[-empyre-] a book, dna and code

Judith Roof roof12 at comcast.net
Mon Oct 22 08:15:14 EST 2007

Much as one would like not to reify the thing we are critiquing the  
reification of, writing about how people wrote about it produces a  
kind of second level reification.   But this is, I think, an effect  
not the result of representation, but of the scalar structures within  
which ideas are presented.  Otherwise the critique could not be made  
at all--or for only a very few.  To talk about broad sweeping ideas,  
the scale is fairly broad.  certainly, philosophers of science might  
argue with whatever notion of science I present or Keller presents or  
whatever, but our job is to map representational trends and their  
operation, not argue for a particular philosophy or notion of science  
(among the many possible).  These critiques should be made, I think,  
because modes of representation do operate and they need to be  
explored and who but a humanist is equipped to do this? In other  
words, the subject is the representation--We are speaking different  
languages with different valences.

On Oct 20, 2007, at 11:49 AM, Jasper Bernes wrote:

> Nick,
> If you haven't already you should check out Richard Lewontin's
> writing on genetics, and his claim that the emphasis on the genome as
> a kind  of prime mover of reproduction
> itself reproduces an ideological tendency to  privilege  
> intellectual labor
> over physical labor. A characterization that,  despite having been
> significantly challenged, still gets trotted out all the  time. Or  
> Evelyn Fox
> Keller's writing. Or Lily Kay's. Or Judith's book. All  evidence a
> fundamental process of reification in which something that is   
> mutable, fluid
> and poorly understood gets hypostasized and all of the powers  it  
> has in
> context get transferred to it in isolation--a formaldehyde heart   
> substituted
> for a real one. The ownability of the gene is really not much a   
> part of my
> claim here, although it's a corollary to it. Watson's remarks are   
> a perfect
> example. Just as the commodity fetish turns a relation between   
> people into a
> relation between objects, so too does Watson's spurious racial   
> science turn
> something that is culturally and historically  conditioned--race,
> blackness--into an object, a gene. And there is an  inexorable will  
> to make
> science say this, regardless of how complex the  story it tells us  
> remains.
> But I'm just assenting to what seems like people  here--and in  
> science and
> the history/philosophy of science broadly--have  already been  
> saying. . .
> Obviously, there's good and responsible science and  that's  
> something else.
> But the above over-reaching seems to be a  occupational hazard  
> there, as it
> is for intellectuals in general.
> In  that, it's precisely the fact that life's reproducibility has  
> not been
> discovered, unless you think that genes = life. A claim that, as  
> far as I
> understand it,  not many people would agree with these  days.
> Jasper
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nicholas Ruiz  III" <editor at intertheory.org>
> To:  "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Sent:  Friday, October 19, 2007 4:58 PM
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] a book, dna and  code
> Genetic research is remarkable, hence the
> sustainability of  discussion revolving around a
> concept such as DNA poetics...but I remain  unconvinced
> that it is a commodity 'fetish' of some sort, a modern
> labor  by-product or effect of some kind, a Marxist
> problematic...how so?
> A  discovery has been made regarding life's
> reproducibility.  The fact that  parties seek to
> capitalize upon (make useful) such a discovery for  the
> purpose of life's 'extension', medical treatment,
> agricultural  technology and so on, only continues the
> human conditional trend of the  ancients: religion,
> astrology, alchemy, animism, shamanism,  sacrifice,
> etc...old tools of the same trade, no?
> The patenting of the  Code, its privatization, seems to
> cross a species sovereignty of some  kind,
> bioethically...but if one is unwilling to give the
> Code its liberal  universal due, how can one argue for
> a sovereignty of the  Code?
> Nick
> --- Jasper Bernes <bernes at berkeley.edu> wrote:
>>  Steve, Judith et al,
>> As I see it, the very isolation of "genes"  and
>> "genomes," and the tendencies
>> to fetishize these as  miraculous actors, so well
>> demonstrated by Judith's
>> book, is  consonant with the logic of the commodity
>> that undergirds
>>  capitalism. I think that, for instance, people like
>> Lukacs are  pretty
>> convincing about the ways in which some of the basic
>>  philosophical positions
>> of scientists are, actually, class
>>  positions--bourgeois, reified, passive,
>> brimming with antinomies. That's  not to say that
>> science isn't productive of
>> knowledge or  technics, or can't work against
>> capitalism (which capitalism
>>  itself always does). It's only that science
>> presupposes and depends upon  an
>> enormous division of labor, one that often gets
>> projected  onto its material.
>> I'd like to hear more about this  ontological
>> equivalence between genes. I
>> don't at all understand  it.  But I'd like to!
>> There's a rather frightening
>> version of  genetically-engineered ontological
>> equality at the end of
>>  Houllebecq's The Elementary Particles. It would be
>> interesting  to
>> distinguish the neo-fascist brand from the communist
>> one. Do  you know the
>> book?
>>  Jasper
> Dr. Nicholas Ruiz  III
> Editor, Kritikos
> http://intertheory.org
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