Technologies and the Body (Sunday New York Times)

A group of articles in today’s Sunday New York Times caught my eye. I grouped them in a kind of cluster. They all relate to the blending of bodies and technologies in contemporary life, a form of life that would have been unimaginable one hundred years ago at the start of the 20th century. This is the order in which I read them.


Robots (front page) One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.

Ritalin (week in review) Will was in third grade, and his school wanted him to settle down in order to focus on math worksheets and geography lessons and social studies. The children were expected to line up quietly and “transition” between classes without goofing around. This posed a challenge — hence the medication

Air conditioning (week in review) Projections of air-conditioning use are daunting. In 2007, only 11 percent of households in Brazil and 2 percent in India had air-conditioning, compared with 87 percent in the United States, which has a more temperate climate, said Michael Sivak, a research professor in energy at the University of Michigan. “There is huge latent demand,” Mr. Sivak said. “Current energy demand does not yet reflect what will happen when these countries have more money and more people can afford air-conditioning.” He has estimated that, based on its climate and the size of the population, the cooling needs of Mumbai alone could be about a quarter of those of the entire United States, which he calls “one scary statistic.”

Dance (The Naked Body) (arts) Yet everything in this work was ambiguous. The men were remarkably relaxed, dispassionate; and the slowness acquired its own cool rhythms. While Mr. Johnson and Mr. Asriel parted their legs, shifted their pelvises, rippled their spines, new contours and alignments of their musculature would emerge. The interest was heightened by their physical disparity. One had more muscular firmness and definition, the other more softness and linear flow. New connections of shapes and lines in abdomen, back, pelvis, thigh, different in each case, emerged continually.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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