Doyle’s Wetwares: Experiments in Postvital Living

Richard Doyle, Wetwares: Experiments in Postvital Living
Area: Digital Media
Notes from the text
7: Conjunction and ellipsis becomes, in Burroughs’s hands, machines for connection and entanglement with another, even if that other be silence… ‘Silence takes on the quality of a dimension here…’ Entangled with the future, the ballistic collision of flesh and metal becomes an accomplished fact when the future itself is familiar.”
9: “ Artificial life disturbs, continually rendering the border between life and nonlife, flesh and machine, seductively uncertain.”
14: “More than spaces is smeared in this zone of indiscernibility between sign and future – the clean border between present and future becomes slashed, leaking into the sudden jolting of qualitative difference in that zone of variation present/future, becoming.”
19:  A question of what life is:
•    Watson: “in order to know what life is, we must know how genes act”
•    Doyle: “And yet this localization of life onto genetic actors –“what life is”—has also enabled an astonishing distribution of vitality, one that allows us to speak of ‘artificial life,’ simulacra that are not simply models of life but are in fact instances of it.”
23: “The rhetorical challenge posed by life that emerges out of networks goes beyond the ontological uncertainty that haunts artificial life—are they really alive?—and becomes a problem of articulation: How can something that dwells not in a place but in virtuality, a network, be rendered? Hence rhetorical problems haunt not simply the status of alife creatures, but their locations.”
23-4: “Rhetorics of ‘localization’ suggest that some particular organism ‘in’ or ‘on’ the computer is ‘alive,’ thereby occluding the complex ecology of brains, flesh, code, and electric grids that alife thrives on and enabling the usual habits of narrative—an actor moving serially through a world—to flourish, as a more recognizable and perhaps seductive understanding of an organism as ‘agent’ survives.”
24: “Bu alife is in a slightly different position with respect to its rhetorical components, as the actual difference of artificial life, as ‘life,’ is continually at stake.  This crisis of vitality that pervades alife is not simply due to alife’s status as a ‘simulation,’ alife merges out of a context in which quite literally, life disappears, as the ‘life effect’ becomes representable through the flicker of networks rather than articulable and definable locales.”
•    Representation of live (Pierce, Langton, Levy)
30: “The real resembles the possible whereas the actual responds to the virtual” (Deleuze→Levy)
44: “Cryonics…emerges out of a similarly distributing response: vitality becomes distributed over time as well as space…in that light, cryonics might be seen as an odd vestige of the old corporeality, where the body, like the buggy whip,  persists longs after it is ‘needed.’ Such a judgment, though, forgets the retooled nature of the post vital body; it is not lost or forgotten so much as in transit, becoming code—the cryonic body is hooked up to the future.”
57: “Hence, ‘life’ is contained ‘in’ this artificial universe, not in the (natural?) (uni?) universe.  Just as identity is associated with an invisibility of the institutions and communities that enable it, so too does vitality seem to emerge only through the invisibility of its networks”
66: “…the cryonics patient is promised a self that will persist even through the sudden avalanche of identity called ‘awakening.’ I am still I.  Friends and family have become healthier, wealthier, but not different.  Subjectivity persists in death in a manner impossible in life; if identity is a set of becomings, it is only in becoming-frozen that becoming itself is frozen”
68: “Here the cryonic body exemplifies Levinas’ observations about subjectivity: “Subjectivity realizes these impossible exigencies—the astonishing feat of containing more than it is possible to contain.” The cryonic subject, alive or dead, thus ‘contains’ more thank itself; as a body with an ongoing subjectivity, the cryonic body is oddly shaped, as it contains its future.  It depends on the boundless need for an ongoing promise, a promise to preserve the body, name, and project of the cryonic subject”
69: The difficulty of deciding who owns the body in the future
•    Rhetorical undecidability
71: Creating a personal archive—memory for the future
Notes from class
•    D&G: Burning expenditures
•    Rhetorical software
o    Softwares aren’t immaterial
•    Somewhere inbetween
•    Conceptualization of viability
•    Cybernetic subjectivity
•    New comprehension of sexuality
o    Sexual not intimate, private
o    Public-cultural
o    Human rights part of the problem
•    Subjectivity of absence
•    Cybernetics
o    Compared to rhetoric in connection to Gorgias
•    If our mode of resistance has changed, so has control
o    Deleuze, Burroughs
o    Resistance won’t work for long
o    Biopower and technoscience

(Review conclusion: Rhetorical software)


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