My body, my traitor: essay in 10tal

Last year Swedish magazine 10TAL published an essay of mine about data mining, the body, and self-knowledge (see here). Now, the English translation has been published too! Read the opening below or click through to the whole text: My body, my traitor

We’ve come a long way, baby. From »On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog«, to »On the internet everybody knows I’m a top dog«, to »On the internet we’re all Pavlov’s dogs«. Or: from the homepage, to the social media identity, to the algorithmic profile. From the nerd, to the networked self, to the passive data goldmine (via the influencer).

This evolution can be read as a story of increasing corporality, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Usually, the story is told as if the world and its inhabitants are on their way to shedding all bodily weight, with the end-point on the horizon being a purely computerized humankind, all Mind and no Matter. But the inextricable entanglement of »online« and »offline«, »virtual« and »real«, primarily means that technology is all the time effecting the body (and thus, via the body, the soul). Like Pavlov’s dog, the post-digital condition is no »cloud« in which everything evaporates (and, as we know, what is called the cloud is a very material infrastructure that is using up as much energy as a small country, relying on cables that land on contested shores, demanding ever more precious metals to be mined from unstable regions). Rather, our bodies and the data that can be mined from them, function as the pathways to understanding, predicting and thus controlling or manipulating the world, which in the same gesture means understanding, predicting and thus controlling or manipulating the body, the very body that was mined in the first place.

In a catch-22 situation, you’re always made an accomplice to your own submission.

Continue reading over at 10TAL: My body, my traitor

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