Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Subject to Change Liveblog 13



Justin Butler (U Minnesota, Twin Cities)


“Biopolitics and Biopoetics: Materialism and Object-Oriented Ontology” 



I try to steer this more towards the political
I want to step towards biopoetics especially as an alternative to ecopoetics
by trying to attune some poetic thought to genetic processes
Raymond Williams: affirmation of materialism’s categories based on what it discovers in the world
the newness built in to this is then legitimized or discarded
new knowledge leaves the old fixed in the past: structured in obsolescence
vulnerable to the paradox that it eschews fixity only to congeal categories, definitions, order
it ceases to be materialism by doing what it says materialism ought to do
obfuscation of self-renewal << biopolitics (regimes of categorization)
Foucault: managing territory >> managing people through biometrics
biopolitics is about making live
administration of biological life
>> reducing the objects to something less than they are
A foundation of OOO is its regard as an inexhaustible entity
thus an object can’t be totalized that has an instability, a type of infinity, which suggests the possibility of its own non-identity with itself
materialism sees objects as things that are not worth pursuing further
OOO: gaps between concept and thing and between concept and itself
thus after Adorno a thing becomes its concept which it is not! 
is this <> life?
genetics
inhering nonidentity of self
DNA << nonlife (phosphates, sugar, nitrogen)
DNA is both itself and representation of itself
DNA is both life and lifeless
it is itself and concept of itself, which it is not

>> politics
if lifeforms are representations of themselves, what are they representing
>> questions of democracy
if representing is not re-presenting but presenting another? 

Merleau-Ponty, notes on Nature: operative nonbeing that defines life, interrogative and positioned towards the future
is this purposive or not?
a gene would seem to require intentionality

or are representations more like the presentations of another?
if so then the gap is a question of poetics as of genetics

Jacques Monod: teleonomic structures emerge out of randomness, which undergirds structure itself
thus for Monod life is essentially unpredictable
evolution is just order with 20/20 hindsight
thus there is no intentionality at this fundamental level

Francois Jacob: most thinking tries to impose an order merely commensurate with its historical moment
while life is a bricoleur that makes do with whatever is at hand

<> problem of materialism

thought’s emergence erases its origin
life’s emergence erases its contingency

materialism’s absence of teleology

pell mell emergence should not sap the claim of orderless order (materialism)
should contest obsolescence that it produces
because it’s biopolitics that is keen on teleology

materialism can only be itself by not being itself: it is more circular or Mobius like than linear
the cause leads to the cause

>> Harman and vicarious causation! They are agreeable

tool analysis and withdrawal; real objects recede from relations
sensual objects don’t recede from relations

sensual contact is representational (”intentional” in phenomenology--don’t confuse)

I and the tree inhabit the same sensual space
two separate objects partake of a third, “representationality” 

Francis Ponge, “L’objet, c’est la poetique”
objects are outside the soul yet they are ballast in our heads
immanent and transcendent
man is a curious body whose center of gravity is not in himself
the object accuses the blow

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