chapter  2
34 Pages

Machina Carnis

This chapter begins with the attempt to create a new way of seeing the body, a new way seen as most productive for pursuing a new mode of investigation. It seeks to short-circuit the holistic, exteriorised mode of perception generated by the preconscious processing of bodies, and instead transform the body as object of sight into something interiorised, fragmented and alien, a collection of strange mechanisms. The fragmented, reductionist view of the body has an air of breaking open its occluding surface planes and dispelling the glamour of the human form so that it can be scrutinised with a dispassionate eye. Descartes had argued for a machina carnis, a machine body, but his understanding of human beings was, of course, fundamentally dualist in nature. He might have hoped to create a mechanical body, but he did not believe it was possible to create a mechanical human being because the human soul was not reducible to mechanism.