The Articulated Limb: Theorizing indigenous Pacific participation in the Military Industrial Complex
“Articulation is not a simple matter. Language is the effect of articulation and so are bodies. Articulata are jointed animals; they are not smooth like the perfect spherical animals of Plato’s origin fantasy in the Timaeus. The articulata are cobbled together. It is the condition of being articulate. I rely on the articulata to breathe life into the artifactual cosmos of monsters this essay inhabits. Nature may be speechless, without language, in the human sense; but nature is highly articulate. Discourse is only one process of articulation. An articulated world has an undecidable number of modes and sites where connections can be made. The surfaces of this kind of world are not frictionless curved planes. Unlike things can be joined—and like things can be broken apart—and vice versa. Full of sensory hairs, evaginations, invaginations, and indentations, the surfaces which interest me are dissected by joints” (Haraway, 1992: 324). In July 2015 Cosmopolitan magazine published “7 Powerful Nude Photos” to “Show That Amputee War Veterans are Confident and Mad Hot” (Cosmopolitan, 2015). The article featured the work of photographer Michael Stokes in advance of the publication of a coffee-table book he was releasing with photographs of fourteen veterans of Gulf Wars. Although Stokes credits the inspiration for the coffee-table book to a model named Alex Minsky,1 nowhere in the article are the names of the featured models listed and none of the seven photographs selected for this preview of the book are captioned—it is the photographer’s brand (“MICHAEL STOKES PHOTOGRAPHY”) that dominates each one in large bold letters. All of the models are phenotypically white, and all the photographs bar one are taken indoors, in a studio setting. Only two models are posed with obvious military props: one of them, a single amputee, carries a firearm casually held across his groin.2 Another, a triple amputee, wears a pair of khaki shorts, and leans an attenuated arm on a camouflaged helmet. A prosthetic attachment protrudes below his elbow; next to the helmet is an artificial hand, waiting to be fitted. The model wears bomber glasses that he adjusts with his intact hand.
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