Volker Demuth

FLESH. Why we depend on it and why we decay away from it

Extracts from: SWR2 Essay, broadcast on 24th June 2013, 10:03 pm

“Humans are greedy for flesh. They want to swallow it and make it part of their bodies, they want to envelop it in their own flesh or penetrate into it. They want to see it, in Body Worlds, wars and splatter movies. Whether it’s in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ or the visual politics of terrorism that fill news broadcasts with pools of blood and body parts, flesh is gaping everywhere. In one place as a painful wound and body that has been torn open. In another as a bodily orifice full of desire and ecstasy. People are urged to pursue it. The prospect of flesh heats up their fantasies and fills their nightmares with bizarre events. The so-called use of pornography through the internet alone – if the network operators are to be believed – reaches thirty per cent of private users. Glistening flesh, wet with blood, moist with desire, is led back to its material state. Flesh is a very special substance. Apart from the fact that it provides the basis for our bodies’ strength and mobility on account of its complex biological cell structure and function as muscle fabric, it also serves as our external energy source.”1

“What is a bodybuilder other than a person who does not regard his body as a heavenly readymade, but as an earthly personal artwork, a work in progress that he is constantly developing?”2

“We have stepped out of the medieval world of wood and have left the industrial era of iron behind us now to enter the age of flesh. Flesh is that very special substance that can be controlled through medicine, the media, religion, art, pornography or the military. It forms the interface for almost all elements of society. Flesh, this material suited to war, is always the first target when wars break out.”3

“The energy of the old difference, stuck in the flesh like a thorn, has ebbed away. Living and lifeless flesh are now entirely identical. Divested of any accumulated symbolism, it recklessly offers itself to the forms of its sale and exploitation. The secret that was wrapped around it for centuries like a coat has dissolved. Beyond its profane exploitation flesh is unable to occupy any sublime dimension, any eternal future. The date for its resurrection has been cancelled. Unless its redemption from decay can take place on an electronic-neuronal dimension, as an implant of our conscious being in intelligent computer systems. Technoid fictions have most clearly surpassed the status of religious ones.”4

[1] Volker Demuth: FLESH. Why we depend on it and why we decay away from it, in: SWR2 Essay, broadcast on 24th June 2013, 10:03 pm (online: https://www.swr.de/swr2/programm/sendungen/essay/swr2-essay-fleisch/-/id=659852/did=11451782nid=659852/kmwja4/index.html), 2.
[2] Ib., 15f.
[3] Ib.
[4] Ib., 23.