Cross at your own risk

The modern Western society has seen a shift from seeing ourselves as natural and whole to a perspective of human as lacking and incomplete, resulting in utopian dreams of infinite possibilities (Dumit & Davis-Floyd 1998, 8). This fantasy of better alternatives is expressed through Memo’s wish to get a “node” and to get away from the village. His listening in on other people’s conversations is a desire to connect the technology that is being glossed over on television. However for a large part of the film, the technology of the “node” appears to be restraining rather than liberating, where Memo has to perform low-wage, repetitive tasks to earn money and support his family. The appeal of technology lies partly in the multiplicity of choice that it presents, yet the more ubiquitous technology becomes, the harder it is to choose from non-technological alternatives (Dumit & Davis-Floyd 1998, 2). This irony is clearly illustrated by the image of the cyborg as a being always in transgression.

Thus the cyborg reveals a Freudian uncanniness that incorporates our awe and fear, our fascination and dread of what technology brings to us. This uncanny feeling is the uneasiness experienced when faced with the novel whose roots lie in the familiar (Freud 1919, 220). It is often evoked when a sign gains equal standing with the thing it symbolises, confusing the line between imagination and reality, between the alive and the not-alive (Freud 1919, 244). The cyborg is half-man, half-machine; as such it is a being simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, alive and not alive, it is paradox symbolised and its own existence is a paradox. The conceptual coherency of the cyborg as hybridity and transgression is largely dependent upon the affirmation of fixed and opposing poles and its refusal to belong to either. It is the body doubled by the machine so indispensable and pervasive that it threatens to abolish of our origin story and the body itself (Greenville 2002, 21). Cyborgs are inherently enigmatic – they bring to life what human has always imagined, enhances our capabilities and provide assurance against fears of decay while at the same time threaten to dehumanise us, to erase our identity (Dumit & Davis-Floyd 1998, 13; Croissant 1998, 295). The existence of cyborgs begs for the questioning and reconsidering of our own identities.

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