Monday, April 16, 2007

Beauvoir, Embodiment & Animality

Iggy, my fellow explorer & seasoned SL blogger sent me this interesting quote:

“Nevertheless it will be said that if the body is not a thing, it is a

situation, as viewed in the perspective I am adopting--that of
Heidegger, Sartre, and Merlau-Ponty; it is the instrument of our grasp upon this world, a limiting factor for our projects.” - Simone de Beauvoir

In our excitement about technology and the nifty technotoys we create, we often forget "the instrument of our grasp upon this world" - the human sensorium, our embodiment. Though Beauvoir seems to focus on the limitations of the body, her definition of the body as
"a situation" seems to remind us of its mediation of our experience.

Perhaps it might be more fruitful for us to maximize our familiarity and facility with the instrument of our bodies before we discard them for "better" machine replacements.

Recently i came across an essay by Aldous Huxley where he explains D. H. Lawrence's
defense of animality, or perhaps of an evolved conception of humanity:

“What Lawrence was crusading for was the admission by the conscious spirit of the right of the body and the instincts, not merely to be a begrudged existence, but to an equal honor with itself. Man is an animal that thinks. To be a first-rate human being, a man must be both a first-rate animal and a first-rate thinker. (And, incidentally, he cannot be a first-rate thinker, at any rate about human affairs, unless he is also a first-rate animal.)”

Aldous Huxley “To the Puritan All Things Are Impure”


Ignatius Onomatopoeia said...

Beebs, I think Beauvoir may well be prefiguring postmodern thought here.

You know the theory better than I do, but it appears that in her discussions of women as both subject and object (most often the latter) for men, she's considering the multiplicities involved changing our appearance in real life to suit others.

In SL it's the same thing. An avatar I know (name withheld) has a delightfully "hot" appearance, and not in a sleazy way. She told me that yes, it's wish-fulfillment and as long as one keeps that in mind, it's not harmful.

I agree; for me it's a delight to run about as an ape once in a while. Do that in real life and they'd put you away.

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