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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reading Eric Packer Through The Interface of the Market: Inscription of the Body

Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer in Cosmopolis

Eric Packer cannot sleep. This is not because he is worried about the yen. This is because the market never sleeps. The market is interfaced in his brain, his mind, his body, his breathing, his barrel chest, his appetite and preference for foods, his sex life, and his reticular formation; in fact, he is totally inscripted. For more detail on the inscription of the body go here and here. For Butler go here.
Foucault-Discipline and Punish

As Foucault demonstrated at length in "Surveiller et Punir" it is these micro-mechanisms of power that, since the late 18th century, have played an increasing part in the management of people's lives through direct action on their bodies: they operate not through a code of law, but through a technology of normalization, not by punishment, but by control, at levels and in forms that go beyond the state and its machinery.... We must free ourselves from this image of power as law and sovereignty, says Foucault, if we are to understand how power actually operates  in our technologically advanced societies. Foucault has two aims in this proposed series of studies: to show that sex - an area where, above all others, power seems to function in terms of prohibition - is not, in fact, subjected to power in this way and, second, to formulate an alternative theory of power, 'another grid for deciphering history'. 'We must at the same time conceive of sex without the law and power without the king.'(Sheridan MFTWTT 183)

The new technologies, with their new machines, new images and interactive screens, do not alienate me. Rather they form an integrated circuit with me. Video screens, televisions, computers and Minitels resemble nothing so much as contact lenses in that they are so many transparent prostheses, integrated into the body to the point of being almost part of its genetic make-up: they are like pacemakers - or like Philip K. Dick's 'papula', a tiny implant, grafted onto the body at birth as a 'free gift', which serves the organism as an alarm signal. All our relationships with networks and screens, whether willed or not, are of this order. Their structure is one of subordination not of alienation - the structure of the integrated circuit. Man or machine? Impossible to tell. (Baudrillard The Transparency of Evil, p.58)

at amazon-link

 There is no better way in which the computer screen and the mental screen of our own brain are interwoven than Moebius's topology, with its peculiar contiguity of near and far, inside and outside, object and subject within the same spiral. It is in accordance with this same model that information and communication are constantly turning round upon themselves in an incestuous circumvolution, a superficial conflation of subject and object within and without, question and answer, event and image, and so on. The form is inevitably that of a twisted ring reminiscent of the mathematical symbol of infinity. (TOE p. 56)
This Moebius Strip is the structure of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The novel of the last half of the 20th century.

DFW at amazon


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