Tiptree’s fiction constructs a sharp contrast between an informational realm and a “real” world of severe constraints that operates according to the laws of conservation. On the one hand, Delphi lives in a world of seemingly endless possibility, expansive in its glittering displays of wealth and privilege; on the other hand, P. Burke lives in a severely controlled Spartan existence in an underground cavern where her every move, including her physiological responses, are closely monitored.
Is it me, or does this plot described by Hayles in chapter 3 remind us of James Cameron’s Avatar? It’s the same principle really. We live in a world with some possibilities, but in the case of the main character Jake Sulley, who parallels P. Burke, is not only monitored physiologically and physically but is also constrained to a wheelchair. His time spent inside his avatar on Pandora are a great luxury for him as he has opportunity after opportunity to learn, develop and progress through the ranks of the Na’vi.
Okay, enough of my comparison. Let me just say that I was very quick to judge Hayles and My Mother was a Computer. Reading this section was like a complete transformation from the beginning chapters. I’m not sure if she just explained it better or if it is due to her summarizing of the other novels in chapter 3 that did it, but I can totally make connections now.
Another key passage that stuck out for me and registered the “light bulb” effect in my mind was on page 62: …information does not operate on the same constraints that govern matter and energy.
I never really thought of information in that light before. As she suggests a few pages later, information is not about the amount available but rather about thoe amount of access granted to use it. All the information in the world would be useless if it were all locked away in some mainframe computer in a distant location. But, as technology develops, first with oral communication to written, then from written to print, and now from print to digital, we are seeing a jump in the amount of information that is accessed daily. I can still remember a time before wikipedia and other online referencing tools. Doing research back then was hard. But now, we can find information on virtually any material with the click of a mouse.
If nothing else, the connections I’m really drawing here is that we’ve come full-circle in this class—at least I have, because these themes greatly resemble the ones covered in the spring 2010 section of this course.
via Halyes 2.