Search results for "body "

Media & The Body

Author: joe

Thursday, 16 December, 2010 - 22:36

This week I finished teaching a new unit - Media & The Body. As is often the case when I teach a new unit for the first time, there's some openness and uncertainty about where exactly it will go. I've just written up the essay questions - taking topics which the students themselves suggested they'd like to write about and agreed in the final session, and I've firmed them up into nice academic-sounding words. As I did so, I noticed just how much material we managed to cover and the breadth of ideas the participants brought to each session. The questions tell the story really. Thanks to all students for making it so stimulating!

In games, websites and other online spaces, complex psychological relationships evolve between computer users and their avatars. Discuss these relationships, and the way that the body features in their development.
Contemporary commercial developments in the creation of virtual realities, video-game worlds, and other digital environments are striving to push the limits of verisimilitude and naturalism. Discuss ways in which a consideration of embodiment can inform or explain these developments.
Futurists and other commentators on advances in human sciences speak of transhumanism - the human who is a hybrid of biology and technology. What are the consequences of self-directed evolution for humans and their bodies?
Humans augment their bodies in cybernetic ways. Discuss the nature of cyborg bodies and the practical and ethical challenges they present.
A body is both something that we have, as well as who we are. In what ways are our bodies integral to our identities?
The disembodied performances of identity that online media permit open up questions of authenticity and fantasy. Discuss the issues that are called into question by identity play.
In what ways are the spaces, architectures and environments we produce and inhabit extensions of the body?
By casting humans into a universe of alternative and alien species, science fiction offers a imaginative space for us to meditate the limits and possibilities of our bodies and minds. Discuss.
Contemporary consumer electronics, alongside locative social tools, are fostering a hybrid or augmented experience of public spaces. Examine the nature and significance of these phenomena.
The human, their body, their mind and their technology are fundamentally entwined, and as humans evolve, so do the relationships between each of these aspects. What do past examples of technological, cognitive and embodied change tell us about future possibilities?
The body is a canvas on which meanings can be inscribed - from self harm, through tattoos, to body paint, make-up and adornment. Consider the body as a medium for coping and self-expression.

Categories: media, body, embodiment, learning,
Comments: 3

Kills Titus

Author: joe

Thursday, 04 November, 2010 - 23:10

- on the passion of exile.

Lastly, myself unkindly banished,
The gates shut on me, and turn'd weeping out,
To beg relief among Rome's enemies;
Who drown'd their enmity in my true tears,
And op'd their arms to embrace me as a friend.
I am the turned-forth, be it known to you,
That have preserv'd her welfare in my blood
And from her bosom took the enemy's point,
Sheathing the steel in my advent'rous body.
Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

Titus Andronicus is a bloody story: Saturninus' sons rape and mutilate Lavinia, Titus' daughter - she haunts the play with a mute horror. In turn the felons are murdered and served up to their parents, baked in a pie. Even as the grisly knowledge that they have consumed their own children penetrates them, Titus, who has just stabbed his daughter Lavinia in the heart in order to dispel the shame brought on them by the rape, then kills Tamora, the wife of Saturninus, who in turn kills Titus, whereupon Lucius kills Saturninus, the final act of regicide. This is not to mention the hand-loppings, the son-killings, the bone-grindings, the child-dealings - even the black and bloody fly-swattings.

Perhaps in this wild and thirsty Rome, Lucius' exile among the Goths was a welcome relief. The banished self is turned out and weeps, divided from its place of belonging; he fears the wrath of the hostile outside; and yet the enemy that is the world does not single out a vulnerable soul with malice or hatred; nor is the lonely wanderer met with a cold hand of indifference; rather the face of the stranger softens with mutual tears, the antagonist's arms open in an embrace, friendship is proffered. The former home is now seditious, the agent of displacement, expulsion, estrangement; and yet the outcast carries his origins' welfare in his blood, his hearth in his heart. The fugitive wins over the exterior wilderness for the territory of his motherland - with empathy rather than might. The threat of the foreign, against the quick of the familiar, is tranformed by the refugee's bond with his new host. The separation from the homestead is not a disastrous splitting of a weak stem from the root, but the start of a turning-forth, safeguarding the source, incorporating the weapons the world turns towards home, blunting the blade: the adventures of a body between its horizon and its source.

Categories: William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, exile, empathy, vengeance, enemy, death, body, horizon, home, origin, gap,
Comments: 0

Bogeys - or bodily betrayal

Author: joe

Thursday, 31 July, 2008 - 21:13

Featherstone and Hepworth note how a loss of bodily control can be associated with a loss of social acceptibility - they describe this as 'bodily betrayal'. On ageing, they say:

"Degrees of loss impair the capacity to be counted as a competent adult. Indeed the failure of bodily controls can point to a more general loss of self image; to be ascribed the status of a competent adult person depends upon the capacity to control urine and faeces."
[Featherstone & Hepworth, 'The mask of ageing and the postmodern lifecourse' in Featherstone, Hepworth & Turner, 1991. The Body: social processes and cultural theory, London: Sage, cited in Nettleton & Watson (eds.), 1998. 'An Introduction' in The Body in Everyday Life, London: Routledge, p1-20 (and by the way, isn't that gobful a nice exemplar of the constructedness of knowledge?)]
I wonder if their analysis extends to what Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors tend to call 'muck'? Last year as my sinusitis entered its, oh, 3rd or 4th month, my doctor asked if my mucus was discoloured. I said I wasn't sure. Is a green bogey normal or discoloured? Here's something worth meditating on: your snot.

Do you notice when your snot is clear? Before my doctor asked this question, I had never considered that snot was any colour than green. I mean, snot is normally green isn't it? Aren't bogeys green? Actually, snot is only green when you have some kind of infection (it is a sign of bacterial colonies growing in your nose. Nice). But the rest of the time (like if you have hay fever) your snot is clear. And because it is clear, you don't notice. And by 'you don't notice it' I mean 'I don't notice it'. The clear stuff that came out of my nose when I had a bit of hay fever or early stages of a cold, wasn't 'snot', or mucus. It was invisible, irrelevant. How had I managed to think of snot as only green? What did I think the clear stuff was? I don't even remember. I wasn't even in control of my body to start with.

So when my doctor asked if my 'mucus' was 'discoloured', I thought, 'What - other than green? You mean, terracotta? Puce? Fuscia? Magnolia? Purple? Shit-brown? Or just normal, everyday green?"

I think I'm going to lump this with the rest of my parents' failings, alongside neglecting to tell me about smegma and ejaculation. I don't need to tell you how freaked I was in the bath THAT day.

Categories: body, snot, mucus, betrayal, embodiment, health, self, identity, competence, urine, faeces,
Comments: 0