On Mark Hansen’s Bodies in Code

Posted: December 2, 2008 in biopower, New Media
Tags: , , , , ,
Rigid Waves is an example of...?

Rigid Waves is an example of...?

Hansen writes: “Forging such a cultural image of the body is crucial if we are to forestall the instrumentalization of the body and all that follows from it, above all the foreclosure of being-with or the finitude of our form of life. Far from being a mere ‘instrument’ or the first ‘medium’ (as some versions of posthumanism allege), the body is a primordial and active source of resistance; indeed, it is as resistance–as the ‘living expression of something simultaneously organization and obstacle to its organization’–that the body forms the source of excess supporting all levels of constitution (or individuation), from the cellular to the cosmic. As source of excess, the body possesses a flexibility that belies any effort, such as that of cybercultural criticism (and behind it, of cultural constructivism), to reduce it to a passive surface for social significance. The body is, affirms Millon ‘an entity that becomes a person, a creative subject, a being or an individual according to the circumstances.'” (Bodies in Code 15)

You kinda just wanna cheer at this passage. I do in some part of me: I want to say Yes, yes, the body is resistance, resistance, resistance.

It’s precisely what I argue against in Untimely Bollywood (Duke UP, 2009). That the excess of the body should not be confused with the anthropocentric notion of resistance in cultural(ist) criticism (the excess of the body is a non-coinciding virtuality that potentializes the body, and thus is not a story about us). More, that the form of power necessary to turn the body into the privileged site of primordial resistance reminds one of Marcuse, and so of course also of Foucault’s critique of the repressive hypothesis in History of Sexuality and many other texts. What do we make then of this resistance?

There is a correlated problem: that of the example. What is the status of the example in Hansen’s work. One thinks of Derrida’s analysis of the example in the law of genre, to wit that the example always comes to fulfill the theory, that the example is always already gridded by the theory. This is of course precisely what happens in Hansen’s work: the example comes to confirm the theory that has set the stage for its arrival–the theory frames the example…

  1. MFWS says:

    … it would be nice if you also mention the artists’ names – MFWS* – not just the title of their art work: Rigid Waves (as part of Liquid Views).

    *Monika Fleischmann & Wolfgang Strauss

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