The War of Desire and Technology

Allucquere Rosanne Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age, Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press, 1995, 212 pp.

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Allucquere Rosanne Stone has produced a book which grasps, through a remarkable application of intellectual insight and seductive storytelling, virtual systems that influence the shifting boundaries of the social politic within cyberspace. Stone is interested in cyberspace as a network user and as an explorer of the potential of cyberspace communication for emergent behaviour which includes in Stone’s analysis, relations between “sex, death and machinery.” By exploring and expanding cyberspace beyond its currency as a metaphor for late-twentieth-century communication technologies, for example, data banks, financial systems, computer networks and military simulations, Stone investigates a site of both personal and public space that she defines as “prosthetic communication.”

Her “technosocial” investigations make use of an eloquent, never pedantic use of theory, drawn mainly from feminist science-diva Donna Haraway and cultural anthropology mixed with spatial elements of human geography. Stone also positions prominently in this text a remarkably pithy sexual poignancy that addresses multiple personalities, virtual cross-dressers and identities of the self framed within the evolving social and cultural sensibilities of cyberspace. Perhaps, most importantly, as this text explores emerging technologies, Stone’s accounts of transgressive behaviour and social change within virtual systems charts a course that will enthrall the most nascent traveler in cyberspace as well as those that seek to deeply experience the “cyborg habitat.” P. R. W.

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