Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SciFi and the Body

So I’m about to start reading something that intersects with something I just read. Riding in the back of a friends car, I saw a book by Orson Scott Card, and asked about it. He said it was better than Ender’s Game (which is hard to believe), so I borrowed it, The Worthington Saga. The premise is that a drug called Somec drastically increased people’s life span, but only for those who can afford it, creating two societies: the who live long and those who live short.

Now sometimes it is reality that imitates fiction, but a book was just released and reviewed over at New Left Review. In it the author, Herve Jurin, describes the new movement toward the ‘body’ in capitalism. This is not the old biopolitical refine that our bodies are the symbolic territory fought over by different ideologies (a la Foucault and many feminists theorist…who of course are on to something there). Jurin is not talking about what the ‘body’ means in different contexts (manufacturing meaning of ‘body’), but the actual manufacturing and disposal of bodies through alternative birth strategies and end of life options.

“In between entry [birth] and exit [death], meanwhile, the body-shops of maintenance, repair, transformation and perfection are proliferating, as expenditures on dietetics, health care, cosmetic surgery, embellishment soar…announc[ing] a time when the human body has started to pre-empt all other measures of value in the West, separating the experience of contemporary generations from that of all predecessors, and the rest of the world."

This is the human body turned into property to enhance value, and ultimately to extend life, separating the need for regeneration (or procreation as the old term goes). Jurin argues that capitalist industry will in fact move dramatically toward the maintenance of the human body as its priniciple industry, away from information technologies.

Pretty scary thoughts. Anyway, check out the review, and I’ll start in on the Worthington Saga and see what it is all about.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try to revive Science Fiction Fridays.

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