Nina Power: Selling Our Bodies Ourselves

“This lecture addressed how contemporary work relates to both art and feminism, with a particular focus on contemporary modes of employment and consumerism. The body, as discussed by Herve Juvin in his recent book The Coming of the Body will be the starting point for an exploration of what it means when the body comes to stand in for the end of history, and how work and the body relate to one another in the present.”

3 responses to “Nina Power: Selling Our Bodies Ourselves

  1. I feel empathy with Nina when it comes to the question put forward in (what I think is) an Irish voice. But I think a more basic point about immaterial labour and the body is to simply point out that affective, cognitive, and communicative labour all require particularly capturations and deployments of neurophysiological and musculo-skeletal bodily systems. The demand to present all bodily dispositions and so on is actually asking for a recapitulation of the entire evolutionary history of organic matter. That leads to another question though- if we’re only looking at organic bodies then what other forms of animate matter are involved in contemporary work?

    • yes very good, I’ll repost on the site some related Stiegler (thanks to agentswarm who really turned me on to his work) who I think is a leading light in this area tho my take is that our abilities to interface (ask Obama and his healthcare team about networking capacities!) has been generally overestimated.

      • Yes, but overestimated by who? Theorists might overdo it- as if there was some completely totalitarian coupling of organism-machine (totalitarianisms of this kind are almost always fantasies)- but from the other end there’s also the same overestimation by capital. The connectivism of contemporary value-extraction from labour, its new forms of physiological exploitation, massively overestimate the resilience of bodies and plasticities of neural pathways.

        Laing made a similar point in relation to role: that roles carry over into one another, overlapping, so that the worker remains the worker when she gets home, and remains the partner/mother/whatever when she gets to work. Laing said these are full fragments that don’t sit well with each other, that produce extreme subjective dicomfort because they’re experienced as a kind of antinomic circuitry of subjective experience.

        Today, we can talk about this same thing happening from the perspective of physiology. Very different physio-metabolic demands are made on our bodies nowadays- its not just physical labour for 8 hours then go home and rest. There is this constant activation. In part this includes Levi’s “thermo-politics”, but its also to do with neurotransmission overactivity and chaos, contradictory comportments, differential patterns of bodily engagement…all with no clear deactivation markers.

        All of which is exacerbated by work shortages and cuts to welfare that lead to malnutrition, chronic stress,sleep disturbances and so on.

        Keen to see this Stiegler stuff. It seems I’m going to need to make time to read Steigler and Stengers soon. Also need to get round to making a real go of D&G… but I’m going to fold that into my antipsych reading.

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