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[xmca] The Sense in Which the Sensory Is Not Artefactual
If I am depressed, and I take alcohol, in what sense is this example of self-mediation? If I am obese, and I have a surgeon perform weight loss surgery, in what sense is this social, peer mediation? If I break a leg and have the bone set, or if I suffer a severe trauma to an artery or major blood vessel and apply a tourniquet, does it make sense to describe the result as an instance of internalization?
It seems to me that the answer in all these cases is that mediation does take place, but on an extremely low, non-developmental level, which is another way of saying that the results of mediation are not very susceptible to conscious and deliberate callibration and control or to sharing across the boundary of skin, much less across national boundaries and generational ones.
This kind of bodily intervention is as different from the cultural interventions that characterize higher level emotional processes (mediated by artworks, for example) as, say, perception is from conception.
It seems to me that the reason this is so is that the body is, like perception, ineluctably linked to our biological patrimony even in its most artefactual forms (e.g. breast implants, pacemakers, dental work). It is never encodable as a cultural artefact; it is only biologically heritable.
That is why the what Adorno calls "the culture industry" always seeks out for exploitation our lower level emotions: terror, sexual arousal, rage, etc. Being more or less biological, these impulses are universal. As Adorno says, the bourgeoisie would like art to be sensuous and life to be aescetic, but we would really be better off with precisely the opposite.
Seoul National University of Education
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