Q1: Commodification of the female body

In Karl Marx’s manifesto, under ‘The Fetishism of the Commodity and the Secret Thereof’ he uses the example of a piece of wood altered into a table, stating that “as soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent” (Marx, 1867), ie the moment the wooden table is tagged with a price, with monetary value placed on for purchasing purposes, it becomes a property that can be exchanged/traded. This property otherwise known as a commodity has ” properties…capable of satisfying human wants.” (Marx, 1867) Seemingly straightforward but complicated  by variables such as “labour” and “value” etc making it difficult to categorise ‘things’ into commodity and non-commodity or reaching any concise definition. Marx acknowledges this and thus calls commodity  “a mysterious thing.” (Marx, 1867)

The concept of a commodity and the word itself changes meaning when dealt with in various capital industries which engage in trade. For the purpose of exploration, the meaning of commodity shall be narrowed down to “an economic good, that is subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market “.

The ‘sick’ culture that i am going to explore is that of the commodification of the female body and how it is exploited in the beauty “market”. Beginning with the obsession of attaining that “ideal” female face

  
and  “perfect” female body through means of plastic surgery and then going on to commodity fetishism that is presented as completing the look of what it “means” to be a woman through purchasing branded items and fashion labels. Using examples of distribution channels such as television, magazines which have the ability of reaching a global audience. 

THE BODY

Deleuze and Guttari in their opening chapter of Anti Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia explored how “everything is a machine” (1972) and that there is “no such thing as relatively independent spheres or circuits” (1972) such that “production is immediately consumption…without any mediation…” (1972) Referring to the body, which this section of the essay is concerned with but taking their notion to think  first in terms of the television as a distribution point, part of the machinic process of consumption. Imagine the “organ machine plugged into an energy-source machine” (Deleuze & Guttari, 1972) ie the body in front of the television and the body on screen.

Beginning with the television business, there is no doubt that it is  “closely connected to consumer culture and the desire for commodities,” (Bignell, 2008 ) because everything that is aired, from commercials to drama serials that make it to screen have gone through a long process of careful research, detailed planning and gruelling production.

 

Talking about the female audience in specific, behind the scenes, they have been painstakingly segmented by age, with specific test groups set up, at times even involving scientist, mathematicians, even astrology taken into account, so as to be able to accurately “speak” to the women viewers. All the background work done, hoping for a hook-line-sinker strategy for women to become almost instantaneously hooked to, be it a serial or a product. The process of it all, similar to that of an unbreakable circuit that runs invisibly around the sphere, made up of women.

In the past, the television was considered “female” because it was usually found in the domestic realm of the home which was equated to being a woman’s territory. Many studies have been done to connect the television to women but more importantly, there are two things that anyone living in this postmodern era cannot deny, that women of today, are consumers and that they do watch the television.

In addition, the fact is that almost everyone in this day and age has at least one television set or at least heard of and have an idea of television making it a commonly used and acknowledged distribution channel to entice/lure/seduce. To top it all off, now, as women today, try to juggle all aspects of their lives (grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, employee, boss, chef, driver, shopper, fashionista etc) there is the mobile internet ‘tv’ to turn to when not in the confines or home/work.

Members of the beauty industry (make up, accessories, clothes, skin care, perfumes, fashion magazines etc), have long set aside large advertising budgets and focus their marketing strategies to the promotion of their products through the television medium. This is because the television as a media machine, effectively combines audio and visual elements unlike the radio (audio) or print (visual) presenting to perspective consumers/viewers at an international level with a “wow” factor that reaps monetary rewards, in the words of cologmerates, “more pay backs.”

The people behind “television programmes and regulations have been largely made by well educated and socially powerful eleite groups in society” (Bignell, 2008 ) who know very well how to manipulate the machine and audience, working together with their investors /partners to create an image like say the “celebrity-machine”, presented to the “female-machine”  as someone they can relate to, turn to, emulate even, essentially turning ‘on’ the “female-desire-machine”.

This becomes worrying as not all female viewers have had the benefit of education to discern or  have the financial capability to afford what they see. Many impressionable women fall into the “cultural trap” (Adorno and Horkhemier), leading them get stuck in a whirlpool of “indiscriminate consumption” (Bignell, 2008 ).

The consumption here being that of the commodified female body. Obviously this does not stop at the television, try, for just one day, deliberately, consciously taking in every possible visual/audio around, even ads on public transports, the semiotics are everywhere. Telling women how they should put on their make up, dress, the way their body should be sculpted to have that womanly figure.

