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Metal and Flesh: The Evolution of Man: Technology Takes Over (Leonardo Books) Hardcover – November 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Are we not men," bark the creatures residing in H.G. Wells's fantasy island, and cultural critic Ollivier Dyens looks into the issue in his book Metal and Flesh. Arguing that culture has redefined and even supplanted biology, he wants us to see and perhaps guide the changes we're wreaking on our bodies and the world.

Incorporating literary analysis and deft sociological synopsis, Dyens shows the reader how we have embraced technology so thoroughly that we are practically helpless without it. But ultimately, he says, our nature is still cultural, and he is surprisingly optimistic (if wary) about our lives, even if he's informed by the cyberpunk canon, Kafka, and 1984. As he says near the book's close: "We are not becoming cyborgs but sketches, pictures, writings, songs, and dances. Within us, all phenomena intermingle." Postmodern or Zen--Dyens leaves the reader with a warm, but restless, inner glow. --Rob Lightner


a very important contribution to the growing field of body-studies and to media culture, at large.

(Marisa S. Olson AI)

Dyens's discussion of the most momentous issues we face is creative, sophisticated, and also -- shockingly enough -- clear and sensible. An important contribution to our understanding of who we are and what we are becoming.

(Crispin Sartwell, Chair of Humanities and Sciences, Maryland Institute College of Art)

We techno-organic beings, born from the re-mix of pixels and particles, growing on a substrate of global connective tissue, will find that Ollivier Dyens's illuminating, engaging, and insightful book takes us to the furthest edge of the post-biological culture. His is a non-linear vision of emergent mind and transformative body. Total immersion is recommended!

(Roy Ascott, Founding Director, CAiiA-STAR (Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts), University of Wales, and Science Technology and Art Research Centre, University of Plymouth)

Metal and Flesh shows that Ollivier Dyens is one of the best contemporary thinkers of our breathtaking techno-cultural evolution.

(Pierre Lévy,, Professor of Cyberculture, University of Quebec a Trois Rivieres, and author of Collective Intelligence and Becoming Virtual)

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Product Details

  • Series: Leonardo Book Series
  • Hardcover: 178 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262042002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262042000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,906,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Plus on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A "cyborg," for those of you who don't know, is defined by Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary as "a human being who is linked ... to one or more mechanical devices upon which some of his vital physiological functions depend."
On pages 82-83 of the book under review, Dyens writes that:
"The cyborg is nothing but a fusion between biology and culture, and, as such, it marks the end of living beings as defined by our current conceptions. The cyborg is a semantic transformation of the body; it is a living being whose identity, history, and presence are formulated by technology and defined by culture. It is a body free of dualities, guilt, sexual repression, and frustration.... [T]he cyborg is a sexless living being, man, woman, and machine all at once. The cyborg is the obliteration of the biological."
Consider that in recent months Vice President Dick Cheney had a defibrillator implanted into his chest to help along his damaged heart, and talkshow host Rush Limbaugh has gotten a cochlear implant to try to correct his hearing loss. Do their workaday borg implants mean that their bodies are now "free of dualities, guilt, sexual repression, and frustration"? Have they experienced "the obliteration of the biological"?
Of course not. What foolishness. Only an over-educated literary intellectual could have written nonsense like this. Not that long ago, humanist brainiacs like Dyens were writing similar things about test-tube babies. Then such babies came along, healthy, cute and cooing, and all talk about their dehumanized status has disappeared. Today the prospect of cloned human babies generates similar over-heated rhetoric, which will sound silly when a real human clone comes along and seems perfectly normal.
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