glimpse of how animals and computers interact, a further proof curiosity is not just a characteristic of one species.


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Post-humanism and lifelong learning


Post-humanism refers to an enactment that deconstructs the  separation of subjects and objects and, with that, the focus on the human subject  as either a representative of an essentialised human nature or in a state of constant  becoming.

A post-human intervention points to the constant material entanglement of the human and non-human in the enactment of the world, and thus the
problematic status of subjects and objects as separate from one another

Richard Edwards, The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring 2010


image above – Whilst checking out various references, I decided to check ‘ontology’. Interestingly the definition was not the only info that was presented. A rich data stream confronted me: video, audio, more advertising, facts, related and what seems unrelated items are brought to the from, all vying for attention on my laptop screen.

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Of angels, cyborgs and the web

Raphael                    Himmel uber Berlin        Angel of the North    Fighting angel in computer game

Whilst reading the article by Rob Shields, Flanerie for Cyborgs, a sentence caught my eye:

How are categories of identity – such as the feminine – distributed in changing ways across  not only reproductive bodies but objects and virtualities from angels to voice-based digital intefaces? (p218).

Angel… a disembodied entity which crosses the virtual and the real?

I suddenly became (totally) pre-occupied by angels…. I wondered if in my earlier post the suggestion of the representation of ‘angels as early cyborgs’ is perhaps not too extreme after all…

I checked wikipedia and here is explained that the theological study of angels is known as “angelology”. Angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence.

In western art, angels have been depicted  since Byzantium times, all the way through medieval art, renaissance… indeed in recent times (Angel of the North, Himmel uber Berlin and an image from a game – reference unfortunately lost – all images above) and http://www.angelstoday.net/

In a posthuman representational context: angel, neither male nor female (but arch angels are most definitely male)  neither organic, nor abstract, distinctly bearing a relation with the physical, but mostly detached… My thoughts wandered….

Angel, a  flaneur, seeking the truth of the soul, the immateriality acting as an intermediary.

Following on from Shields, I now see

  • Angels, an early virtual ‘emanation’
  • Hayles’ 1st order cybernetics, 1960s onwards
  • Hayles’ Autopoeisis
  • The appearance of cyborgs (in Haraway’s ‘infomatics of domination’)
  • Followed, as Shields suggests, the world ‘into information’ (for example survey and data, tracking, the genomics’ four-letter language of DNA sequences)
  • The surveillance via data-mining – putting two and two together across databases of personal, health and purchase information.
  • And the recombination of traits at the genetic level to enhance certain qualities.
  • Shields extends Haraway’s focus on cyborgs borne out of militaria-embraced visuality, juxtaposing the ‘ lived geography of women in circuits of culture and capital (p 211) situated in a narrow location, to the extent that cyborgs are ‘manifest in the nano, genomic and molecular’. Cyborgs are both a writerly device and a molecular- or smaller-scale biotechnical idiom (p 217) … ‘they (cyborgs) are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section… Newly emerged sites where cyborgs appear, include the ‘televisual media and arguable the web as a public sphere.’ (p216)
  • Hayles’ virtuality
The web as a cyborg, I do find this agreeable with my intuition around 21st century digital culture.


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Religion and cyborgs

‘We might instead acknowledge or explore the use of the cyborg not as actual disengagement of self from body, but as a metaphoric construct arising from centuries-old textual traditions of the body as a material residence for that mysterious immaterial entity variously called soul, mind or consciousness.’

‘Ironically, in our popular and academic literature the cyborg figure of the ‘post-God era’ functions to make implicit or explicit claims for Christian precepts of spiritual transcendence.’

(Of Shit and the Soul: Allison Muri, 2003)

It made me think we have 2 strands, which seem intertwined:

From a western perspective, the unification and separate entities of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, reminds us of an assembling/re-assembling of embodiment, a detachment of human flesh but also God made flesh, and humans  made in ‘God’s image’. The incarnation, entering heaven, promising a detachment (from the body) a raising of the soul.

Cyborg have a very human likeness. Built in ‘human image’. Holywood portrays them as indestructible (Terminator) or have them switching off after a period of time (Blade Runner) as a safety mechanism. In another film, AI (Steven Spielberg) the ‘boy birth’…. All movies skirting around utopian, dystopian worlds, heaven and hell.

Lucifer, a cyborg-like figure representing death, the Arch Angel Gabriel the saviour?

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Chocolate (… and rhizome)

Gough, N. (2004). RhizomANTically becoming-cyborg: performing posthuman pedagogiesEducational Philosophy and Theory, vol 36, no 3, 253-265

I just read this paper (twice now) and it has the same effect on me as dark chocolate: I can only eat it in small quantities, it taste very pure, like an indulging substance and it will probably keep me awake tonight….







I had already lifted a quote by Noel Gouch, in last week’s reading of Pederson’s article. It struck me this quote would make a good definition that I personally would associate with art.




However, I realise now that something is missing from the Penderson article. The full quote, from Gouch’s original papers, should be:

‘Now, the idea of rhizomANTically becoming-cyborg signifies my desire to imagine teaching and learning as material-semiotic assemblages of sociotechnical relations embedded in and performed by shifting connections and interactions among a variety of organic, ‘natural’ and textual materials’

In the paper, Gouch connects Deleuze & Guattari, Haraway and Bruno Latour as a ‘rhizomANTic’ theory for learning and teaching.

The paper reflects my attempt at developing the ‘Love Sick’ story.


(what is also weirdly connected here is the ‘ant bashing game’ my cat was fascinated with, ANT referring here to the Actor Network theory of Bruno Latour (and others) )


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6 theoretical resources for mobility research – Sheller and Urry

the authors identify 6 bodies of theories that can be enrolled within mobilities research:
  1. humans have a ‘will to connection’, with the pulse of the city
  2. hybrid geographies of humans and nonhumans that enable people to move and to hold shape, bringing things close (incl surveillance)
  3. material stuff makes up places, requiring assemblage (assembling/re-assembling)
  4. recentring of corporeal body, a vehicle through which we sense place and movement
  5. topology of social networks (here it shows this paper was written in 2005)
  6. the analysis of complex system  (the example of foot and mouth is given, but the horse meat scandal is another one today)
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