We are all born with certain hair color, features that are inherited from our parents, or from the genes of the sperm and egg donors, which form our chromosomes and gives us the “look” that we have. But with products and services such as hair dyes, and plastic surgery, women can now turn their bodies into the beauty-machine, which can be “serviced” “upgraded”.

Plastic surgery in the past was once a hush hush sort of procedure where people who had, had “work done” would vehemently deny it ever happened. Yet plastic surgery has now become a widespread phenomena, openly talked about, celebrated and some celebrities talking to cameras about how it has boost their self image and so on. Plastic surgery procedures and the industry itself has secretly, quietly sneaked into the living rooms of homes through the television, not through in-your-face advertisments but with reality series and drama serials. Women’s bodies cut up on screen with females watching everything as they sit on their sofa sets. Both on screen and off screen, the women body has been commodified.  

In her article “It’s the great body swindle” in the Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2007, Cosima Marriner wrote “cosmetic surgery has become almost mainstream in the 21st century… … … … the notion has been reinforced by reality TV shows such as Extreme Makeover.”

Extreme Makover shows “ordinary” women who are not happy with their looks going under the knife in order to look “better”, upgrading their faces/bodies. Every part of the body turned into “parts” of the beauty-machine. You can get a “new” everything, brow, nose, cheekbones, chin, breasts, abdomen, hair and the list goes on.  Anything that is on the outside can be changed. Even largest organ of the body, skin can be updated.

Every episode begins with a ‘sob’ story, that goes along the line of the prospective ‘patient’ expressing their dissatisfaction with the way they look or their unhappiness with their dress size, and how they can achieve more in life, have more confidence, get over their intimacy issues and so forth if they “just had that better looking” body part. Needless to say part of the producers ploy to get viewers to sympathize/empathize with the person.

Seen in this particular clip, (be warned that her post op face before healing looks like a piece of overstretched skin covering her face and can be frightening to some)

this slightly older woman who is about to go for surgery, states with a quivering voice “what i feel on the inside is not what is showing on the outside…” (00.42-00.51) thus equating her outer apperance with both her self confidence and ability to express herself. 

At the end, the show (extreme make over) usually finishes with a big reveal to family and friends, the patient’s emotional ending expressing her gratitude and so on.  In the clip above, the same woman, in her ending, says “i think i looked better then i have ever looked.” (9.08)  The notion of aging gracefully here is no where to be found. The question is what happens when it all starts to fade, more surgery?  It has reached a stage where it becomes like “producing a product: a producing/product identity… … …  the whole process will begin all over again…” (Deleuze & Guttari, 1972).

Then there is the “hit” series Nip/Tuck, the story revolves around two male friends who are plastic surgeons, and they perform surgeries on various clients who come with their own story. A bit like extreme makeover ‘patients’ only the format of presentation being a drama series. The patient’s face/body existing features/structure lying on the table is first deconstructed by the surgeons and then reconstructed through sculpting and shaping in order to achieve that “perfect” face/body that they wish for.

In what i feel is the most classic scene of the series and a rather realistic take is this clip of an episode where one of the two plastic surgeons (Christian) , shows his then love interest, Kimber what it means to be a perfect 10.

In the opening Kimber is telling Chrisitian how some bouncer at a night club called her a “10” and she seems comfortable with her looks/body but once Christian convinces her otherwise it is almost as if her “facet” collapses. Similarly, in real life certain women feel pressured or become influenced into believing that the body and face they have a not good enough.

At the end, Christian says after, in my opinion “disfiguring” Kimber, “when you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead.” This is the disturbing mantra that some women, live by. The female body reduced to a commodity that this particular ‘sick’ culture (plastic surgery) industry feeds and preys on. Creating a social obession with the body aesthetic, causing women to constantly seek reaffirmation of their body through ridiculous ideals of beauty, going under the knife repeatedly to “fix” themselves, striving for that perfection that can never be attained.

The Accessorized Body

There is a saying  ‘clothes maketh a man’, not surprisingly the fashion industry reaps billions per annum, everyday cash registers on the clothes floor of shopping centres are ringing. The commodified female body is deemed incomplete unless she or rather her face is “painted” with make up and the body donned with the “right” clothes/shoes/accessories (eg: bags).

