cyborg detector

cyborg and age: time warp of existence

Interview with a 86 year old cyborg

Margarethe Koller, born 10.03.1911 in Vienna. Cyborg degree: very high. Cyborg features: dentures, hearing aids, glasses, heart pace maker, metal wires to hold together the chest bone after heart surgery, a metal implant on the pinkie toe after removal of the bone, TV as the only device to make contact to an external world since she cannot leave the house anymore. Self-declared: still-human

Background: Born 1911 in Vienna into the working class, she grew up with basic education and became a tailor and housewife with a husband and two daughters.

Q1. When you were a kid, what sort of media/technologies were around then?

A1. Well, a lot of newspapers, if that what you mean by media, and technologies .. well, I guess you mean computers, -we just were using machines. That means, the industry was. At home we were washing our clothes with our hands and we were even making the soap. In my family, the only one who was actually reading the newspaper was my father. He was making covers for books and folders, so he was using machines. You must understand, that automobiles were then known but no one of the regular people had one. Even the emperor (I saw him once on Ringstrasse) was using a horse carriage.

Later, when I was a little older, say fifteen, the cinema was a very popular place to visit. To get news and it was also a form of entertainment. My piano teacher was playing in one of those theaters and I often went to see her. If it was not for her, I probably would not have been allowed to go there.

Q2. What about photography?

A2. Yes, there was photography at the time. My father used to take us on special occasions -it was expensive you know. I still have some of the pictures from back then. They are nice memories. For me it was always really exciting to go and it was very special for me.

Q3. What role did radio play for you and when did you get your first radio?

A3. We got a radio in the early thirties. Not many people in our house had one, but again my father was really keen on these things. My mother did not like it too much because she was very musical and hated the sounds of this box. During the Second War it was important because we were getting news. Then I got married, and 1935 we moved into our house and my husband got a radio. He liked to come home and play it. Our daughters grew up with radio and like the popular music, especially when they were older in the fifties (they were teenagers then). I was not so important for me, but for the girls it was good entertainment and modern.

Q4. When did you get a television?

A4. Not until very late. We did not have a lot on money and we never had one as long as my husband was alive. My son-in law gave us an old black and white one in 1968, but we did not watch so much, not as much now anyway.

Q5. Do you watch a lot now?

A5. I guess so. In the morning the news, at lunch the news and in the evening news again and broadcasts with traditional Austrian folk music. But I go to bed early so now I donít watch much of the police-films, as I used to when my grand-children were small. ..also western-movies, yeah, I liked those!

I donít see very well, even with glasses and I have difficulty hearing even with my hearing aids.

Q6. Why do you watch TV? For the news or for entertainment?

A6. You see, in the last 3 years, my health has drastically worsen. I used to be very active and I did not have many health problem, nothing severe anyway, and suddenly, I can't even leave the house. Thatís really horrible for me so I watch TV to pass some time. I used to play a few instruments every day, up until my health did not permit it, and what is the worst for me is not being able to do the things that I did all my life. Sometimes I think that I am just waiting to die. My family is taking really good care of me though and at least I am not all alone in this.

Q7. You also have a pace maker and a metal toe implant.

A7. Yes, I had heart surely last year. They did not even want to let me do this surgery because the doctors told me that I was too old for such a heavy dose of anesthesia. But I was in really bad shape and I decided: either this is my chance or I prefer to die. And I am still here .. limited in what I can do (as I said, I can hardy leave the house and I can't work) but I am here.

Q8. On your x-rays of the pace maker, you can really see the technology interwoven in your body. Do you ever think about this technology inside of you?

A8. Not really. I don't understand in detail what they did. I know that it helps my heart and that I am alive because of it. If you want to put it this way..that this piece of technology is inside of me..sure I guess that is not false but the only thing that matters for me is what it does for me.

Q9. Do you listen to your heart? Do you feel the metal inside of you?

A9. I donít feel anything of that. Sometimes, I do though, then I stop and "listen" and that's strange. I am usually just concerned that it keeps working fine. But I think that medicine and all that has developed to such a great point that I guess it just works, but don't ask me how and why!

Q10. What has changed for you in these past years that you have come to live with a lot of technologies, starting from dentures and hearing aids, right down to the pace maker?

A10. What has changed..I don't really know..I am older and the old machine, my body, is just not working as well as it used to (laughter) and I have to restrain myself and watch myself. It did not all happen at once but gradually I needed more and more of medical devices to help me.

Q11. Is it helping you to live?

A11. Yes, sure.

12. Do you know what a cyborg is?

A12. No I am sorry I don't.

Q13. Some would say that you are a cyborg, because you carry so much technology inside of you that you even need to live. Cyborg is a term that describes a life form that is partial human, partial something technology.

A13. But I am still human. I have some technology but a lot of it I don't see and I don't pay so much attention to it. It's more what it does for me that is important for me. I only have these things because my body was not working well. They help me.

Q14. Do you think that these technologies prolong your life?

A14. I don't know. When god wants to take me to him he will. I really don't know why he is taking so much time with me! (Laughter) But they help me, sure, with whatever.

Q15. Throughout your life, a lot of media and technologies entered your everyday life, such as the radio, later television, and in age medical devices. What do you think about that?

A15. I never really thought about it. Those were not the only things that changed. What I saw more is how morals changed and what is important in the life of a person. It is really different from when I was young.

Q16. Do you think that it might be because of technology or media?

A16. Maybe the television. Some of the movies that they show I find outrageous, but like I say, the morals are different today. Maybe there aren't even any, that's possible too.

Q17. If you knew today that you would have another 50 years to live, would you want to know how to use a computer?

A17. What for? I don't know what it does? I am a tailor and I like to play music and do the garden. And that is what I would do the next fifty years .. and maybe when my grandchildren have children themselves, I would baby-sit them. Kids are wonderful!

Q18. But you also were not so keen on radio and television at first, and then it gradually became a part of your life. The same could happen with computers.

A18. Maybe, I don't know. Then I guess I would use it.

Q19. Would you call yourself a cyborg then?

A19. I am starting to like this word: cyborg. I suppose if I was going to live another 50 years, I'd have to learn terms like this and yes, maybe I would call myself a cyborg (unless I discover that it is something dirty).

Q20. It's nothing dirty.

A20. Then you can go on and call me a cyborg.