[-empyre-] Ontology again

dean wilson deanwilson9 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 25 03:12:35 EST 2007

Steve, it was glib, I admit ... and yet ...

Eugene conjured a fine and odd correspondence in citing Heidegger,
Quine and Lovecraft above, since Houellebecq is pretty much devoted to
the latter. So much has been written about Elementary Particles,
especially in Europe where it was a kind of end-of-millenium event,
that it seemed to infuse the whole thread without needing
explicitation. But I would like to thank Jasper for bringing that
brand political science fiction into the conversation. In
consideration with his first novel (English title: Whatever, French:
Extension du domaine de la lutte) several of the more resilient paths
people have taken are relevant to points brought up in Judith's and
Eugene's work, in particular, ethical/political/aesthetic questions
attached to bodies and technology:

"Those who love life do not read. Nor do they go to the movies,
actually. No matter what might be said, access to the artistic
universe is more or less entirely the preserve of those who are a
little fed up with the world."  (Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft:
Against Nature, Against Life)

Houellebecq takes a lot of flack, but the two characters in Elementary
Particles pull off a thorough-going roast of the fraternal utopias of
May 68 and genetics. It's surpising, come to think of it, that neither
the book nor the German movie (with the UK English title Atomised)
have figured more prominently in this thread, but that may have to do
with sexual politics as much as poetics per se. I would put Houllebecq
firmly in the crank category with Beaudelaire. He also has a band and
recites poetry in dramatically restrained but usually drunken,
incantatory performances. It would be a stretch, but he's somebody
that might offer a link between the Poetics of DNA and Victor Turner,
deriving more from Sartre than Olatunji's Drums of Passion.


On 10/24/07, sdv at krokodile.co.uk <sdv at krokodile.co.uk> wrote:
> Dean,
> I'll respond properly later today...
> but surely 'we' are those people you refer to below tough I don't recognize the description...
> steve
> >Steve's taxonomy:
> >
> >"To argue that 'science is not THE best way to explain everything' well
> >that's just nonsensical, what do you have left but religion, faith,
> >magic, transcendentalism, humanism none of which explains anything."
> >
> >Then above:
> >
> >"From  now on then we are controlling things which previously
> >controlled us, because we dominate the planet we become accountable
> >for it.  If you have the ability to manipulate the genetic structures,
> >gender, what is normal and pathological then you are going to have to
> >decide every thing; gender, eye color, skin color, intelligence,
> >Everything. And I mean Everything from choosing what is allowed to
> >evolve to deciding what can become real."
> >
> >I see the logic in there, since escalation is part of the pattern. But
> >these ideas seem to reduce possible events to calcuable functions and
> >systems that neglect the tantalizing prospect of people like Samuel
> >Beckett and other untidy matters like desire, tsunamis, meteor showers
> >... Besides, if the premise is true, then the need for "control" would
> >be a predetermined trait and "we" would not be able to "decide" as
> >free subjects. Those decisions would be made for us before we were
> >born. How convenient.
> >
> >A few days ago Judith brought up ideas of pleasure and the wonderful
> >word "oedipalism" while continuing, usefully, to advocate skepticism
> >toward representations of DNA. The biological sites of unconsious
> >drives may be locatable through some scientific/rhetorical slight of
> >hand in the near term, but I can think of quite a few things now,
> >perhaps naively, that are beyond the alleged control of well-paid
> >scientists, including the scientists themselves.
> >
> >Bourdieu might say that control obsessions have less to do with
> >imperialism, or Marxism, and more to do with the reproduction of
> >symbols, or a kind of denial. It's curious how equating the social
> >sciences with hard science can throw the historical process into a
> >tailspin, or ... god forbid ... disorder. One example of a meaningful
> >shift in capital perhaps might be the reasonably quantifiable measure
> >of population. Do the alienated, powerful, antisceptic, wealthy,
> >mass-mediated humans really have all the power to determine who or
> >what is to be born? Will they determine "Everything. And I mean
> >Everything" for populations that are "out of control"? I think the
> >Chakrabarty insinuates some of these questions into the ongoing
> >discussion.
> >_______________________________________________
> >empyre forum
> >empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> >http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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