Beauty and fashion products are marketed to make a women believe that whatever they are selling will enhance her look and make her feel better about her self. As per the “famous” line by the ad people at Loreal goes: “Because You Are Worth It”.  It is impossible to list the number of brands of make up and fashion houses or even to attempt to count the number of fashion magazines targetted at women.

Fashion magazines themselves are a thriving industry, featuring editorials such as how to better manage your time, fast diet methods, ways to greater sex etc but the hidden beneath all these so called self help articles, the core? Commodity Fetishism is being pushed and hard sold. Pages of branded fashion house advertisments, cosmetic brands new range of products, models with the “perfect” faces and bodies presented on colored pages, almost like mannequins. These magazines themselves are commodity products whose “cost of production are covered not simply by their purchase price but by the advertisments for products presented to their readers.” (Bignell, 2008 ) In other words, the brands pay good money to get these advertisments printed. Both parties willing readers to buy, buy, buy!

Going back to Marxist theory, commodity fetishism is the belief that “value inheres in commodities instead of being added to them through labor” (Marx, 1867) eg: how much it cost to produce a branded bag versus the selling price of it because of its brand name. And as Bignell writes “commodity fetishism this term dervied from Marx’s analysis of capitalist societies, describes the fascination with consumer objects whose value lies in their power to signify signs of luxury, social power, sexual attractiveness.” (Bignell, 2008 ) This is what the modern day women and the commodified female body is concerned with.

Using Sex and the City the series as a point of reference to discuss commodity fetishism,  I was at a supermarket the other day and there on the magazine rack was Sarah Jessica Parker on almost every magazine cover, because of the Sex and the City the movie hype.

(these images are taken off the internet because 1. i did not have a camera with me in the supermarket and 2. i don’t think they would have been very happy with me taking pictures even if i had)

Some background to Sex and the City, the series, originated from “the book, Sex and the City, a popular bestseller by Candace Bushnell, derived from the newspaper columns she had published since 1994 in the New York Observer. She has also written about the New York party going elite for the magazine Beat before writing freelance for Self, Mademoiselle and other magazines.” (Bignell, 2008 )

Sex and the City the television series “focuses on the collective and individual day to day activities of four women friends in New York. The four charcters are very rarely seen at work, but they are wealthy enough to spend much of the on-screen time shopping, going to parties, lunching with each other and dating wealthy professional men.” (Bignell, 2008 )

Lead actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s character ‘Carrie’ and her friends are concern with being seen in public “to best advantage when wearing Manolo Blahnik shoes and carrying Gucci handbags.” (Bignell, 2008 )
not to mention always looking impeccable and with the growing influence of the series, these “ladies” have since inspired many looks and become some sort of a definitive style that women want to have.

Sex and the City storyline draws on concerns with components of the discourse of woman magazines ie what goes on in a “woman’s world” (Winship, 1987) the semiotics of it being, distinguishing what it means to be feminine, a woman. This is done through a lot of different modes of consumption, from the places they go, the drinks/food they have, attire they put together. Their lifestyle honestly consisting of the fetishzing of commodities.

Going back to the idea of machines working on machines, Sex and the City the series has gone on to create spin off’s or rather drama serials inspired by their success such as Cashmere Mafia, which  was created by Candace Bushnell’s former creative partner from Sex and the City, Darren Star as well as Lipstick Jungle also based on Candace Bushnell’s novel. Two more drama serials to add to the existing least of serials which portray women who seem to have “have it all”, careers in various beauty industries and distribution points promoting commodity fetishism (eg: In Cashmere Mafia – actress Lucy Liu’s character runs a magazine. In Lipstick Jungle – actress Kim Raver, editor-in-chief of a hot fashion magazine and has her eye on becoming CEO.)

Reiterating  the idea of “producing a product: a producing/product identity…”(Deleuze & Guttari, 1972) and how “the whole process will begin all over again…” (Deleuze & Guttari, 1972) with the forces of television and magazines merging on screen and off screen it just serves to remind how the industry drives itself and that women who are on the recieving end, have to realize that and not turn into blind mice.

On The Today Show  in an interview with actress Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP), cast member of Sex and the City the series and movie  (29/5/08 ) responded to a the first question from a viewer named Darlene, about how many shoes she had in real life in contrast to her on screen character Carrie.  SJP said “I don’t mean to disappoint this early in the morning and at the first question but I ain’t footing such a bill.”  In another related interview SJP  said she is “not a slave to fashion and that clothes don’t play as big a role in her life as in Carrie’s.”

