The Confederation of Multidisciplinary Automaton Scholars 1997 Conference
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Strand B: Philosophy and Human Identity
1:15 - 2:00 p.m.
Undulating Walls Room
GETTING IN BED WITH THE BORG: Tripping, Troping, and Gender Coping at the HAM Institute
D. R. Aha-Way (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Abstract: Consider (a) Baron Wolfgangvon Kempelen's notorious Chess Player, the lifelike, turbaned, pipe-smoking automaton constructed in 1769 who checkmated Napoleon and some of Europe's best players for some fifty years before it was surmised that a human operator, crouching inside a cleverly concealed compartment, was pulling the levers; (b) Moto-Girl and Auto-Girl, real young women dressed as life-size dolls or toys, enthralling thousands with their mechanical songs and dances; (c) Gilbert van Gelderschott's allegedly near-perfect forgery — possibly about to be resurrected — of Guillermo Rosellini's 1737 mechanical pig. These might be described, respectively, as cases of a false automaton (a machine imitation of an imitation of "man"), human automatons (women imitating their machine imitators as constructed by men), and a fictional forged automaton (an imaginary exact duplicate of an imitation of an animal as machine). At the Herstory of Automaton Mechanics (HAM) Institute, in association with the Program in Gender Symmetry (PIGS), we were kind of wondering ... after transcending the lines between "man" and machine, animal and human, and male and female ... well, what nontotalizing postindustrial socialist-feminist tropes could possibly be left with which to bludgeon European capitalist white male etc. hegemony? That's when we became assimilated by the Borg. Graduate students will undergo periodic drug tests to maintain eligibility and facilitate our intimate embrace with Big Science. Resistance is futile.