Objet Petit (a)vatar: Psychoanalysis, Posthumanism and the Question of the Self in Second Life

OBJET PETIT (a)VATAR

[Click HERE for a PDF of my M.A. Thesis: Objet Petit (a)vatar: Psychoanalysis, Posthumanism and the Question of the Self in Second Life (November, 2009) [TIP: Right Click and Press ‘Save As’]

 

 

 

 

Abstract
In the virtual world of Second Life users create, manipulate and interact through
graphical avatar bodies. The novelty of designing, manipulating, buying and selling
body parts or prostheses for avatars has yielded the notion that virtual worlds, and
virtual embodiment, represent harbingers of a posthuman condition where both the
body and the world are rendered entirely malleable and no longer subject to the
‘all-too-human’  psychical structures articulated by psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and
Jacques Lacan. Using Freudian and Lacanian concepts and recent scholarly work
conducted on the virtual world, this thesis finds that the so-called posthuman body is
a misnomer: avatarization is not (for better or worse) the overcoming of any human
condition, but rather an interactive technique that works with the unconscious drives
that persist in comprising our complex humanity. The thesis presents a
characterization of SL ‘skins’, customizable bodies, and attachable/detachable limbs
as uncanny reminders of a time of infantile fragmentation and imaginary
(mis)identification. It then considers the relationship between the Lacanian subject
and virtual prim bodies and objects, activities involving the Second Life economy,
and relationships such as online marriages in order to demonstrate that our real,
human, lack persists in a virtual, so-called posthuman, world.

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Also, if you’re interested, click here for a .PDF of my B.A. Honours thesis: Self Identity in the Age of Avatarization (2007). This one’s pretty old, but you might find something interesting here.

 

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~ by dccohen on December 4, 2009.

5 Responses to “Objet Petit (a)vatar: Psychoanalysis, Posthumanism and the Question of the Self in Second Life”

  1. […] In the virtual world of Second Life users create, manipulate and interact through graphical avatar b… […]

  2. […] In your more recent works (Humanizing the Avatar comes directly to mind), and in our previous conversation, you note a shift in the trajectory of […]

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