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Themesicon: navigation pathCyborg Bodiesicon: navigation pathMythical Bodies I

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«The Promises of Monsters»

This tension between being bound and overcoming is characteristic for the notions we have of cyborgs, and correspondingly also for the images with which we shape these notions. Donna Haraway stresses: «A cyborg exists when two kinds of boundaries are simultaneously problematic: 1) that between animals (or other organisms) and humans, and 2) that between self-controlled, self-governing machines (automatons) and organisms, especially humans (models of autonomy). The cyborg is the figure born of the interface of automaton and autonomy.» [6]

As long as the boundaries between ‹animal› and ‹human› or ‹technical› and ‹human› remain clearly marked, this has no consequences for humans, who believe to have the controlling power over animals and machines in their hands. However, cyborgs show that these boundaries are becoming permeable. [7] What this firstly means is a threat—above all one of the loss of control, which not lastly is a loss of control over one's own body and over its

contours, which determine a person's identity. At the same time, however, there are a number of promises


that are bound to one such dissolution of boundaries. Donna Haraway appropriately calls these «the promises of monsters» [8] —which, as will be shown in the following, become vividly apparent in fantasies of cyborg configurations. The paradigm of the ‹technical›—in particular in the age of new technologies—promises the overcoming of weaknesses associated with biological existence, particularly the frailty and mortality of the human body. This is not only a feature of Klines and Clyne's cyborg concept, but also of numerous cyborg fantasies we encounter in science fiction literature and in films—let us look at, for instance, the «Terminator» embodied by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the series of films by the same name. [9] . From certain viewpoints, positive qualities can also be gotten from the «animal-like»—for example where instincts and abilities are more highly developed in animals than in humans. The Borgs from the science fiction series «Star Trek,» [10] who at first glance seem fairly humanoid—and who are admittedly not cyborgs but living beings who have passed through another evolution than humans—are characterized by a collective, interfaced intelligence modeled after

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