Academic journal article Chicago Review

Rapacity Culture and the Body

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Rapacity Culture and the Body

Article excerpt

Western institutional imaginaries, including arts, have endured a business retooling that has normalized rapacity. In rapacity culture, power (prizes, money, centrality, prestige) looks around to trump competition and build capital, and the body is violently available as product and object. The acceptability of power-seeking in rapacity culture renders more acceptable, more ordinary, the power violation of rape.

I imagine being part of a "we" that wants to change rapacity culture in order to change rape culture, to undo rapism as many cultures have sought to undo racism. In dismantling the rapacity gaze, body rights disperses its focus into communities--regional groups with shared devotions--and their encounters. In these encounters, each person has rights to integrity and self-identity; bodies should be permitted to differ with safety and without suffering violation.

Resist imagining that there is any center of any world. A person seeking an imagined center called "most hip" or "the community" is a vulnerable body pursuing ideological chimeras. Arts have neither Vatican nor Mecca. Distributed cognition is, by definition, not univocal, and the digitas now has no central servers.

Rapacity culture controls the body by rendering its symbols abstract, separating ideas about holdings, values, and violence from what happens with real bodies. Put an idea into the bloodstream of distributed cognition and it will evanesce into diffractions that feel abstract. Put bodies there and we can focus on our acts.

The body is the perfect symbol because it is not abstract. All its ideas and actualities are immediately present and connectable.

I imagine being part of a "we" that's not so much "post-human" as transhuman: we are language animals in the wet heat of thinking electric blood, living in linked conditions. Let's imagine we can improve: refusing narratives of progress in rapacity history should not keep us from improving our relations with each other. "To know" does not have to mean "to possess," and "progress" does not have to name a power delusion.

The end of privacy includes the possibility of envisioning the self as a set of shared identities and dreams; this vision can free raped persons from feeling alone. …

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