4.26.2011

What Body Are We Breeding?

I know I've written and ranted about this before, but it surfaced in my mind and in my fingertips so here it is again, in a different form....

The obligations of the day blind us. We focus on waking up and getting ready, getting where we need to go, negotiating work and family and love and bills and traffic and taxes. It's not often that we afford ourselves the opportunity to survey the world, its mechanics and mode of operation. You'd think the media would help us with that but the opposite is true: the media focuses on current affairs, rarely stepping back to critique the system.

Step back for a moment now and look at the mechanics of the world around you. Look at what's demanded of the body, how its movement is choreographed throughout the day. It's quite odd.

Our jobs not only don't ask us to move — they demand that we don't move. We sit at desks for hours upon hours, staring at a screen occasionally getting up to drink some coffee or chat with a co-worker. A body that moves, that flexes its muscles, an active body: this goes against the very basis of the information economy.

Meanwhile, we feed this still body poorly. Obviously, not all of us: some of us take the time to pack a nice lunch, to eat well, to treat this stationary, withering frame of ours. But, on the whole, I think it's safe to say that Americans at their jobs are not only not moving, they're eating absolutely terrible food, gut wrenching food, soul killing food.

And drinking loads of lattes — antibiotic infused, hormone drenched milk fat with some shitty coffee in it.

This world is breeding a body that does not want to move, a body that is not physically vital. Sure, there are gyms, these ghettos of movement. But I'm not sure mindless, concerted movement breeds a healthy body. Watching tv while working an exercise bike ensures that we remain locked into the information economy, to the exchange of the new capital: images.

And so, as a culture, we are being bred to manipulate pixels and words, images and icons. Capital demands a new kind of body, one that doesn't need to lift or heave — and one that doesn't want to run about, fuck, frolic. The industrial age is truly over; the informational body is being born.

And it is not pretty, this birth, this metamorphosis, this breeding. It demands a disciplining of our days that is unsavory — waking to the shrill cry of the alarm clock, slouching through maniacal traffic, being forced to sit at a desk staring at a screen for hours upon hours.

Marcuse calls this the body of labor. But that's not quite right because the very nature of labor has changed — and this new labor doesn't want a body at all. It wants a brain that can fill in the gaps between machines, between computers. I want to say: it's the antibody of non-labor labor. But that's a supremely ugly phrase.

The body of pleasure is being bred out of existence, leaving us literally impotent, popping Viagra just to continue the species.

And the shitty things is, this whole thing is gonna come crashing down and we'll need to be strong, really fucking strong, to survive. But by then we'll be shriveled, mere husks left to be blown away by the mighty winds that come.

3 comments:

69959e5a-57e2-11e0-a3a5-000bcdcb2996 said...

Weird. This has been racking my brain throughout this monotonous day. Rather than surveying this system, I tend to just flow through it cursing myself for allowing my mundane existence to get this far. I agree that we're being consumed by these so called technological advances, and that we can't notice our surroundings which fucks up any sense of perception. I think the answer would be to create your own, unique mode of operation. But how does one do this? Anyway back to another lifeless meeting while I munch on Burger King fries....

Pierre said...

Knowing a little poor countries, I was also fascinated by the fact that comfort hurts the body. In a poor country you need your body to walk, to physically work some times, to make practical things you do yourself. You practice often strenght, you also practice agility. Whereas in west countries body is a poor thing which has some qualities extra developed and some other completly forgotten. To give a poor exemple, the sight is over requested when you are in front of a computer, and feet are useless.

A french poet, song writer and singer goes farther: comfort hurts people for him (Brassens). It makes individual over aware of perticular things, and completely neglecting most of the world. You forget to appreciate urbanism, style of a neighborhood, every day friendly relationship, because you agree to stand forfucking mandatory pressions, or to wAtch this also fucking price less flat wide screen TV. You forget what is sitting well, because you have this sofa. And even, you enjoy a luttle of the power that gives money. Not the real power of big capitalists whose for laws of the community becomes a detail, but nevertheless a poor, thrifling feeling of power and superiority.

jay said...

It turns out sitting all the time is so unhealthy it doesn't even matter if you exercise. Sitting pretty much totally counteracts the benefits of excercising. That, I think, is brilliant, in a perverse way.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/phys-ed-the-men-who-stare-at-screens/