lotu5 on Wed, 16 Jul 2008 00:08:03 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Dreaming of Molly Millions, the Panther Moderns and Body Hacking

Wade Tillett wrote:

> On Sat, 2008-07-12 at 23:44 -0700, lotu5 wrote:
>> http://technotrannyslut.com/2008/07/11/dreaming-of-molly-millions-the-panther-moderns-and-body-hacking/ 
>> form of resistance to them. A major part of biopower, in my view, is to 
>> ensure that you are limited to the body that you’re given, and so 
>> changing it disrupts the way biopower functions.
> Why wouldn't biopower welcome new possibilities of body? Of course body
> modifications that increase productivity would be welcome. But even any
> body modification stands to potentially produce "an emerging market
> area" (as you mentioned), a new field of limitations/possibilities. A
> fresh ground for (re)territorialization. This does not mean it shouldn't
> be done, but rather that we should question any assumption that this is
> necessarily liberatory or disruptive with regard to biopower.
> Modifications need to be deliberated within particular situations, with
> the "awareness of the extent to which media divorce the act of terrorism
> from the original sociopolitical intent" (as you quoted Gibson).


I agree, that's a useful correction, to a certain extent. Yesterday I 
was on the picket line at the UC wide AFSCME service worker strike. All 
the service workers including food, janitorial, grounds, patient care 
and building maintenance are on strike across the university of 
california. On the picket line, of the 100 people I was marching with, I 
was one of three individuals with white skin. Today, I'm at my other job 
working on an archive for an art festival, and everyone in the room has 
white skin, and the big head honcho is a man, and is the only male in 
the room. So, I am constantly reminded that biopower works in the US to 
keep people of color, women and queer people oppressed, with less 
privilege than white skinned people.

Yet there is the promise of the flexible personality, as brian holmes 
has written about. maybe brian can chime in here. It seems that Second 
Life is a good example of this, offering the possibility for becoming 
someone totally different, as long as it stays in second life and you 
show up to work the next day, obediently. As Terry Eagleton writes in 
"Invitation to an Orgy", even an orgy is perfectly acceptable, as long 
as it is kept in its place. So while body modifications like tattoos are 
perfectly acceptable and even very useful for marketing, like the tattoo 
TV shows that Michael points out or the game Guitar Hero, testosterone, 
which makes women look and sound much like men in a matter of months, is 
tightly controlled through legal, medical and psychiatric systems. There 
seem to be questions of degree and of time for power to adjust. While 
today, face transplants and full body skin tone changes might be 
difficult for power to still control, it is likely only a matter of time 
until control mechanisms are adjusted to account for total 
transformation, say through genetic identification. Will genetic therapy 
will be the radical gesture then?

Perhaps you offer the best adjustment, that each use of body 
modification and application should be evaluated on its own. While RFID 
passport implants are very useful to governments, perhaps RFID jamming 
implants are not. While vision enhancement implants are very useful for 
intel engineers working on better microchpis, they are not friendly to 
present regimes of biopower when put to use by palestinians building 

Michael Wojcik wrote:

 > lotu5 wrote:
 >> Looking back at William Gibson's Neuromancer, I wonder, why has so much
 >> geek energy and time gone into creating one aspect of his vision in the
 >> book, cyberspace, and not others, like body hacking? Yes, I know that
 >> Vernor Vinge came up with the concept of Cyberspace before Gibson, but
 >> Gibson's book is the one most often cited as the huge cultural influence
 >> at the root of contemporary cyberculture.
 > I think that's a convenient fiction. I don't believe Gibson's work was
 > really very influential in the development of "cyberculture" (an
 > odious neologism, IMO, with no meaningful relationship to Wiener's
 > cybernetics). It's a handy pop-culture referent, because of its
 > faddish popularity, but I don't see any evidence that much serious
 > work used it as a blueprint or even a vision.

Sure, net culture would be more specific.

So are you saying that science fiction in general doesn't inspire 
technical developments, or that you just don't think gibson in 
particular is significant? Clearly VR is not very popular, but there is 
a global worldwide network of computers that is represented graphically, 
which is basically what Gibson describes in Neuromancer. As I said, 
vernor vinge's True Names presented the idea earlier, but Neuromancer is 
widely cited as an influential text in the development of the internet. 
Gibson's wikipedia entry actually has a long description of the 
influence of Neuromancer:


Personally, I found Neuromancer inspiring, and went on to spend years 
learning to be a hacker, getting a computer science degree and moving on 
to digital art. Do I attribute it to Gibson, of course not, but he had 
some influence. I find Gibson's tired gender stereotypes in Neuromancer 
to be much more egregious than any claim that he is influential.

 > Consequently, VR remains a niche field, and even shared interactive
 > multimedia environments are mostly used for playing games. Despite the
 > hype and corporate endorsements, Second Life is still a second-string
 > player in Internet culture, with somewhere around a quarter-million
 > regular users.[1] eBay has around 84 million.[2]

Your citation about Second Life is pretty dated. As of today there have 
been 14,353,798 Second Life sign ups and 1.2 million logins in the last 
60 days. Massively.com has great stats for other online 3d virtual 
worlds as well. Gigaom.com's stats a year ago show that WoW had 8.5 
million users and all their virtual world stats combined were over 30 
million users:


 > Body modification, on the other hand, is a robust industry with a
 > steadily-growing public profile. How many tattoo reality shows are on
 > TV these days? While crazy elective plastic surgery may still be a
 > small counterculture, I think its chances look at least as good as
 > those of wacky VR cyberspace.


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