We are all cyborgs

The origin of the cyborg can be dated back to the 1960s, when the term was proposed by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline to refer to the use of cybernetics in helping human adapt to outer-space environment. The original definition of the “cyborg” is a self-regulating man-machine system that could “incorporate exogenous components extending the self-regulatory control function of the organism” (Clynes & Kline 1960). Extending on from this original definition, Haraway formulated the cyborg image as a being that is simultaneously both man and machine, a manifestation of “both imagination and material reality” (Haraway 1991, 291). As such, the three main characters – Memo, Luz and Rudy – can all be seen as suitable cyborgs. All three characters have “Nodes”, technological tools installed straight into their bodies, making them half organism, half machine. While both the original proposition and Haraway’s definition can remain quite broad in terms of applicability, I do not wish to focus so much on defining what is or is not a cyborg, but rather to highlight the hybridity that this term suggests to us. I argue that in Sleep Dealer the relationship between human and machine is expressed mostly and mainly through the individual’s body, where digital technology offers characters various degrees of extension of themselves and their physical actions. Through the “nodes”, Rudy connects and controls the military drone to destroy buildings in Mexico while remaining physically present in the U.S. Similarly, Memo sends his labour from Mexico to America by working in a “nodes” factory, controlling construction robots to build a skyscraper. Also through the use of “nodes”, Luz transmits her memories straight from her mind to the computer, which then uploads these to the global memory market. Through different ways and in different degrees, technology is incorporated into these characters’ experiences and consequently shapes the way they engage with others – humans and cyborgs.


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