Cybersex and Prosthetic God: “Sex,” Desire and the Posthuman Body in Cyber Discourse


Hannu Eerikäinen

Since the late twentieth century, we have been living in a new world in which, according to Donna Haraway, “the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.” If this claim is to be taken seriously, what does it imply?

The present study will argue that a fundamental transformation has indeed taken place in contemporary academia. What occurred along with, and as a result of, the rise of the postmodern was a science-fictionalization of theory in the sense of theory-fictions, particularly pertaining to the conceptions of the body in terms of the cyborg and the posthuman. In this context, the metaphor of prosthesis finally became an alluring phantasm of the desire for theory, a new focus of post-theoretical hyperization.

Why did this epochal change in the epistemic premises of theory come about? And, more fundamentally, why and how did theory lose its critical edge under the impact of the postmodern?

The study addresses these questions by focusing on a new kind of theory object that appeared on the horizon of postmodern academia at the beginning of the 1990s. Due to its ambiguous but highly evocative quality, the object under consideration is referred to as the “cyber,” a hyperized signifier constitutive of cyber discourse as a paraliterary mode of writing theory in terms of post-theory. The concomitant cyberization of theory is seen in the study as both resulting from and proliferating cyber delusion based on a phantasmatic misperception of contemporary technoculture.

The emergence and implications of this optical illusion are explored in the study in terms of spectralization, as a consensual hallucination conjured up by cyber discourse as a hybrid of post-theory and techno-futurism, a mixture of “French theory” and “Californian ideology.”


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