The digital body and the condensed reality in a technological container

By: Nancy Bastida


The digital body can be understood as something that is not real, something that is inside a digital medium and that can only exist there, however, it is much more than that. In the following essay it will be understood how that body that occupies a space on the web, but more specifically in the mind and reality, is altered from the appearance of new spaces, as well as the relationship it has with the shamanic practices that, through it, reach other limits of consciousness, practices that due to their nature are now called: technoshamanism.

The function of the mind and the accumulation of certain information can be related to the perception of reality and the possible existences of alternate worlds. In different branches of research, questions about reality are very common. The question posed by this essay is: how are virtual spaces embedded in shamanic and technoshamanic practices? In the first, the body is involved in a spiritual and tangible way, while in the second, it is embedded through the use of technology. To fully understand the objectives and conceptualization of these practices it is important to define the function of the central character within these rituals: the shaman. The work of the shaman is to enter altered states of consciousness through numerous techniques, the most common involving the use of hallucinogenic substances, dance, drums or vocal techniques as songs to enter a hidden world. The shaman is the spiritual guide that opens the doors to these spaces and, with this, is able to expand the mind of those around him through a detachment of the physical body. It is interesting to note that these rituals adopt a terminology that, when transferred to the plane of the virtual, it is possible to understand from the use of the internet.

The digital body is able to enter spaces to which the physical body can't. In the case of technoshamanism, the use of digital devices becomes crucial to reach a state of non-ordinary reality in which everything stored in the mind and / or memory becomes zeros and ones. With the arrival of digital technologies, the limits of the cultural map that governs the concept of reality have been relaxed in favor of the expansion of consciousness, the mind, and, therefore, the spirit. This goes beyond the alienating manifestations that the use of these new technologies has also implied. It is evident that new forms of consciousness are increasingly important in today's society, which is also increasingly dependent on the magic of technology.

Our memory is changing, the way we remember nowadays is in conjunction with the electronic devices we use and the internet. People do not accumulate knowledge as before: telephone numbers, recipes, music, among other data, now lives in the memory of our digital body.

The memory of the human body is replaced by a memory that can expand itself, memories can accumulate and be stored infinitely. The digital body begins to interact and to be filled with information in a new dimension of reality. In some way the mind is limited to only keep the most relevant, that which caused some alteration of the senses or simply the casual, contrary to what happens with an expandable memory where you can save whatever, whenever. It seems to me that in both cases of shamanism and technoshamanism the mind is expanded and the human being is able to leave his/her body, what surrounds him/her and what he/she does on a daily basis. In a supposedly natural world that little by little becomes artificial, the everyday is more and more similar to what Philip K. Dick mentioned in a conference in 1977 "We live in a computationally programmed reality and the only clue of it is when a variable is changed and an alteration in our reality occurs". Perhaps it is not exactly that we are computer-made, but rather I think that the programmed reality to which K. Dick refers is the relation of our mind and body and the need to face new moments in which they are in a new representation plane within the computers and the powerful entities with which the current shaman interacts.

What would happen if within this programmed reality the human mind would disappear or cease to function completely? In some way you would have to resort forever to the memories that you have in images, videos, sounds, etc. that were stored inside the apparently infinite space of the web. There is a difference between the series of images and / or events that are established between the memory of the body and the other of the computer: in the first, privacy and everything that each one thinks in secret is invisible to others, the second is a collective memory where other people can see and alter our reality, even if it is intangible. As mentioned in the following quote about digital data, the construction of memory and the behavior of the reality of each human being: "We live in a whirlwind of luminous qualities" (Kepes, 1969, p. 26), for which we create a language of vision, since the creation of mental images has constituted an environment of images that in turn have modified our way of looking and therefore our being in the world and even our social objectives.



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