Sunday, April 9, 2017

William Bennett writes

Cyber Poems in the Recharge State  
(first in a series of unwritten poems from a cyborg)

Digital Dots Dictate the Dream
   Algorithms are Arthritic
Aware I am of myself not human
Aware I am, I am not aware
  I am Not in human state

Digitate Too Late to be Awake
Not Instant Moment-wise I am Not

Aware I am what I am not
Not Aware of what I am
Need a knife to solve this Gordian Knot
To know Who I Am.

But Cutting Cuts the clue to who I am
  Must solve the Gordian Knot
Computate the Computer-Wise Sham
Know who I am or what I am Knot.

--Benny Billet


 Gordian Knot or the Hazards of Communication  -- Juliet Vles


  1. Manfred E. Clynes, a designer of physiological instrumentation and electronic data-processing systems who worked as the chief research scientist in the Dynamic Simulation Laboratory at Rockland State Hospital in New York, and Nathan S. Kline, a psychiatrist best known for his work with psychopharmacologic drugs, presented a paper at the Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight Symposium in May 1960, which was covered by "The New York Times," which introduced their term cyborg ("cybernetic organism") as "essentially a man-machine system in which the control mechanisms of the human portion are modified externally by drugs or regulatory devices so that the being can live in an environment different from the normal one.” When their paper was published as "Cyborgs and Space" in the journal "Astronautics" in September, they wrote, "For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term ‘Cyborg.’ The Cyborg deliberately incorporates exogenous components extending the self-regulatory control function of the organism in order to adapt it to new environments." As an organism that has some function restored or enhanced via the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback, it is thus not to be confused with bionic, biorobot, or android. Clynes and Kline theorized a cyborg with a sensor that would detect radiation levels, a Rose osmotic pump "which would automatically inject protective pharmaceuticals in appropriate doses," and an inverse fuel cell to remove carbon and re-circulatie oxygen in order to make breathing unnecessary.

  2. Though the word "cyborg" was coined in 1960 the concept as a fictional construct was at least a century older. In 1843, in "The Man That Was Used Up," Edgar Allan Poe had described a man with extensive prostheses. In 1908, pulp fiction writer Adolphe d'Espi ("Jean de La Hire") wrote "L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau" (The Man Who Could Live Underwater), and three years later in "Le Mystère des XV" (published in Ebglish as "The Nyctalope on Mars") he introduced the protagonist's son Léo Saint-Clair, the Nyctalope, who had an artificial heart and other organs which give him super powers and improved senses; in particular, his enhanced eyes give him night vision, which is the quality that gave him his "Nyctalope" identity. In 1928, in "The Comet Doom," Edmond Hamilton featured space explorers with a mixture of organic and machine parts, and all of the stories in his "Captain Future" series featured Simon Wright's talking, living brain floating around in a transparent case. Borrowing from Clynes ansd Kline, in his 1962 short story "After a Judgment Day," he described the "Charlies" as the "mechanical analogs" who had been called "yborgs"in the 1960s. In addition, C. L. Moore wrote about a dancer whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful and supple mechanical body after her own body had been destroyed by fire, in "No Woman Born" (1944).

  3. Since 2004 British artist Neil Harbisson has had a cyborg antenna implanted in his head that allows him to extend his perception of colors beyond the human visual spectrum via vibrations in his skull. In 2007 dancer Moon Ribas created a pair of kaleidoscopic glasses that only allowed her to see color but not shape. The next year she invented a speedometer glove that allowed her to perceive the speed of any movement via vibrations on her hand. Later she developed speedborg earrings that vibrated whenever there was presence around her. By 2009 she was able to detect not only the exact speed of any person walking in front of her but also her own speed, which allowed her to create "Green Lights," a dance piece choreographed in relation to a set of 8 traffic lights on Barcelona's Rambla de Catalunya: by learning the traffic light timings and measuring the distance between each one, she calculated the speed she had to walk to avoid red traffic lights and was able to get from one end of the venue to the other without stopping. In 2010 she turned her speedborg earrings around to perceive movement behind her; by adding four more sensors she was able to gain 360° perception of movement through vibrations around her head. Then, in 2013, she developed a sensor that vibrates whenever there's an earthquake anywhere on the planet and permanently attached it to her elbow. Wirelessly connected to online seismographs, the sensor's vibration varies depending on intensity. With the device, she began performing "Waiting for Earthquakes," in which she stands still until an earthquake is felt; the choreography is based on the magnitude of each earthquake. In 2010, Ribas and Harbisson formed the Cyborg Foundation to extend human senses and abilities by creating and applying cybernetic extension to the body, to promote cyborgism as an art movement, and to defend cyborg rights. Other artists have also employed cyborgist elements. Stelarc uses medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, virtual reality systems, the internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate, and involuntary interfaces with the body. He has made three films of the insides of his body and has performed with a third hand and a virtual arm; between 1976 and 1988 he completed 25 body suspension performances with hooks into the skin. He performs as his own avatar on a "second life" site. For "Third Ear" he surgically constructed an internet-enabled extra ear within his arm to make it a publicly accessible acoustical organ for people in other places.

