Capitalism, Marketing, and the Insidious and Covert Co-optation of the Self

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Capitalism, Marketing, and the Insidious and Covert Co-optation of the Self Subtitle: A Manifesto for Avatars 1. Introducing Avatars AVATARA-Sanskrit.; ava-'down', tarati-'he goes, passes beyond' literally, 'a descent', a conception described in the Bhagavad gita, 4th Teaching, 1-8 where Krishna confides: "when goodness grows weak, when evil increases, I make myself a body." (OED) Originally referring to the incarnation of Hindu deities, avatars in the computing realms have come to mean any of the various "strap-on" visual agents that represent the user in increasing numbers of 2 and 3D worlds. (Lonehead, ONLINE SOURCE, NO PAGE NUM) This essay studies the covert, market driven forces at work in our choices of images for the avatars inhabiting cyberspace, in order to understand the dangers of the exchange of self-images for advertisements. To forge a set of alternative resistant and forceful conditions for imaging what Sherry Turkle has termed "the second self," tactics based in imaging, language, and psychology can be opposed to the insidious and covert co-optation of the self by commodities. This essay is an attempt to examine the construction of alternative figures as models of resistance. The Manifesto for Avatars offers a formal set of oppositional strategies for constructing unconsumable self-images. The apparent freedom of identity and gender enjoyed by the participants in multi-user domains and the Internet in general (Langley, Stone) is a dangerous illusion, masking the corporate agendas dominating the nature and spirit of the construction of cyberspace and avatars. Imagine an internet chat room where we are all represented by the commodity of our choice. Much like the large, recognizable logos th... ... middle of paper ... ...hler, L. Cartwright, and C. Penley. New York: New York University Press, 1998, 312-314 Stephenson, Neal. SnowCrash, New York, Bantam Books, 1992. Stone, Allucquere Rosanne."Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?: Boundary Stories About Virtual Cultures." In Cyberspace: First Steps, ed. Benedikt, 82-85. Talking Heads. "Once in a Lifetime." Perf. David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth. Remain in Light. Sire Records, 1980. Thacker, Eugene. ".../visible_human.html/digital anatomy and the hyper-texted body", CTHEORY, 2 June, 1998. Online, n pag. Oct. 1998. Turkle, Sherry. The Second Self-Computers and the Human Spirit. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. Ziff-Davis TV, Inc. "If You Build It, They Will Come." thesite: The Avatars 97 Conference. Aug. 1997 Online, n pag. ZdNet Sept. 1998 .

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