How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies In Cybernetics, Literature, And Informatics
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Separating hype from fact, this text investigates the fate of embodiment in the information age. It relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological constuction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman". Ranging across the history of technology, cultural studies and literary criticism, the text shows what had erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. The author moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel "Limbo" by Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.