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My body is a shell?

I was watching Ghost in the Shell while doing some programming. I decided I wanted to do work and watch something at the same time. Having something to glance at when I got bored with my work would help. I got the idea (although it wouldn’t be the first time I had done it) from Rands In Repose:

In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he describes how researchers for Sesame Street determined what parts and how much of the show were actually registering with five-year-old kids. What they discovered was that, when presented with toys and quality segments, these children were able to play with toys and remember content from the show just as well as kids who just watched the show.

I can’t really tell how it worked out for me because I didn’t have a deadline and the work was very casual. I’ll have to try it when I’m writing a paper and see if I get any more work done then.

As I was watching Ghost in the Shell (and apparently ignoring my work) I wondered why Motoko felt so comfortable naked. She didn’t seem to mind being seen by Batou after scuba diving nor did she seem particularly shy in general. And then I thought,”if I knew my body was just a shell, would I feel awkward about being naked? Would I really care about what happened to it or who saw it? Would I feel better about the way I looked? Or feel worse?” It was a deep moment for me.

I believe that I have a soul, so isn’t my body just a shell? Shouldn’t I already feel that way? I know that the body is sacred too (it’s in the Bible somewhere, someone else can find it) and therefore it has significance, but I was suddenly faced with w new set of moral questions about body augmentation. Having read Neuromancer I’ve wanted to be like Case. I wanted to be a console cowboy and have a ROM of my mentor that I could jack into and have conversations with. I wanted to float in cyberspace and be able to use my mind to control the computer. Now I wonder if I would really take the necessary steps to augment my body.

I don’t believe in tattoos or piercings on my body. I don’t mind if other people do it, in fact I think they’re pretty cool, they’re just not for me.  If I’m opposed to those simple body mods, would I let someone fiddle around in my brain and add some electronics? Would I abandon my body entirely for a cybernetic one? How much of me is really me? How much can I give up and still feel the same?

It turns out that those really are the themes in Ghost in the Shell. Underneath all the cyberpunk and hacking and destroying  of tanks, it’s a question about what makes us human. If nothing else, re-watching this movie has made it clear to me how insecure I am about my body. I should work on that.


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