Ironically she is the face of many other fashion houses and beauty products and herself has launched her own line of fragrance , cashing in on her celebrity status. As much as she may try and seperate her onscreen character and her real self, or try wriggle in some form of “warnings”, pearl’s of wisdom to women out there, there are still many who just want to emulate her. Women want to have her (be it Carrie/SJP) hair, her dresses, her shoes, her overall LOOK. Maybe with a spritz of SJP fragrance for that finishing touch.

There is also wardrobe designer for Sex and The City series, Patricia Field
 who also consults for Cashmere Mafia, who has made her name for herself and gain semi-celebrity status. She has gone on many television interviews and said in magazines interviews that it is not about brands, and that if a viewer wants to have a certain look they should not blindly follow trends, they should dare to mix high and low, meaning wearing brands with pieces of unknown labels. She and SJP may mean well and trying indirectly warn ladies out their, the pitfalls of “indiscriminate consumption” (Bignell, 2008 ) but it falls upon deaf ears upon on certain segments of women who simply want to look like they have walk off the set of the drama serials they see on screen.

Women turning into slaves for brands adopting the believe  that without a certain brand name under their belt, they are not “in style”. Their existence becoming dependent on the market trends churned out by the beauty/fashion industry, season after season. The number one rule they live by is to never ever be caught committing any form of fashion ‘faux pa’ , to them, a deadly sin and unforgivable mistake.

If one  earns enough and has the  ability to afford these branded accessories, or occassionally spoiling/giving a treat to oneself by buying something branded simply based on the fact that you like it, is well within reasonable limits. It gets out of hand when the female “desire machine” (Deluze & Guttari, 1972) overwhelms one’s entire being. Draining financial resources so as to have the latest most up to date branded wardrobe. Self worth being measured by material goods owned. In extreme cases not being able to function because one does not have ‘that pair of shoes’, sinking into depression even. Then it becomes official, the female desire machine has turned into a obsessive disorder blinded by commodity fetishism.

Everywhere we look or don’t look, (just listen) the average female is bombarded at least three times a day by some form of media to do something/ buy something. In the end it all boils down to women knowing where to draw the line, which requires some sense of agency not simply as mentioned repeatedly “indiscriminate consumption” (Bignell, 2008 ).  When a women finds herself never satisfied with her face and body, scrimping, saving, borrowing, sacrificing a quality of life even nutrition so that she can own that branded piece of cloth or item or have an extra “botox” done, alarm bells should ring and she should become aware that something in the mental machine has gone awry.  

Referring to Walter Benjamin (1968 ) who argued that mechanical reproduction processes gave rise to the media of photography, cinema, and that television subsitutes ‘a plurality of copies for a unique existence’ and Deleuze and Guttari who have reckoned the body to that of a machine, “machines driving other machines, machines being diriven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections,(1983) unless women want to become commodified COPY like all other machinic bodies of the beauty industry, learning to be comfortable in one’s own skin, being a discerning consumer, knowing whats best for one’s body and not becoming a puppet of the industry is essential. Somehow establishing one’s own identity and resisting this sick culture industry that we live in, trying at every opportunity to tell us how to look.

References:

Film and Television

Sex and the City (the series) 1998-2004

Extreme Make Over, 2002-2007

Nip/Tuck 2003-present

Sex and the City (the movie) 2008

Texts

Adorno, T., Horkeimer, M. “The Culture Industry: enlightenment as mass deception”, in The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During. London & New York: Routledge, 1993

Benjamin, W. “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” in illuminations, ed. H. Arendt, trans. H. Zohn, New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968

Bignell, J., “An Introduction to Television Studies, 2nd Ed” London, New York, Routledge, 2008

Deleuze, G., Guttari, F. “The I Desiring Machines” in Anti Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: University of minnesota Press, 1972

Marx, K. (1867) ‘The Fetishism of the Commodity and the Secret Thereof”, [Das Kapital] Karl Marx Capital: An Abridged Edition, ed. David Mclellan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999

Miklitsch, R., “From Hegel to Madonna : towards a general economy of commodity fetishism”, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998

