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Avatar Bodies

A Tantra for Posthumanism

2003
Author:

Ann Weinstone

Avatar Bodies

An ethically-based approach to human relations for the media age

Avatar Bodies develops a posthumanist vocabulary for human-to-human relationships that turns our capacities for devotion, personality, and pleasure. Drawing on both the philosophies and practices of Indian Tantra, Weinstone argues for the impossibility of absolute otherness; we are all avatar bodies, and she proposes that only when we stop ordering the other to be other will we truly become posthuman.

Avatar Bodies is a thoughtful book, one that engages with important questions of ethics and subjectivity in the 21st century with rigor and theoretical depth.

Science Fiction Studies

Otherness, alterity, the alien—over the course of the past fifty years many of us have based our hopes for more ethical relationships on concepts of difference. Combining philosophy, literary criticism, fiction, autobiography, and real and imagined correspondence, Ann Weinstone proposes that only when we stop ordering the other to be other—whether technological, animal, or simply inanimate—will we truly become posthuman.

Posthumanism has thus far focused nearly exclusively on human–technology relations. Avatar Bodies develops a posthumanist vocabulary for human-to-human relationships that turns our capacities for devotion, personality, and pleasure. Drawing on both the philosophies and practices of Indian Tantra, Weinstone argues for the impossibility of absolute otherness; we are all avatar bodies, consisting of undecidably shared gestures, skills, memories, sensations, beliefs, and affects.

Weinstone calls her book a “tantra”—by which she means a set of instructions for practices aimed at sensitizing the reader to the inherent permeability of self to other, self to world. This tantra for posthumanism elaborates devotional gestures that will expose us to more unfettered contacts and the transformative touch.


Avatar Bodies

Ann Weinstone is assistant professor of literature and new media at Northwestern University and the winner of the 1994 Chelsea Award for Fiction.

Avatar Bodies

Avatar Bodies is a thoughtful book, one that engages with important questions of ethics and subjectivity in the 21st century with rigor and theoretical depth.

Science Fiction Studies

Avatar Bodies

Contents
Acknowledgments xi
Pleasure Ψ 1
ΨEvery Relation but One:Part I 3
Ψ(Post)HumanismΨ 8
Suspension 23
ΨDeconstruction and Posthumanism? Ψ 25
Nonphilosophy Ψ 17
ΨTidal Kneeplay Ψ 21
Deleuze and Derrida:You Are Other Ψ 23
ΨTo Have 25
To Belong 28
Fiora Raggi Kneeplay 31
Tantra for PosthumanismΨ 33
ΨSpeaking ofAssimilationΨ 37
Avatar Bodies Ψ 40
ΨFirst City Kneeplay 43
Insect Threads Ψ 50
Case Ψ 52
ΨInsects and Buddhists Ψ 55
ΨThe Insect Self 59
The Insect Yogi Ψ 62
ΨKnowing,Caring 64
Second City Kneeplay 68
ΨSorcerer Series I:The Island Sorcerer (An Introduction) Ψ 71
ΨSome Celibate Erotics 74
ΨVı
¯raActionΨ 77
ΨThe Wasp and the Orchid 79
ΨSorcerer Series II:The Yogi Sorcerer Ψ 83
ΨSex Scene 86
Becoming Woman,Becoming Yogini 89
ΨEnglish Tantra or the Imperceptible Man 91
ΨΨVı
¯raBha¯vaKneeplay 95
Sorcerer Series III:Rheya 96
ΨSorcerer Series IV:The Miracle ofthe Rogue 101
ΨHeroes ofDifference 104
Third City Kneeplay:The Wasp and the Orchid Cross a Letter Ψ 108
Emanation/ExpressionΨ 111
Three Bodies Ψ 115
Three Bodies:Exposition in Preparation for the Avatar Body Ψ 116
ΨAvatar and Expression 118
ΨThe Difference Difference 121
ΨAvatar Bodies,an InvitationΨ 124
ΨItaraand Avata¯ra 126
Tantric Bodies 128
Fourth City Kneeplay 130
Eating,Well... 132
ΨΨEating Animals 134
Vegetarians,Brahmins Ψ 137
Tantra’s Third Way 139
The Responsibility ofthe (Postdeconstructive) Subject Ψ 142
Love and Justice 144
Experience 146
Intuition,Perhaps 149
A Tantra for PosthumanismΨ 153
. Bha¯va 153
. I Am Speaking ofDevotion (Bhakti) 154
. Discipleship (Dı
¯ks
˙a¯) 158
. Iteration (Japa) 159
. Transindividualism (Nya¯sa) 161
. Enjoyment,Intoxication (Bhoga) 163
. Gesture (Mudra¯) 169
ΨFifth City Kneeplay:Solaris in Your Eyes 171
ΨEpistlirium 173
Every Relation but One:Part II Ψ 175
ΨHard to Say 177
ΨThe Postal Age ΨΨ 181
Ψ(Post) HeroismΨ 184
ΨPost HeroismΨ 187
Post ΨPost 190
ΨThe Sacrificial Structure ofthe Post193
Fire 197
))) Water 200
Flesh 202
Who? 204
E-Mail Mudra¯ Ψ 206
Chance 210
ΨPostscript 215
Works Cited 219