This passage from Giorgio Agamben continues to haunt me. If someone wishes to explain it to me or attempt, er, to sell me on it, do please feel free, as they say. Agamben's point of departure is Walter Benjamin's 'aura'. They both -- Benjamin and Agamben -- ontologize in ways that are discrete and beautiful, but ultimately make me quite uncomfortable. rather quite, really.
"Today, in the age of the complete domination of the commodity form over all aspects of social life, what remains of the subdued, senseless promise of happiness that we received in the darkness of moview theaters from dancers sheathed in Dim stockings? Never has the human body -- above all the female body -- been so massively manipulated as today and, so to speak, imagined from top to bottom by the techniques of advertising and commodity production: The opacity of sexual differences has been belied by the transsexual body; the incommunicable foreignness of the singular physis has been abolished in its mediatization as spectacle; the mortality of the organic body has been put in question by its traffic with the body organs of commodities; the intimacy of erotic life has been refuted by pornography. And yet the process of technologization, instead of materially investing the body, was aimed at the construction of a separate sphere that had practically no point of contact with it: What was technologized was not the body, but its image. Thus the glorious body of advertising has become the mask behind which the fragile, slight human body continues its precarious existence, and the geometrical splendor of the "girls" covers over the lines of the naked, anonymous bodies led to their death in the Lagers (camps), or the thousands of corpses mangled in the daily slaughter on the highways.
To appropriate the historic transformations of human nature that capitalism wants to limit to the spectacle, to link together image and body in a space where they can no longer be separated, and thus to forge the whatever body, whose physis is resemblance -- this is the good that humanity must learn how to wrest from commodities in their decline. Advertising and pornography, which escorts the commodity to the grave like hired mourners, are the unknowing midwives of this new body of humanity."
-Agamben, _The Coming Community_, 49-50
I promise this posting of long passages will not become a habit.