I just came across the following passage in this paper by Anna Mary Cooper and Jenna Condie:
Bakhtin’s (1984a) literary analysis of Dostoevsky’s novel ‘Poor Folk’ shows how the character Devushkin, who in recognising himself in another story, did not wish to be represented as ‘something totally quantified, measured, and defined to the last detail: all of you is here, there is nothing more in you, and nothing more to be said about you’ (p. 58).
This is exactly what I’m trying to get at with the notion of eviscerating the human: analysing human beings in ways which empty out their thoughts, feelings, dreams and aspirations in order to leave only the transparently measurable aspects that lie beneath their recalcitrant minds. What Mark Andrejevic describes in InfoGlut as corporeal literacy: “the attempt to bypass the vagaries of speech in order to get directly at the true underlying emotions that speakers all too often attempt to mask” (pg. 81). This involves constructing what I’ve come to think of as evisceration devices: tools and techniques, in reality dependent upon conceptual proxies, enabling what is ‘inner’ to either be dispensed with or reduced to a corporeal manifestation of it.
If we can identify this as an intellectual project which wins the commitment of many powerful individuals and groups, we can begin to ask sociological questions about their interests and investments in it. The slightly grandiose and perhaps vague terminology of ‘eviscerating the human’ serves a methodological purpose because this is a project that cuts across multiple social domains and does not involve an overlapping awareness of being involved in a shared project. It is attempt to conceptualise the shared characteristics of something that can be seen across a multiplicity of activities, rather than a single endeavour undertaken by a collective with a shared commitment.