Winship, J. “Inside Women’s Magazines”, London, Pandora, 1987

SBS: Love Me Love My Doll by BBC America

decided to take break from all the research and stuff and watched this on sbs…as per the title of this entry: Love Me Love My Doll … an eye opener/shocker i cant quite find the right word…
here are some bloggers who wrote about the “documentary”
http://dulcedosa.blogspot.com/2007/06/love-me-love-my-doll.html
http://adventuresparttwo.blogspot.com/2007/06/love-me-love-my-doll-bbc-america.html 
http://www.hossli.com/articles/2004/01/01/real-dolls/ (contains graphic images)

an article from TIME mag based on these dolls…
be forewarned there is a link to a website which is the source of these dolls and seriously distubring and eerie and just…
http://www.time.com/time/interactive/love/sex_np.html (
aside from being highly disturbed on so many levels…i have to say taken my own personal bias-ness and concerns aside…the “DOLL” is pretty much like a synthetic cyborg…a real body without organs…the “repairs” that are done to them reminds me of the social obession bit we covered… i apologize for not being able to be more coherent (yes with that bloody flu back again and everything just mashed in my head) just as yet but really goodness…not just the psychological aspects of it but so much more can be devloped on this i think…

Opening clips

thought these few clips of the opening of the series might be useful to think about in relation to with our social obessions…

opening of Nip Tuck, the first time i saw this series i my draw quite literally dropped, listen closely to the lyrics esp at the end:

series revolves around 2 friends who run a plastic surgery practice, there is an affair, love child etc but more importantly the various characters/people they operate on…

opening of House, i mean the organs, nerves and all…

usual sexual tension, complicated relations a bit like Greys Anatomy but interesting cases each episode which involves one hella lot of medical terminology, tests and so on

opening of Bones

the forensic doctor who solves murder mysteries but looking at the remains of a persons bone structure.

the very disturbing dead ringers

seriously worth a watch though you may find yourself cringing a bit at certain parts

Lars von Trier & BWO

Lars von Trier you’ve got to love his “comments” at the end of each epi in kingdom…hilarious)
Bkgrd info:
“Lars Trier was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was raised by nudist communist parents. Trier notes that he was brought up in an atheist family, and that although his stepfather was Jewish, he was not religious. His parents did not allow much room in their household for “feelings, religion, or enjoyment,” and also refused to make any rules for their children, with complex results for von Trier’s personality and development. The young Lars found in cinema an outlet to the outside world through which he could learn about subjects otherwise forbidden from his study by his parents. He began making his own films at the age of 11 after receiving a Super-8 camera as a gift and continued to be involved in independent moviemaking throughout his high school years.”

the film maker 
“Listening to him talk about his films, one senses that in school he developed a lifelong delight in breaking conventions and rules. He made the early films work despite (or because of) opaque story-lines, self-conscious voiceovers, and unusual manipulations of sound and image.”

the pornographer?
“Von Trier wasn’t indulging in pornography to turn people on — the basest but perhaps most honest motivation…”

The one we watched was the first part of the mini series:
Riget (1994)

“The Kingdom is the most technologically advanced hospital in Denmark, a gleaming bastion of medical science. A rash of uncanny occurrences, however, begins to weaken the staff’s faith in science–a phantom ambulance pulls in every night, but disappears; voices echo in the elevator shaft; and a pregnant doctor’s fetus seems to be developing much faster than is natural. At the goading of a spiritualist patient, some employees work to let supernatural forces rest. “

While watching what cross my mind was how it reflected pretty realistically – hospital politics, loved the parody of the elite superior mentality (the betheren of ‘brothers’ doctors),  the strange lady who can “connect with the dead”  (thought of the highly hilarious Supernatural and Ghost Whispherer ) but most importantly critquing the right of mankind messing with “human life” i guess…to do with ethics, morals again… what stood out for me was the two mentally challenged children in the basement doing the dishes

it has been known that much studies have been done to understand the DNA sequences of these children and sometimes they have this special ability unlike “normal” human beings and may be specially gifted in one certain aspect.

though they look different, sound different, behave different, they are at times even more aware of their surroundings then we are because they notice things that we overlook. i’m not quite sure why Von Trier chose to do so…what was his purpose… will try and find it out…

the camera work at times made me feel a bit oozy, but the general plot kept me wanting to know more…stayed to watch the 2nd epi and prob try to get the dvd series when possible

there is part two to the series:
Riget II (1997)

“It starts with the birth of “Little Brother”, the son of diabolical murderer Aage Kroeger and the nurse Judith. Doctor Helmer is back from Haiti with some poison and is set to turn Krogshoej into a zombie. Mrs. Drusse gets hit by the phantom taxi. The two dishwashers feel that the forces of Evil are about to wreak havoc on the hospital.”

