Bioethics Blogs

Spacecraft(ing) by Vincent Duclos

“Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun?” cries Nietzsche’s madman in a famous parable of The Gay Science. “Are we not continually falling? Aren’t we straying as though through an infinite nothing [5, 7]? Isn’t empty space breathing at us [5, 8]? Hasn’t it got colder?”

(Nietzsche 2001: 119-120) [10]

“You’re more powerful than you think,” reads the slogan at the end of the iPhone 5s “strength” TV advertisement. Plugging the iPhone’s capabilities as a fitness companion, the ad follows a group of iPhone owners as they work out and track their performance. Throughout the ad, bodies wake up, run, swim, lift weights, and climb. Through a series of exhausting encounters with the “Great Outdoors,” – adverse weather conditions, uphill climbs, untrodden paths, physical gravity – bodies get in shape [8]. The magic of the ad lies in its folding in of the “Great Outdoors” to the point of complete dissolution: via their iPhones, users successfully metabolize their encounters [3, 4]. At once a personal trainer, a dietician, and a life coach, the iPhone turns physical effort into something that can be accounted, calculated, rendered legible [2]. iPhones mediate [8]. The more efficient the mediation, the more “chicken fat” is burnt, as the song playing throughout the ad reminds us [8]. The more successfully bodies internalize their encounters with the “Great Outdoors,” the more they appear to be severed, autonomous [3, 11].

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.