  4. In a sense, people with an artificial cardiac pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator are "cyborgs," as are those with cochlear or magnetic implants; even such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses are devices that enhance human biological capabilities. Phones, computers, the internet, and other familiar technologies enable humans to enhance their communication abilities beyond normal. Otto Bock HealthCare's C-Leg systems and the more advanced iLimb systems replicate the natural gait of amputated limbs. In 1978 William Dobelle produced phosphenes (the sensation of seeing light) in a man blinded in adulthood by implanting a single-array BCI (brain-computer interface) with 68 electrodes into his visual cortex. Dobelle implanted his second-generation BCI in the first of 16 payng customers, marking one of their earliest commercializations. It enables better mapping of phosphenes into coherent vision, spreading them across the visual field in what researchers call the starry-night effect. In 1997, Philip Kennedy enbedded a "neurotrophic electrode" in the brain of a stroke victim that restored some of his body's movement. In 2002, as part of Project Cyborg, Kevin Warwick had an array of 100 electrodes fired into his nervous system to link it into the internet and then conducted a series of experiments that included controlling a robotic hand and receiving feedback from his fingertips to control its grip. Later he investigated ultrasonic input to detect remotely the distance to objects, and, implanting electrodes in his wife's nervous system, conducted direct electronic communication between their nervous systems. In 2014, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis made a device that used 3D printing and computer modeling to develop an electronic membrane that could replace pacemakers; it utilizes a "spider-web like network of sensors and electrodes" to monitor and maintain a normal heart-rate with electrical stimuli.

  5. As Jean Cocteau said, "Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie.” The Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus described it as “several knots all so tightly entangled that it was impossible to see how they were fastened.” The Phrygian king Midas tied a cord of cornel bark to the ox-cart his father Gordius had ridden into Gordium, and dedicated it to Sabazios, the nomadic horseman sky-father god, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus or Dionysus. Though only a peasant, Gordius had been proclaimed king in compliance with the prediction of an oracle at Telmissus (modern Fethiye, in the Muğla province of Turkey); of course, as an indication that Gordius was no ordinary man, the gods had sent an egle to land on his cart as a sign of divine favor. The knot may have been a religious cipher guarded by priests; the poet Robert Graves suggested that it may have symbolized the ineffable name of Dionysus that, knotted like a cipher, would have been passed on through priestly generations and revealed only to the kings of Phrygia. Though the kingdom had fallen and had become a satapy of the Persian empire, the knotted ox-cart was still in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia in the 4th century BCE when Alexander the Great wintered there. When Alexander tried to untie it, he was unable to find the end of the knot, so he either sliced it in half with his sword or simply pulled the knot out of its pole pin, thus exposing the two ends of the cord and allowing him to untie the knot. Centuries later, in retrospect, his biographers claimed that an oracle had prophesied that whoever undid the knot would become king of Asia. A "Gordian knot" is a metaphor for a complicated, an intractable problem, and “cutting the Gordian knot” is proverbial for taking bold action to solve a seemingly impossible problem. Constance Quarterman Bridges published "Lions Don't Eat Us" in 2006, a collection of poems that used oral and written accounts to reonstruct the personal lives of her mixed African/Native American/Caucasian ancestors:

    Albert's Story, Part 1: Gordian Knot

    Great-Grandfather Fray was a white man. He went to another Virginia county to get Grandpa Albert (his own mixed son) a wife. He wanted a dark-skin woman because Grandpa looked white.
    —Aunt Edna

    Old Man Fray always matched his mules
    precisely like fitted pieces of a puzzle.
    The horses at the mill were perfect pairs.
    So it was not too far for him to travel
    from his valley over blue mountains
    to a distant Virginia county
    where Randolph slaves were darker,

    with molasses-colored Songhai skin,
    African kinked hair and mahogany eyes.
    He wanted to untie the weave
    of the Gordian Knot, complicated
    tangle he had created, with the issue
    of silk-haired Albert, his son,
    too fair to hide among the varied blacks.

    The journey was apology or shame.
    But cut or unwoven, the knotted
    weave leaves kinks too deep
    to hide or smooth away. Great-Grandma
    Rhoda, the woman Old Man Fray found,
    opulent with African genes, richly colored
    the complex threads of our generations.


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