The Naked Herd. Pain and Human Domestication


In contrast with the fatal fantasy of the cybernetic body, the stark organic materiality of human existence imposes itself with abrupt gravitas. The conscience of the body in the extreme experience of pain or pleasure finds an echo in the heightened perception of architecture or space when its physical substance is broken or perforated, and that same experience of injured flesh is the reason for our empathy with the sacrificed animal. We inhabit the house as we inhabit the body, and we feel the wounds of construction as our own, because they cut the geometric flesh that wraps and shelters us; but we also recognize ourselves as part of the organic universe that suffers and perishes, and so we are inevitably struck by animal pain. The demolishing ball of the builder and the killing knife of the butcher hurt us equally; upon both we project the shadow of a fragile and material body, and it is perhaps in that wild landscape of the castaway thrown into the world where the aesthetic of the sheltering space and the ethic of the sheltered life are to be found. Both the physical space and the organic environment are part of our transit luggage, and the domestic and naked body awaits at the point of intersection...[+]

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