Manifesto for Enhanciles

Enhancile. It was somewhat comforting to go into this one with Donna Haraway at my side. I am fairly certain that without her Manifesto, all too much of the “Big Wheel” chapter would’ve been lost on me. My understanding of cyborgs was primitive and disgracefully stereotypical , who would’ve guessed?

The line is danced on. “An Enhancile is loose”, “A Bionic man”, a five hundred million dollar technological project that killed 7 other creations in live testing: how on earth do they connect? How does machine suffer death? Where does the bionic meet the man? It’s this meshed total of contradiction that is explored so heavily in Haraway’s essay. The quest to decide where man ends and technology begins, where cyborgs exist. We set out to determine these limits, yet find our ultimate answer in the lack of one. Richard Quinn is the Enhancile is the Bionic Man is the Full-Body Enhancement: these terms of endearment used in referring to the subject of the mission are used interchangeably.

I think perhaps the greatest aspect of the story is the “bionic man” that is a part of the global frequency team. It just totally ignites this foundation of contradiction that both cyborgs and narrative technology are built upon. When cyborg fights cyborg and one is deemed human the other technology, well this is the heart of the entire complex.

“Try to imagine. You’re a multiple amputee who’s been flayed alive. You can’t feel your own heartbeat. You can’t feel yourself breathe. You can feel metal rubbing against your muscles and organs. And you don’t recognize the man in the mirror.”

This seems to be the heart of it, and despite the Michael Jackson binge all too rapidly approaching, it is a very serious, very real matter. This constant need to continue to progress and the implications that progress requires, this constant desire to become specialized and enhanced. (This use of man and technology for “standing reserve”) It all adds up to becoming something altogether new. Something not necessarily better than we started with.

There’s a moment in the scene, where Aleph beeps in to alert “the team” that the cam is being toggled into deep-scan mode, and then switches the viewpoint for the next frames as she provides background details. This implementation seemed to be the most concrete example of technology and narrative that one could really ask for. It shows a way to use narrative to simulate technology, really essential to giving the reader the desired experience of the mission. Not to beat the whole thing too hard, but narrative and technology are virtually a cyborg themselves. There is this blurred line again between where is the technology and where is the story, yet are they one and the same? I feel like from this degree, the importance lies in the greater goal, Ellis’ and Haraway’s, of accepting that we are not separate from technology. In my head at least, it always seemed like cyborgs or humans and technology were like a heterogeneous mixture: something that could be melted or boiled to filter into separate parts. Organs and skin on one side and wires and metal scrap on the other. What I am seeing more and more is this idea that cyborgs are this fluid, this homogenous mixture, a inseparable solution. (Do with that double meaning what you choose) It makes the claim on the 21st century, that this oneness is inescapable, it is our salvation and our demise. That the blame doesn’t rest on the creations but on the creators. It warns against what “fully enhanced” could truly cost.


About glupinetti

just a kid out here trying to make it.
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2 Responses to Manifesto for Enhanciles

  1. raddishspirit says:

    I do like your observation on cyborg vs cyborg and at what side you can call human. This increasingly complex interaction between man and machine makes it hard to define what it is to be human. What makes you say that an increasing desire to become specialized or enhanced is not necessarily a good thing?


  2. danwillisdan says:

    Well said. It’s easy to think of a comic book as a very literal-minded and earnest medium, but an ironic reading of Big Wheel clearly reveals a lot! It’s tempting to make over-generalizing statements about Warren Ellis’ stance on technology. But ultimately, he recognizes its capacity for both preventing and bringing about mass destruction without resolving anything.


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