[-empyre-] Ontology again

dean wilson deanwilson9 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 23 04:43:35 EST 2007

The cover story for Harper's magazine in February 2002 had the title
Unravelling the DNA Myth: The Spurious Foundation of Genetic
Engineering, by Barry Commoner.  I remember one of his main points
being that big corporations started underwriting a lot of activity
based on provisional or disputed evidence. There was a fairly large
public relations effort underway to legitimize this second-tier
science, which was founded on the notion of profit but marketed under
the rubrics of advanced civilization and ethical issues like hunger
and disease prevention. The Human Genome Project turned out to be the
focus of the article at the end, and the writer's findings were
disturbing if not simply for the strange veil of secrecy that
surrounded the industry given the many unanswered questions developed
earlier in the text. It was the kind of article that almost anyone
with a college education could read and care about and come up with a
number of conspiracy theories.

As I peruse the comments in this discussion I keep sensing that there
is more at stake in terms of the congitive process. Eugene and Judith
have offered generous fuel, and I can't help going back to review some
of the tangents that weren't picked up at length: the notion of two
sides of a concept, the notion of a second level of reification, the
idea that valuation of an object generates another kind of object,
among others, resonate for some reason now when considering this
latest channel. It reminds me of Mallarme's hyperbole. Some of the
earlier posts referencing Badiou may have antipicated reflections
about the ways a generic science might or might not explain
everything. Nick's observation that aerobic respiration is not
necessarily determinded by history, and Eugene's remarks on digital
reproductions of nucelic acids orbit an alternative history of

There's something in the conversation that goes deeper, though, or
wants to go deeper than interpetations of form, lexicologies,
metaphors, or mapping representational trends. For me it calls out for
odd correspondences, reflexivity, or maybe a kind of absolute
derritorialization. Aren't the words and ideas, and the people who use
them in this discussion (along with the apparatus) determined, if it
exists, by genetic code?

For as long as I can remember, the subject has affected the object,
and the subject has been a construct, often of the object. There might
be some sexual tensions that mercifully escape rational analysis, but
criticism has its own currency. How might a cognition of cognitive
awarenes be gradiated from that disintegrating cartesian dyad in order
to generate a homology, a realism? Perhaps mathematical
representations, physical equations and a number of psychoanalytic
practices have succeeded, to an exent, in what Judith might call
scalar modalities, like contrasting hypothetical sets, tendencies,
probablilities. But are there really no other practices than those in
the taxonomy above? Is reflexivity just institutional narcissism? Or
an inevitable part of a Vichian cycle, a kind of decadence?

I guess my point is that this discussion takes place with the
consciousness of its exclusivity. Absolute deterritorialization is
possible when the environment permits, and it may even be coded, but
the world is not really a laboratory or a book. The complex analysis
of environments can't account for the extreme density of arbirtrary
factors synthesizing life, and even if it comes close it's still a
reduction, framed for a human purpose. If a being needs calories, the
chemical equation for a melon will not sustain life without going to
the trouble of rounding up some elements and using them; and even if I
know how to represent a melon in physical and chemical symbols, or a
picture, it would take a lot of labor for me to make one, even moreso
if I had no idea what the symbols meant to begin with. The homology
has a purpose and it responds to a desire, or a code that tells it to

Isn't DNA just a name for an exotic thing in a faraway land? Isn't the
rest of the world responding, as Fanon would say, in a "reciprocal
homogeneity" to the concentration of capital, symbolic or otherwise?


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