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ÚVAHA: Center and periphery of the body designed by science fiction 2/3

28.11.2010

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To demonstrate the social implications of the design changes of the human body let’s take the old example: Does tattoo or piercing constitute an ideology? When people modify their bodies by tattooing, piercing and scarring continuing up to the cyborg and/or virtual identity, they push hereby themselves into the centre of some community and proclaim their aspiration to stay away off the other communities, or inhabit only their periphery. Even the biologically not substantial peripheral part of their design as the skin color makes them unacceptable by some communities. The disabled persons are surviving marginalized in periphery of the social majority.

Not always marginalized. Medicine saved Stephen Hawking’s brain in cyborg’s body. Healthy people also are paying the amputation of their body-identity. They let themselves to be forced upon the refusal of their own bodies; they are buying an artificial identity to be tomorrow switched over by new fashion identity. This connotation of the concept "posthuman” is exemplified by celebrities. Michael Jackson is a shadow fluctuating among various personages: both colored and white, man and woman, child and adult, artist and businessman, childlike and erotic, and in the end dead and alive, perhaps livelier post mortem than he ever was during his physical life. Children and animals in Neverland Valley do not sort him out in terms of social categories; amorphous mass perceives him as a collective being vocalizing affectionately to all his appearances: "We love you, we love you…” Less than self-identical person, Jackson is more a design fulfilled by other designs; by series of bioengineering mutations he became a product created for consumption, bodiless medial phantom without centre and periphery. It is the absence of consistent personality which opens way for multitude of his embodiments to address several public groups.

Center and periphery are not merely material concepts, a physical description. The duality centre – periphery is primarily a cultural invention. Its cultural origin makes it to one of the fundamental metaphors of our thinking 3. Various political and ethical implications rise up – the centre is powerful, rich and ruling, well organized, irradiating civilization, inhabited by full-value persons (citizens); the periphery is week, poor and submissive, chaotic, disordered, needs to be civilized, inhabited by underpersons (in some societies not enjoying citizens rights), sometimes even not human, slaves, pagans, barbarians etc.

Rest of article you can read here.

Ondrej Herec














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