I immediately found the concept of species-being to be very relevant in Transmission, particularly when Dyer-Witheford writes about how private ownership of production “alienates” us. I couldn’t help but picture Arjun hunched over his computer alone in his bedroom, or the office full of tech-geeks who are all separated by cubicles. I thought of how Arjun rarely sat in the cafeteria at lunch and missed out on the news that many people were being fired. Alienated.
I stumbled upon a quote that says “estranged human labor estranges the species from the man.” This makes perfect sense in Arjun’s case. The work he does is not communal – he works alone. It can be argued that as a result of being alone so often beside his computer, especially in his formative years, he has become extremely literal and somewhat naive. Working in “estranged labor” for so long now makes it hard for him to think in abstract terms, process emotion in a normal way, or perform many other of the complex mental functions that differentiate humans from other species. His very species-being has been estranged.
I also agreed with the brilliance of the quote “money is the bond of all bonds” and that money and technological power have a very literal bond. This brought to mind the vision of Daly City that is portrayed in the book (and that I can attest is true in real life). Their entire landscape is shaped between the literal link of money and technology. People like Arjun, who had to walk from place to place, were pariahs who didn’t quite belong. This shows how type of system we run can change our social and environmental systems as a whole. On that note, I’ll end with my thoughts on this final quote: “‘Labour’ is humanity’s paradoxical anti-essence essence, it’s natural ability to change its nature.” We understand the ways that our choices can affect the world, and we make these choices anyway. The advancement of technology may alienate people and eventually alter the very characteristics of humanity, yet we continue to pursue it. Our urban-industry society can reap heavy environmental consequences (acidity of oceans, increase of greenhouse gases, etc.) but we choose to live this way. Through Arjun’s story, we are able to see the type of synthetic world we have created, and the ways it is now the new “natural.”