“Natural-Born Cyborgs”: Becoming Posthuman in Bio- and Cybertech Ustopias

Carmen-Veronica BORBELY, Petronia POPA PETRAR


Abstract:

Through a detour into the eruption conditions of what might be termed “techno-humanity,” this paper explores the effects on the contemporary narrative imaginary of a double-edged collective impulse towards figurations of the future as the consequence of the present. Following Margaret Atwood, whose “MaddAddam” series of post-apocalyptic novels are paired with two recent productions by David Mitchell (Ghostwritten and The Bone Clocks), we investigate this contradictory impulse (associated with a particular set of novelistic conventions) of “ustopia”, emerging from the reciprocal relation between utopian and dystopian thought. Given the current insistence on “posthuman” definitions of subjectivity, we postulate that ustopias cast a privileged light on the dominant mode of the “technopoiesis” that seems to inform the digital universe, and therefore on the co-evolution of technics and humanity, which we approach from the complementary perspectives of “bio-” and “cyber-” instrumentalizations of this co-evolution. Such an approach suggests that the genre of ustopia, rather than being dismissed as mere fantasy or as a consumerist recycling of the popular imaginary, should be construed as a foray into reality, projecting an “unfuture” that ceases to be virtual insofar as its present roots hauntologically foreshadow what is to come.

Keywords: natural-born cyborg, posthuman, biotech ustopia, cybertech ustopia, drift.

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