Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hybrids, etc.,

The nature of no nature--one of Haraway's terms--is an important figure because it carries the point that in this realm, when this realm is constituting our being, indeed, in this extreme demand upon us that forces some social to contain transuranic-being so that life may be bearable, we have no idea what will happen. Yet the same can be said of so many things. Indeed, the same can be said of technology, civilization, economies, or any new drug. The trouble with using this category to shed light on GMO's is that so many of these are not really so bad because our bodies can handle them, in a way very much unlike being able to handle radioactivity. But don't worry; it is not impossible that we could put up with even these radical experiments in bodily manipulation. What is required is cyborg-beings; the more machine-like the merrier for machine-civilization; the more feral, the more capacity required to cope with/adapt to civilization's "privileges".

Splicing genes is often distinguished from hybridity. Hybrids are cultivated selections; certain qualities of a being are selected and repeated; but every successor is contained potentially within the actual original gene set. A hybrid accordingly is a weakened successor of a stronger ancestor. But we have to ask: Stronger in what sense? Given certain conditions, a hybrid would be stronger than a more robust example. And with Nature abutting to Culture, it seems that what is required is a certain selection of being. Other conditions provide living of a kind. Oncomouse does live, in fact, she performs brilliantly (she produces breast cancer predicatively) given the conditions much more than a more robust example would: a house mouse would fail to meet the conditions of this terrible necessary-for-humyns context.

We have to be hybrids to live in civilization; and accordingly, we are weak outside the city walls. Yet those that are wild do not have the capacity to survive in civilization without changes to their fundamental ontology; it is not that they would over-perform; it is that they do not know how to live because they are configured to a different (and more reliable, ceteris paribus) apparatus. But we are also weak in civilization; indeed, so weak that a more robust capacity is required to live. Our extended being, being-in-technology, is necessary for living; and all take on technologies of the self in domestication. We are filtered and drawn out hybrids.

The most robust beings, capable of surviving all of this, would be “wild” dogs, racoons, rats and pigeons, the scavengers that are clearly many-functional; these live at the limits and can have it both ways; because they have the capacity to survive the conditions that have been generated in the union of nature and culture, they do not get wiped out; and as patriarchal humyns continue to wipe out every last wild space, these grow strong unlike homo faber.

We say that mice and vegetables should not mix; but is this any different than saying living beings and robotic devices should never be joined? How can we talk here about natural flows of adaptability? To say that the capacity to operate heavy machinery, to work for another, is built into our wild selves strikes this reader as akin to the experimentalism that is being-GMO. Both work to varying degrees.

GMO's like Oncomouse and FLAVR SAVR are considered to be unnatural precisely because there is nothing normal about the flows of natural adaptivity present in the splicing of genes. In artificial environments these beings are structured to beat out manifestations of nature that would wipe out these “problems”. Oncomouse has been used as an instrument to find a cure for breast cancer; her mouse-breasts riven with cancerous cells. FLAVR SAVR, and other frankenfoods, are designed to fit into the artificiality of agriculture. But how different is it to say that we are being designed to fit into economies? It is not that the strong and bio-diverse survive; rather, it is that the weakest with the most capacity to adapt to the artificial container-technology that is civilization survive. Similarly, only those beings with the capacity to survive alongside civilization can adapt; and there is no reason to suppose that those native species and biodiverse objects that are forced to flourish in nature preserves have the most capacity to survive near cyborg-civilization.

I would think that it is precisely those that are the most used to civilization, the rats, the racoons, the pigeons, the urban dirt, that can truck it. Indeed, we wonder if nature is not producing "abominations" (viruses, mutations, etc.,) herself precisely because science himself has upped the anti and changed the stakes. Isn’t it romantic to think that Nature is making an effort for life to win through, adapting to our mess; and isn’t it ironic to think that we are failing miserably; that only our technologies can help us with this process!?

If then, we can link civilization and plutonium as unnatural because we have no idea where they are going, that is to say, what is next, and similar issues are present in GMO's, the real question is what it means to take issue with the labeled GMO over there. What's the big deal? It's not natural? What about eating agricultural products is natural anyways? Whence Nature? 

What am I trying to say? To say that biotechnology is over there, labeled in the supermarket, is to fail to address that we are already biological-technologies; that our biologies are already caught up in the realm of no nature. Our psychologies are dependent; we cannot live without our shelters and agriculture; we cannot live without the grid. As it is impossible to escape the potential doomsday scenario courtesy of nazi scientists, to live eden, it is practically inexpedient to forage and live outside of the logic of work. In other words, the logic of domestication is a form of manipulation, ripping natural bodies from robust nature capable of withstanding the elements (whatever-nature), and thrusting them ultimately into hyper-culture. Only modified organisms can survive in the desert that is living here. Therefore, the difference between being-cyborg and GMO's is one of scale. Splicing a gene from one with one from an other, that in no way would have come about through slow adaptation, is only a hyper manifestation of a process that we are undergoing. Looking at the GMO to us is like the feral looking at civilization. Liberals against GMO's would hypocritically have us believe that modified life is permissible while Monsatan is the most terrible. But diversity in nature (or even at the edges of the city--those racoons are tough as fuck! and even more so than the weaker beings structured and contained for our sublimations in the preserves--) in general stands in stark contrast to the lack thereof in the everyday "Bloom”. Unlike my favorite beings, the strong at the edge, we weak humyns do not have what it takes to live with our mess; so we need our technologies to cope.

My own domestication makes me sick, which is tantamount to critiquing the "privilege" of "living" in civilization. GMO's are only an extreme of being caught under the apparatus that is container-civilization; but everything of this shitty quality of life is an extreme; therefore, nothing of the sort ought to remain.