chapter  5
Reality Bytes Virtual Incarnations
Pages 20

In the closing years of the millennium the self-evidence of the corporeal can no longer be assumed. Human tissue incorporates a complex weave of dacron, silicon, and metal; edible chemistries of hybrid derivation routinely join the rhythms of biological dialogue; pig, human, baboon, and tomato are blended in strange recipes; electronic circuitries measure out the delicate pulse and possibility of life. This creole of technocultures has significantly refigured corporeal possibility in a way that extends to the larger and not unrelated question of what it means to be human. The constitution of the very stuff of the body has become strangely uncertain even as the code, or program, of humanness is cracked, reinvented, and marketed. Exemplary of this incessant and aggressive redefinition of the human condition is the phenomenon of cyberspace. The human subject is now digitized and decen­ tered through the global stretch of cyberspace capillaries. Kinships of technicity are organized along bloodlines of data that have begun to complicate and displace more familiar identity alliances (Tomas 1989). As Mark Dery, editor of Flame Wars:The Discourse of Cyberculture, explains this phenomenon, “authors are sometimes anonymous, often pseudonymous, and almost always strangers.” This “incorporeal interaction” heralds many new possibilities:

Freed from the wet net o f any carnal mooring, there are no apparent Em­ its to the complex identities that these hybrid avatars of virtual life may

assume. Indeed, Jaron Lanier, one time media bad-boy of the virtual reality (VR) world and often cited as the author of the term “virtual reality,” has confidendy speculated thatVR will even afford us the opportunity of assum­ ing the body o f a lobster (cited in McFadden 1991: 45).