[-empyre-] Forward from Ingrid: (dis)embodiment

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Thu Nov 29 02:33:21 EST 2007

Hi Grace and Tim, a lot of food for thought in
your last emails.  I think the notions of
embodiment and disembodiment play a large role in
my thoughts on this issue of memory in the

My comments regarding amnesia or Alzheimer's as
part of the technosphere reflect both a personal
and cultural loss of memory, sometimes unwilling,
sometimes conscious loss of memory  that in this
sphere is often promoted.

In relation to my comment on whether Mexico was
exempt from  a more deliberate form of
technological and cultural amnesia,  I see this
more as a cultural condition rather than a
strictly technological one, although no doubt the
two are linked.

In Canada  there is constant quest for the'new'.
As a culture, through the stories we tell, we
have rather effectively erased  an indigineous
past that and heritage that is very rich and goes
back many more centuries thtn the so called
founding of Canada a few hundred years ago.

It seems to be that in America we seem to suffer
from a collective amnesia or data loss that suits
certain political needs. I am interested in how
this gets translated into the technosphere (I
love the term, who came up with it?)
I do agree that access and technological
development play a large role, but the amnesia I
am refrerring to  has more to do with a
collective, often political,  desire to forget
what is inconvenient. Onthe other hand, the File
Room Project of Muntadas, which documents human
rights abuses internationally by the abused,
independent of any formal agency is a great
example of the potentail for alternate voices to
provide alternate memories and stories.

It is interesting that with Alzheimer's, memories
are not necessarily lost, they often can't be
accessed. In a sense they are misplaced and
inaccessible at will - free floating in the data
sphere of the brain. Though most people develop
some plaques and tangles as they age, those with
Alzheimer's tend to develop far more. The plaques
and tangles tend to form in a predictable
pattern, beginning in areas important in learning
and memory and then spread other regions. It is
these tangles and plaques that prevent that
destroy the nerve cells that allow for the proper
transmission of signals in the brain. I sometimes
thinkof  the datasphere in this way.

To speak to the notion of offloading our
memories, personal and larger, to this fugitive
data field, is an interesting predicament.  I
often wonder what future historians and
antropologists will make of the endless data they
find. Everyone it seems  is archiving their own
life. And Grace's point about producing oblivion
is well taken.

I am interested in the idea of memory and
identity as a haunting. Is it possible to be
haunted or have a haunting without a body and
without a place?  Does the lack of correspondence
in the technosphere provide a detachment or an

I will get back later to some of Grace's points from her second post.


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