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So now then what is our obession with medicine/biology/science?
Are we perhaps like Von Trier curious? wanting to push borders of the unknown or even forbidden? or even just our own morbid fascinations…

as put by the 2 great minds Deleuze and Guattari (3rd reading for the week)
“You never reach the BWO, you can’t reach it, you are forever attaining it, it is a limit.”
“Scurrying like a vermin, groping like the blind, running like a lunatic, normad of the steppes, we sleep, we live our waking lives, fight-fight and are fought, seek our place, exprience untold happiness and fabulous defeats, we penetrate and are peneetated, on it we love.”

like per my last entry, because we do not know, we seek…
we try by understanding the human make up
from blood cells to nerves to neurons, transmiters, muscles etc
somehow maybe by knowing ourselves we can figure out WHAT causes us to behave the way we do,
understand our cognitive patterns

just yesterday after attending the Million Paws Walk with my friend who is now in her 4th year of med, we got ourselves a hearty KFC meal and went back to her place. her number of medical textbooks proudly displayed in her hall has grown. the sheer size and thickness of each book is just jaw dropping…anyway her recent purchase:
Classic Anthology of Anatomical Charts, 2 Volume Set

which i casually flipped through while we waited for the water to boil, each page meticulously (expensively) laminated, with colorful “life like” drawings and squished words, explaining from what cases migranes, reason for depression, stages of different type of cancers, more importantly CURES, OPERATIONS, MRI, CT scans and so on… reminded me of the 2nd article by Eugene Thacker and the whole visble human anatomy and who we “decode the body and read the body through the use of x-rays, in order to have a anatomical gaze…” interesting how he compared the body to creating a website…

i guess the Pathology  branch of medicine is something that we see a lot in shows like CSI, Bones, ER, even in House. think it was a great punchline when one of the doctors in Riget, who wanted to obtain the right do a postmot on the patient who was technically still alive but dying soon, to retrieve the whole cancer mass,  so as to be able to wrap up his 10 year research and could not obtain permission from the family, he turned to the berethen of doctors in the kingdom to in some way “help him for the greater good of medicine and IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE

sure it is great with the medical advances that we have, larger number of lives can be saved but again like in my previous entries, it all starts to go wrong when it lands in the wrong hands and brought to extremes. 

everyday we are trying to make sense of, discovering new thins, attempt to comfort ourselves, trying to find ways to extent life, solve illness that we cant see (think of previous week-infect) but it is all complicated with the selfishness of the human psyche…

mmm moving along…way of reading the various bodies that pop to mind was this:

-the schizo body : when some one first gets cancer

-the drugged body : when the person with cancer is on pills and in chemo

-the masochist body : the body fighting , the person’s suffering to battle cancer

“the BWO is what remains when you take everything away, what you take away is precisely the phantasy, and significances and subjectifications as a whole.”

“the BWO can no longer be populated by anything but intnsities of pain, pain waves”

the emotional aspect of dealing with life, our ranges of emotions from happiness, sadness, pain, conflicts etc are just as important even if “psychoanalysis does the opposite of bwo: translating everything into phantasises, it converts everything into phantasy, it retains the phantasy, it royally botches the real, because it botches the bwo.” because i feel it is necessary to a certain extent for us to stay sane…or deal with reality. (esp now with the tragedies happening, from the 5 car collision on lygon, to the quakes in china, to the weather in america causing devastation, to the on going wars…)

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everything above tends to sound a bit depressing/negative even but perhaps it is the effects of the furry 4 legged friends but as from D&G’s article, reading this bit:

“matter equals energy. production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. that is why we treat the BWO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs, before the formation of strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinematic movements involving group displacement by migrations…”

what came to mind when reading this was LIFE…

when the fusion of sperm and egg occurs, to form the zygote

ie the egg before extension
extension being perhaps head body arms legs and internal organs to form the foetus,

dynamics including the mother’s womb, the fluids, the feeding tube etc
the fact that we are hopefully have the resilence to fight on, and at the end of the day pray for the best.

