<title>comments on the body</title>
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, user-scalable=no, minimum-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0">
<link href="images/favicon.ico" rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon"/>
“there is no cultural practice that is not first applied to the body.”
Silvia Federici writes about the body as a performative platform and as a “receptacle of powers, capacities and resistances” against capitalist restrictions of mechanisation and self-alienation. She believes that the body can, in many ways, mark histories of oppression, colonisation, enslavement and exploitation, but at the same time can re-root our consciousness back to our needs and desires, that have been constructed by our environmental and coevolutionary pasts, through ways of cultural and anti-hierarchical practices that are able to exist outside of capitalism such as dancing and finding “inner rhythms”.
This is interesting since the concept of the “body” is used in text-based information expressions such as “body text” or “body matter”, later appropriated by HTML web design, where practically all documentation that will be displayed on a page is located in the <body> tag. It is an element containing all contents of a the document, such as text, hyperlinks, images, lists, etc, and is separated from the <head> tag which includes more concealed elements such as script and styling sources or meta information. Already here, you can see the labour-determined separation of the cerebral/analytical <head> and the “[<]body[>] without reason” - a “dumb animal, a monster resistant to command”.
“In our time, models for the body are the computer and the genetic code, crafting a dematerialised, dis-aggregated body, imagined as a conglomerate of cells and genes each with her own program, indifferent to the rest and to the good of the body as a whole.” She talks about dematerialisation as a late capitalist abduction of the body because it is mechanised, but does disembodiment, as the severance of the <body> and <head>, have to be capitalist? Surely there is also a difference between mechanisation and digitalisation? “Mobility is a threat when not pursued for work-sake as it circulates knowledges, experiences, struggles” - and isn’t the computerisation of the body attached to notions of mobility and accessibility?
I wonder if the conceptual appropriation of the body is a freeing and anti-naturalist phenomenon, or if it is only used for technologies because of the convenient capitalisation of industrialising the body. I am confused, and left with classic gendered questions about myself; as a woman, but also as a white, middle-class & cis-ish woman, do I even want to listen to it?
What I am sure I do want, is to see that the moral of her text is to re-code rather than hack, to listen to bodies rather than attack bodies, but in the end I am bewildered, and I can’t find out why; whether it’s the argument’s nature-essentialist undertones that put pressures on differently abled or child-rearing bodies, or whether I’m bewildered precisely because of my misunderstanding of my body due to modernism’s self-alienating effects.
— notes on “In Praise of the Dancing Body” by Silvia Federici