For those in the developed world, the natural human body has become a form of legend, a unicorn creature of soap commercials and yoga retreats, a demon of odours and dementia.

In the machinated body, nature is a vacant place, a sort of waiting time or glitch in a programme, a stop-over between virtual airports in computer games and adverts, a place to hang jewellery, a piece of kit we plug into other pieces of kit.

Machination attracts and entrances. The music of machines (techno) has a thrilling, artificial perfection, an unremitting, programmed quality not possible for flawed, limited, human musicians with their bodies that tire and fade, their timing a matter of instinct and technique, not applied technology. There is a very particular frisson to music made with synthesisers, an industrial power, with beats and riffs that are like identical components flowing along a conveyor belt, with no human operative in sight. In the eerie hymns of Kraftwerk, men-machines work out or compete in velocipede synchrony, the body is a task and a unit of production, a system of parts requiring updates or replacement, a biorobotic object radiating a cool, cybernetic impersonality. A fake, in other words.

(There are always other words.)

Major Kusanagi is employed to protect the state. An organic body won’t suffice to perform that task: she requires armour, in order to drop fifty floors from a skyscraper window, to wrestle with spider-tanks, to battle fellow cyborgs.

In Eden, there was no society: there was no clothing, no veil between humanity and the eyes of the universe, or between human eyes and the universe, no division between public and private – no division at all, but simply the perfect integration between human beings and nature.

After the Fall, human beings possessed bodies for the first time. Exile from the Garden was exile into the body, and exile into the body was also exile into the mind, and vice versa1.

Human bodies no longer suited the world in which human beings found themselves. Temperatures weren’t stable anymore, seasonality entered everything, existence became a process of adaptation to fluctuating circumstances and changing environments. Human bodies were burnt by the sun or needed to be protected against the cold. And the bodies decayed: human beings died.

Because our bodies don’t fit the world, quite, and we’re aware of it, we begin to modify our bodies – to beautify them, to strengthen them, to mark them with signs and scars, to pierce and mould them. Our bodies become sites of numinous anomaly, the subtle point of disjunction between the self and the world. One always leads to the other, but the path is never straight, there is always this little hiccup of flesh and blood, this hitch of the skull, these inevitable detours into the intense, sensation-haunted fallibilities of wounds, orgasms or dreams.

Machination is more than cosmetic dissatisfaction with the natural, organic body.

Machination is a rejection of nature, and of death, nature’s ultimate claim on the body.

Machinated bodies seek to expel nature from within them, and to attain immortal perfection – a garden with no need of gardeners, a programme in which no bugs can survive.

A totally machinated individual would achieve one dream of humanity: persistent identity – a soul. However, such a machinated individual would have jettisoned (exiled) humanity, and the human foundations of perishable body and mind. It would be all shell, and no ghost – all armour, and no knight.

Major Kusanagi’s fate is to meet with an artificial entity (“Project 2501”) which seeks the organic robustness of reproduction, dissemination, mutation and decay – an AI with a logical death-wish.

1The Fall could also be seen as the collapse from a literal condition into a figural one, exile from a sublime integration into an uneasy, fluid condition of metaphor, where one thing is another. Adam and Eve in the Garden have no need of external or referential truth, because there are no lies: their existence is veracity itself. Their lives are perfect, and there is nothing to be doubted, no competing models of truth, or at least until the serpent arrives as the agent of complexity and the vendor of competing models of correctness.

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