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to sum it up, our interest in the medical body (pathology) is the same as our interest in juicy celebrity gossip, our desire to belong (thus commodity culture or even commodity fetishism), we will always want to know more, push the lines and see how far we can go…human nature?
its a cycle that we feed…(just like capitalism) vicious maybe but thats just how it goes…

Territorialization Deterritorialization Reterritorialization

touching a bit on farscape in point form:
-(the intial episodes as we watched)  are more focused on bodies/relationships but as mention in tute, farscape does eventually have those big battle scenes and stuff in later seasons and towards the end
-there is the obvious gender sterotype esp this clip that was show in class today by the presenter
-interesting to think about how television series are filmed in other countries and then packed and sent to hollywood and  for international viewership in relation to territorialzation etc

With regard to this question posted in lec and on screen machine:

Why do TV aliens so often wear their veins / brain matter / organs etc on the outside?
-for televisual affect
-because of our innate need to ALWAYS have a form of classification, some way of identifying 
-because humans/viewers judge others by appearances
-perhaps a bigger/underlying notion of as we watch the series, we overlook how the charcters outer apperances and identify with their mind/behaviour/emotions and IF we could JUST do that in real life… there would not be racism/religious in tolerance etc etc
 
Why do some of the aliens in Farscape look human?
-because of things like machines
-because of hybridity
-because it signifies disinformation?
-because the scriptwriter planned to confuse/shock viewers?
i wonder if at times scriptwriters have a certain aim but end up with something even greater then they originally plan esp with sci fi where they can just explore…not nec stick to some moralistic ending…they can create pretty much another world, allegorical or whatever…-muse-

Righty-o…(tries to rid mind of notions of machine and humans for a moment) i shall ramble on what i like to think of as shells *our body and space *our environment…

We all have our pre concieved notions of territorialization (esp when thinking of history, like the colonialization period etc) however this notion of absolute deterritorialization (Deleuze&Guattari) that is inseparable from vectors  (which are signs? languages??) is just so so so vast…i feel that there is no possible way to have absloute deterritorialization…or not yet anyway…

somehow this para (to me) seems to summarize the notion of te/dete/rete/rritorialization is:
(know how some stuff just “speaks” to you?)

“The essence of a life form is not simply the environment that supports life, nor simply a form which, given proper environment, will live. The essence of a living system is in the coupling of form with environment. The environment is that context, and the form is the content. If we consider them together, we consider the nature of life.”  (in Jussi Parikka’s article it was talking about the centre of viral theory but i read it in context to the first…)

i cant quite explain and in proper wording but i will try my best to be coherent if  that is even…logicially possible…right…here goes:

territorialization (form) – the environment that supports life – our body our home our country – mother earth if you may

deterritorialization (system/environment) – even if we have our heart replaced with a pig’s heart or fitted with a pace maker – even if we are in a different country – dressed in different clothes – even if we exchange bodies – we are still who we are no? just in a foreign shell/space 

reterritorialization (nature of life) – almost like evolution and the result of hybridity – mutation even

following my train of thought? haha

i guess what i am interested in with the whole sci fi thing going on goes back to the age old question of what is life? why am i here? which leads to many other various OTHER questions…what makes us?who are we? why do we have such anxieties and fear? what makes humans’ tick? why do we have wars? is the idea of peace that inconcievable? (on and on and on…)

in the second article computer viruses are said to be machines in the deleuzo-guattarian sense of the word  in that they are connection makers reaching out and beyond their seeming borders in order to find functional couplings. (The essence of a living system is in the coupling of form with environment.) what are the borders out there? who defines the borders?

im incline to think that because we cannot see these computer viruses or the ones that attack our bodies that make us sick, (linked back to one of my previous entry on how in this day and age we can cope with not knowing how to say defend/prevent) that gives rise to our overactive imagination and curiousity that drives us to seek…

from deleuze and guattari a very interesting diagrammatic
““The diagrammatic or abstract machine does not function to represent, even something real, but rather constructs a real that is yet to come, a new type of reality.” (A Thousand Plateaus 142)”
this is what happens when you put 2 great minds together! 

somehow the more stuff we watch on sci fi, thinking of machines, bodies etc i somehow think of astrology, psychics, out of body experiences, soul swapping, near death experiences (sometimes brushed off as fluff by some people…)

i guess my preoccupation/long list of questions with the idea of absolute deterritorialization has to do with my unanswered questions to do with death (since i was…12…)
what happens after we die? are our bodies merely shells? what happens to our supposed “souls”?
(sure there are religious/philosophical/scientific etc etc answers but…mmm)

