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THE CYBORG MANIFESTO by Richard DeGrandpre
But Seriously, Folks
The true story of a cyborg spoof

A spoof … what is it good for? Like other pranks and hoaxes, it has historically been good for laughs, if nothing else. In the political arena and elsewhere, spoofs have also been an effective way for people to scoff at something others take too seriously without having to be too serious themselves.

There is, however, another role for the spoof that is less widely acknowledged, and it is this role that is filled by The Cyborg Manifesto.

Here a spoof functions as a kind of projective test, like the infamous Rorschach inkblots. Whether intended or not, it takes on the role of provocateur whenever its meaning is unclear. As test subjects perceive ambiguity, they fill in the blanks with their own interpretation – and that interpretation can be wonderfully or terribly revealing. The ambiguous spoof thus has the power to uncover something within the psyche of the interpreters that they didn’t know. When "administered" to thousands of people, it becomes a kind of cultural Rorschach, revealing not just individual assumptions and perceptions but also underlying attitudes of a whole tribe.

Of the thousand or so readers who commented on The Cyborg Manifesto online, only a small few recognized it for what is was – a spoof. The vast majority took it at face value. What does this tell us? Perhaps most importantly, and surprisingly, it tells us that people have little difficulty imagining a future in which nature is abandoned for a total cybernetic existence. Some are against it, some are for it, but many or most can imagine it. This is a disturbing discovery, and one that should be followed up with some urgency. On the other hand, some readers who denied that such a future is possible still took the Manifesto as sincere. That people can imagine Adbusters unconditionally embracing such a dark vision shows just how ambiguous are the times in which we are living.

– Richard DeGrandpre

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