The awkwardness of downloading concurrent, asynchronous academic threads around 2003/4

A cyborg manifesto Halfway through Companions in Conversation and I’m having this memory of being in college – clacking away code points on the cheap silicons of a Micron computer – practicing new knowledges in my class essays just like Haraway admits while writing the Cyborg Manifesto: “trying out some of the knowledges that hadn’t been mine that I was getting from my colleagues [professors (in my case)] and the graduate students in the program.” I remember deploying the token “implosion.” I probably got it from Haraway.

And yet – perhaps a small singe of regret in my tummy neuronics, and deja vu – this word play was happening while I was coming to grips with the nightmare material of Black and Brown people in America through black feminist and black feminist incarceration studies. Our class journaled, and so I produced heartbroken journaling about the new Jim Crow (before Michelle Alexander would be able to corrupt the nation), taking some liberties with text. I wonder, now, if the linguistic turns in those reflections foreclosed, too soon, real collaborative feeling; like community (or, because it’s hard to resist, kinship and worlding). All these students toiling away in separate rooms and library cublices, synthesizing separately. Autopoietic onanisms. Needed more sympoiesis. I still regret a final project that was a bit too stylistic and “discursive” – performing the film student, trying to dazzle a little with Final Cut Pro; but some good calories lost. The art folks I admired made it hard for me to distinguish between medium and message, or situate with them with grace. (Not that Haraway was successful for everyone. But she kept playing whilst under the microscope.) I’m remembering a kind of safe feeling in postructuralism. But perhaps that was just the safety of academia which easily postpones praxis and doing something while chatting in the corridors of monuments to robber barons. Because, like, I’m also remembering that the materiality was a welcome call to action. Perhaps I wielded it – some subconscious desire for participation in activist and join movement(s) for climate, economic, gender, racial justice – as an antidote to the fist two years of cultural studies and dorm-chair politics. It’s hard to remember exactly if I was that wise; maybe the blunt horrors of the Bush regime’s colonialism/imperialism was enough of a catalytic flow through the student bodies progressive consciousness.

Still, interesting to wonder, now, about the concurrent postructural deluge of neologisms and deconstructing of gender, race, class oppressions, cyborg multiplicities back then; while faced with newly understood, centuries old urgencies of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and Black holocaust. I’m at the same place now, returned, recurred. Which is somewhat shocking and all too expected in America.

That said, the second time around, considering how Haraway’s work traveled and continues to travel in the last 15-20 years, I’m excited to be hailed again, thinking with her. While moving duckets to organizing, talking to white brothers about racism. Worlding assemblages seems really relevant still as the complexes of racial capitalism and white psychosis have become wider, deeper, and more micronic.

Ross Chapman @internetross