Robot+Human=Humanoid


Continuing my search robots and humans and getting my head round the notion of robots possibly having feelings and emotions…the worry about that line being blurred with increasing progress…
(extracts from each article are in italics)

i think this was created in 1999
American society for the prevention for cruelty to robots
“How can we tell when a robot is experiencing cruelty?”

probably similar to the idea of ethics of science/bio/med
Ethics for the robot age
“there’s the frightening opportunity for using animals as cheap, disposable robot bodies…”

this one ties in with the ethical issue
Legal rights for robots
“some futurists have already begun to devise elaborate codes of ethics for robots”

mmm…
Man and Machines
“AT SOME POINT IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE, we might actually face a sentient, intelligent machine who demands, or who many come to believe deserves, some form of legal protection. “

linked to the notion of A.I and also our anxieties of them taking over…
Can a machine ever become self aware?
“The dual connotation often attributed to science fiction robots represents the clear expression of desire and fear…”

never ceases to amaze me what us humans can come up with…
Robots that make you think
“the Hopper had to keep moving to stay upright – just like humans”

leave it to the Japanese to come up with this…
“female” android named Repliee Q1Expo.
“She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.”


and (on a lighter note…though it actually can be rather disturbing depending on how you look at it…)from a site called freaky news…a contest of photoshop-ed photos that create “humanoids” “fueled by the following news: Scientists claim a discovery of a new humanoid species they called Island Hobbit. The species found was a woman humanoid found on the island in Indonesia and who lived some 18,000 years ago. Scientists claim the species can not be considered the same species as humans and need to be treated as a separate humanoid species.”

Natural City

Do we have like some alliance with SBS??
im only asking because i just finished watching Natural City

A korean movie (2003) with the following plot outline:
It is 2080 and the world has become a high-tech society. Genetic engineering and mechanical engineering has reached its peak. Cyborgs have become an integral part of human life. A unit of MPs is formed to clean out expired cyborgs, among them Agent R who falls in love with a female dancing cyborg, Ria. She has only three days left in her lifecycle but R wants to quit the force and take her to Koyo, the ‘planet of rebirth’. R, with the help of a dangerous scientist, illegally harvests artificial intelligence chips from dead cyborgs in order to save Ria’s life. He’s also involved with a street girl, Cyon, a human who has been implanted with cyborg memories.

TALK about coincidences…ANYWAY

the movie dealt with social class (like the ghetto and city)
there were a lot of shots of the high rise buildings, advert halos, but it still had that gritty fee, while the “ghetto” or the place opposite the city was built on stilts, a bit like a fishing village and more ‘natural’, humanisit…people and cyborgs alike had different social segregations.

as much as its suppose to romantic that R wants to save Ria (the cyborg designed to dance in a club), also prob to reflect the problematic relationship of human falling for essential a machine…the sacrifices and blood on his hands including the death of his best friend Noma at the end…was seriously like DUDE?!

the actress who played Ria the cyborg, managed to capture the inbetween of human and machine. the sudden emotional outbursts, facial expressions that seem also human like, yet at times totally lacking in any form of human warmth/common sense (like when R came back after punishment from the army, sick and coughing away…)applaude worthy.

the battle scenes between human and cyborgs was full of blood (looked a bit like diluted red water color)

haha BUT BUT that being said there were intense moments and pretty cool fight movements and i guess the fact that humans triumph over cyborgs and the whole good over evil, was pretty “encouraging”…interesting enough to keep me watching though at some bits it was a tat bit…choppy…and messy…mmm

OH! while watching it was reminded of a manga i read quite sometime ago its called
CHOBITS

The story centers on the life of Hideki Motosuwa, a repeat student attempting to qualify for university by studying at the Seki prep school in Tokyo. Besides a girlfriend, the other thing he dreams of having is a Persocom. A Persocom is an android used as a personal computer; however, they are expensive, and Hideki has no money.

On his way home one evening, he stumbles across a Persocom in the form of a beautiful girl with long blonde hair lying against a pile of trash bags. He first thinks this to be a murder but, realizing she was a Persocom, he carries her home.

As the manga progresses, it is found that there is the good/evil side to this Persocom which has to do with her “family” background ie her creator’s own history…

Similarly, Hideki falls for Chi (the persocom) and things start to get seriously wrong once emotions get the better of us humans. It was turned into an Anime (like many manga series) so yup…shall end of on that note..

right 3am…(i always tell myself to sleep earlier…but nooo…)right…off i go

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