// Posted by Jorien on 04/24/2013 (10:41 PM)
“This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” Tim Cannon
Who are you? Are you your body, or are you your ideas and experiences?
Nowadays, people change how they look. 21% in the country has had plastic surgery in order to fix certain body parts or their overall body. It is common for women to have breast implants, which means that they open their body up to something unnatural and synthetic. Not only through plastic surgery we enhance the human, but also for example through medical additions such as the pacemaker in order to live longer. A wounded soldier who had no upper leg muscle anymore used pig material in order to gain tissue back and can walk again. This method is also used with several athletes, who are at the point of retiring, but found a way to improve their muscles so that they can last a few years longer.
With all these methods in enhancing the body, it seems so natural for people to think about changing a certain part in order to perform better. A striking article about biohackers which was posted by my professor, made me think more about this topic. How far do people go, now that there is an increasing amount of technology and knowledge available? The article talks about grinders and biohackers: people that insert magnets or chips in parts of their body so that they have a ‘sixth sense’. Ben Popper writes about his surgery in his finger, which was done without anesthesia in a basement by a ‘grinder’: “a homebrew biohacker obsessed with the idea of human enhancement”. He got a magnet in the top of his finger that allowed him to feel different magnetic fields around him, such as a microwave, subways and power lines.
Personally, I was a little freaked out by this article. How can people cut their skin open without anesthesia in order to put a little metal piece in it? First, it must hurt, but second, an unnatural piece within your body must have some effects, will the body not reject it and get infected?
Apparently, there is a community of grinders who share their experiences on the Internet, for example via YouTube. People who have ‘underground surgeries’ in order to experience something ‘more’ when interacting with the world around them. They become a cyborg. One of these cyborgs is Neil Harbisson, he did not enhance his senses because he wanted to experience more, but because he had to. Harbisson had been colorblind since he was born, he saw only colors within the greyscale. In this video he talks about his life as a cyborg.
‘Knowledge comes from our senses, so if extend our senses we would extend our knowledge.’ This was one of the sentences that struck me. Yes, humans can make themselves different, maybe even better, but why? A majority will do it because it makes them feel better, ‘prettier’ some would say, however this is just people who use plastic surgery. The way of using technology to make it part of oneself is a whole other aspect. How Neil Harbisson described it made sense to me, we absorb different sensations that we transform into knowledge. Every touch, sniff and sight teaches us something new about the world around us. Thus, in order to get in touch with all this knowledge around us it would not be a bad idea to extend these senses. One has to start from the bottom up in order to know how the body responds on foreign materials. Therefore I think grinders and biohackers are, however crazy they might seem, on a road to explore the different ways in which we could sense everything around us.
Do you think we should all be cyborgs? Will it add to our experience of life or will it take away the ‘realness’?