critical theory

  I confess to being fascinated by critical theory and philosophy, yet sometimes confused and annoyed by its often convoluted language and jealously unable to mimic its seductive style.

My understanding of the argument given by Mark Hansen is that Walter Benjamin views mimetics as a fundamental and intrinsic part of ourselves and nature, suggesting language as being the ultimate imitator.

| language and the mimetic faculty | Walter |

From Embodying Technesis : Technology Beyond Writing
Mark Hansen : University of Michigan Press, 2000 (review)

"By answering the question concerning technology with a sensuous mimetic account of presubjective embodied agency, Benjamin opens a path that can help technocultural critics dispel their residual (and, as I have argued, largely unthematized) commitment to representationalism.

His example can help us develop more concrete, locally attuned deployments of reproductive technologies as mimetic vehicles to make our lived experience in the postmodern age more bearable, if not, in some significant sense, more empowered. In a word, Benjamin points us beyond the impasse of technesis.

By refusing to collapse the technological real into representation and by linking it to embodiment, he shows us that we can make sense of technology's diffuse, amorphous corporeal impact without filtering it through language, without linking it to changes in our discursive practices. And he urges us to focus on our own embodiment as the material site of the bearer of technology's otherwise wholly inhuman impact.

Accordingly, Benjamin's example can help us construct the analytical tools we will need to resist the seductions of disembodiment projected by contemporary reproductive and virtual technologies, and in so doing, can guide us in investigating the experiential changes that are currently revolutionizing our culture.

If we can succeed in emulating Benjamin's sober responsibility to the technological real, we will begin the crucial task of (re)claiming a distinctly human perspective in the face of material and technological forces that for so many today portend the inevitable dawn of a new, radically posthuman epoch. "