Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Stone: Provoking the Academy the "Cat's Cradle" Way

The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age
by Allucquere Rosanne Stone
MIT Press, 1995
ISBN 0-262-19362-0
$22.50 (US)

--Sandy Stone demolishes the staid academic discourse and methodology which would neatly try to package tales of technological development, design, and diffusion into a tidy beribboned box, and in the process has created a fascinating and heady mixture of theory, fiction, and performative discourse. In exploring what she calls boundary stories from the net, Stone's prose and strategy is at once full of subterfuge, yet playful, anarchistic, probing, prodding, and yet deliciously apt.

This 'cat's cradle' methodology, derived from Donna Haraway serves to "thread these discourses and hold them in productive tension" (p22). It's dangerous yet seductive stuff to read for those of us grappling and grumbling about the appropriate manner to delve into cyborgian constructions within the academic milieau. As Stone writes,

"At the heart of my effort is the growing belief that the space of interaction between the academic and other worlds and between academic worlds themselves is undergoing deep and disturbing change, in complex cause- effect interaction with the emergence of new communication prosthetics" (p. 176)
Stone's appropriation of the performative gesture aims to provoke debate as to the role of the university at the end of the mechanical age:

"...perhaps it's time to reimagine the scholarly enterprise in terms of this new age-terms under which academics in the humanities and social sciences cannot be the conservators of stable knowledges that are crystallized in books and belief systems, but rather in which the critical importance to human growth and fulfillment that the humanities and social sciences provide within the university structure can drive the institution of higher education to reemerge in a form that can carry it beyond the so-called information revolution, without compromising its mission as conservator of the best of whatever this brawling, struggling thing we call humanity is or may yet come to be" (p.178) --


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