I have to admit. The most interesting thing to me this time that Hayles wrote (and I’m using the phrase “interesting thing” loosely) was the story The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. For some reason, the idea of hallucinogenic drugs being used as communication completely fascinated me.
Now, don’t read anymore into that than you need to. I just think it’s an interesting concept. After all, these people inhabiting Mars are inhabiting Barbie and Ken rip-offs and can hear each other’s thoughts. Basically, the drugs are coding the humans. The humans, while they would like believe they are in control, really aren’t.
The narrative viewpoint nevertheless marks a clear boundary between the illusory world of Perky Pat and the reality of the colonists’ everyday lives. While the colonists are experiencing themselves as the glamorous Pat and Walt, the narrator describes them as an objective eye would see them, sprawled in the hovel with drool dripping from their mouths from the chewed up Can-D. When the drug wears off, the colonists, too, see the scene the narrator describes and are snapped back into the reality they never in fact escaped.
As I read this, I was reminded of a slideshow I saw recently on the internet. In the 1950s, the government was doing a study on drugs. They gave an artist a dose of LSD and left him with an activity box with crayons and pencils. He was then left alone with the medic who gave him the does.
Why did that remind me of the reading? Because the artist was also coded. The slideshow includes the things he said while under the influence, and there is no way you can tell me the drugs didn’t control what he experienced or thought. I guess until Hayles, though, I never thought of it that way.