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Re: [xmca] The Sense in Which the Sensory Is Not Artefactual
Some fascinating points, David, but a little dense in terms of
figuring out your presuppositions here.
Clearly there is always a degree of mediation, by the body, taken as
both material and symbolic/ideal. Not sure what you mean by non-
developmental? Do you mean without social partnership in the process?
or not readily inter-subjective? It seems to me that there is direct
or indirect distribution of the process across more than one
individual, even if the mediation is artifactual or in terms of
cultural practices and cultural ways of framing the meaning of the
events. No? And as to inter-subjective, that would be something
learned, or not learned, in one culture or another with regard to one
kind of such event/process or another. I think.
I'm not such inclined to follow the Frankfurt School in distinguishing
the subtle higher emotions of art from the base, universal-animal
emotions of mass culture. These seem to me more matters of degree and
choice than inherent quality or necessity. I can derive very subtle
satisfactions from pop culture media (cf. Henry Jenkins as a
conniosseur of pop! an "aca-fan", academic critic and also just a fan,
hybridized), and I can point out the crass appeal in even very high
art (and enjoy that, too). Our cultural traditions are too suspicious
of the demos, and of pleasure as such. Jouissance (ala Barthes) is as
much the pleasure of every text as is sublimity (ala Longinus).
Perhaps this is not quite what you meant, but I was left wondering.
And I really did not understand the transition from saying the even
body-artifacts are linked to our biological patrimony from evolution,
which I entirely agree with and think is an important point to make,
to seeming to radically separate the body-as-heritable from encodings
in artifacts. The first point seems to emphasize the unity and
integration of the biological-body and the artifactual, and the second
to deny it? The only thing that is purely heritable is DNA itself,
which is a tiny fraction of "the body", and rest is profoundly also
the product of "artifacts" in the broad sense of culturally shaped and
interpreted environments. Which now include virtual reality
experiences, for example.
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
On Dec 1, 2009, at 6:16 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
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
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
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
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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