Unreal Nature

July 15, 2017

Gasoline and Cat Food

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… Technoimaginary codes program us for sexual gestures which we often confuse with gestures of loving.

This is from the chapter on ‘Loving’ in Gestures by Vilém Flusser (2014):

A phenomenology of the gesture of loving must negotiate two dangers, sensationalism and prudery. They probably cannot be avoided. In any case, they immediately immerse the inquiry in an atmosphere that is unique to this gesture. For they show that what conceals this gesture from view is not a cover woven from habit, as is the case for most other gestures, but from repression. We don’t pay attention to most gestures because we don’t pay attention to what is familiar, and so when we concentrate on them, they seem new and surprising.

[line break added] But we don’t see the gesture of loving because social pressure demands that it be private, and private is by definition invisible, and if through some counterforce it becomes public, then it appears to be a controversial gesture, obviously changing its character, which has nothing to do with exhibitionism and ostentation.

… Any observation of the gesture of loving must start from its ubiquitous depictions in our environment. We practically live among images of this gesture, which is to say that our codified world is a sex shop, which differs from specialized businesses in its use of the gesture as a means of attraction and as a tool for selling nonsexual goods. This broadband sexualization of our codes (everything, even gasoline and cat food, has sexual connotations in posters and shop windows) conforms to a dialectic that in fact has little to do with the gesture of loving but of course affects the gesture through complicated feeback pathways.

[ … ]

… one of the distinctive qualities of the gesture of loving is exactly that one can’t want it, for it involves surrender of will. One must, as the English language suggests, allow oneself to fall in love. The gesture of loving does not occur within a program but rather moves away from a program and so cannot itself be programmed. But strangely, it does not mean that the gesture is any more likely to follow from letting oneself go than it is from self-discipline.

… Technoimaginary codes program us for sexual gestures which we often confuse with gestures of loving. Because sexual inflation devalues sex, the gesture of loving, too, is devalued as a result of the confusion. And because we are steadily losing the innocence required for serenity, becoming increasingly technical, imaginative, and critical, we have difficulty achieving the basics of the gesture of loving. It is individually and socially tragic. For the gesture of loving is the way we can lose ourselves in another and so conquer our alienation.

My most recent previous post from Flusser’s book is here.

-Julie

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