The General Body
by Sabrina Ovan
Summary: Studies of immaterial labor have focused their attention on the the emergence of a new class called, following the Marxist blueprint, the cognitariat. The cognitariat is mainly characterized by its impossibility to dissociate the categories work and leisure. This class is identified in the nomadic – and often exploited – displacement of brains, or in the high tech creative work. Most importantly, the emergence of this new class is strictly related to the notion of general intellect, or, as Paolo Virno calls it, the system that ‘includes the epistemic models that structure social communication’. Such relation associates the immateriality of labor with an immaterial, collective and disembodied entity.
Within the core of the argument, however, lies a question that has been posed (by Franco Berardi, for instance) but not fully investigated: what are the bodies of these new brainy underdogs made of? If displacement and nomadism are their main characteristics, how do they move in or organize the space around them? What is the impact of their everyday activity? In other words, can we give a material, or even a virtual body to the general intellect? By putting in relation different interpretations of general intellect with the critical work on the virtual (cultural) body proposed by Antonio Caronia and Franco Berardi, my paper will try to give shape to what we could ultimately call a general body.
Comparative Literature from the
Dissertation: “Designifiers: proper and improper names in French and Italian Contemporary Fiction.”
Research Interests: Collective writing, new
media art and literature (
Published work: “Q’s General Intellect.” In Cultural Studies Review, The