/ Michigan quarterly review: Vol. 29, No. 4
654 MICHIGAN QUARTERLY REVIEW FIG. 1 FIG. 2 materiality, we now have what I will call "cultural plastic." In place of God the watchmaker, we now have ourselves, the master sculptors of that plastic. This disdain for material limits, and intoxication with freedom, change, and self-determination, is enacted not only on the level of the contemporary technology of the body but in a wide range of contexts, including much of contemporary discourse on the body, both casual and theoretical, popular and academic. In this essay, looking at a variety of these discursive contexts, I will attempt to describe key elements of this paradigm of plasticity, and expose some of its effacements - the material and social realities that it denies or renders invisible. 2. Plastic Bodies (Fig. 1) "Create a masterpiece, sculpt your body into a work of art," urges Fit magazine. "You visualize what you want to look like, and then you create that form." "The challenge presents itself: to rearrange things." "It's up to you to do the chiseling. You become the master sculptress."' The precision technology of body-sculpting, once the secret of the Arnold Schwarzeneggers and Rachel McLishes of the professional body-building world, has now become available to anyone who can afford the price of membership in a gym. "I now look
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