Posts Tagged ‘Baudrillard


Doyle’s On Beyond Living

Richard Doyle
On Beyond Living: Rhetorical Transformation of the Life Sciences
Area: Digital Media
Chapter 1: The Sublime Object of Biology

•    Not the economy of differences between signs and things, but the force field that organizes the relations between them
•    The ‘freezing’ of scientific discourse suspends its relation to history as well as its relations to language.  For what does not appear in the freeze-frame of science is the technology of framing itself, what I call rhetorical software
o    Rhetorical software foregrounds the relational and material interactions that make possible the emergence of scientific statement
•    Foucault: pre-19th century, “life” didn’t exist because biology as a science hadn’t yet been articulated (Order of Things)
•    Life becomes the unseen guarantor of biology, knowable only at a distance
•    Living species are classified alive because of what they conceal
•    Ontological economy = spent life
•    Reproduction maintains life, it doesn’t create it
•    Any given cell can be seen as nothing but the instantiation of a memory of past “choices”—directed by the genetic program
•    Postvital organism is nothing but coding
•    What are we studying when we study life?
•    Two meanings of resolution: precision and closure
•    Transparent body, unseen, resolved into nothing: memory of a body, body of a memory—past choices of ancestry
•    Two deaths: symbolic and biological (Lacan)
•    Rotman: meta-sign—inscription marks absence
3: “We usually think of an experimental report as a narration of some prior visual experience: it points to sensory experiences that lie behind the text. This is correct.  However, we should also appreciate that the text itself constitutes a visual source.  That is, narrative functions as a kind of supplement to the material technology of the air pump, framing it in a coherent and persuasive fashion so that others might be convinced of Robert Boyle’s finding at a distance in the absence of the pump or of Boyle.”
4: “For Derrida, writing about the writing of philosophy, this impossibility of arriving at the final or complete metaphor of metaphor exhibits philosophy’s dependence on the passed over, the preterit, something ‘outside the system.’  That is, the very working of metaphor, the fact of metaphor, testifies to the fact that language works through a forgetting, at the very least a forgetting of what we mean by metaphor.  Our mania for accounts of language that stress the possibility of univocality and overlook the force and rhetoricity of language occludes the ways in which language matters.”
9: “The virtual is the unsaid of the statement, the unthought of thought.  It is real and subsists in them, but must be forgotten at least momentarily for a clear a statement to be produced….The task of philosophy is to explore that inevitable forgetting, to reattach statements to the conditions of their emergence.” (Deleuze)
15: “For cells, as for computers, memory makes complex programs possible; and many cells together, each one stepping through its complex developmental control program, generate a complex adult body…Thus the cells of the embryo can be likened to an array of computers operating in parallel and exchanging information with one another. Each cell contains the same genome and therefore the same built-in program, but it can exist in a variety of states; the program directs development along various alternative paths according to a combination of the past information the cell has remembered and the present environmental signals it receives.”
16: “These choices lead to the eradication of the centrality and sovereignty of the cell as agent, much as in the rhizomatic example drawn from Deleuze and Guattari’s ATP: ‘Puppet strings, as a rhizomatic or a multiplicity of nerve fibers, which form another puppet in other dimensions to the first.”
17: “For the postvital body, the overlooking or disappearance of the body displaces this ‘beyond’ onto an ever denser and ever more complex genetic apparatus.  That is, it is not simply that the accelerating pursuit of knowledge of molecular genetics leads to a greater appreciation of the richness of genetic expression. Rather, the intensity of the pursuit of a ‘complete understanding’ of C. elegans increases the resolutions of analysis and plunges research ever deeper into the genome to a place beyond the molecule, the postvital.”
Chapter 2: Mr. Schrodinger Inside Himself: The Rhetorical Origins of the Genetic Code
•    Pattern = cradle-to-grave biography
•    “Smart” DNA = DNA as an AI
30: “Derrida has argued that philosophy cannot be extricated from its rhetoricity, most notably due to philosophy’s reliance upon metaphor.  But the other side of this analysis also shows the extent to which rhetoric is indebted to philosophy: ‘metaphor remains, in all its essential characteristics, a classical philosopheme.’ Philosophy nad rhetoric thus mark not oppositions, but lines of difference, what Gilles Deleuze might call a ‘fold,’ or what Derrida explicates as ‘the contamination of logic, the logic of contamination.’  These cross-pollinating models all point to the ways in which discourses, like the chromosomes in Schrodinger’s text, cross over and ‘contain’ each other.  As a play of differences rather than a tool for meaning and communication, scientific discourse can be seen to be both productively and hopelessly embedded in the discourses of technology, philosophy, and as we shall see, cartoons.”
36:  “The cyborg now constructs and orders the slave ‘body’ in smart but lifeless immanence, fulfilling the function of the ‘director to the board of an industrial corporation,’ while the proteins work ‘by processes essentially resembling those of assembly plant robots.’ In short, Adam’s text announces that the cyborg no longer needs the organism to ‘implement’ its program.  In a reversal of McLuhan, ‘man’ becomes the extension of the nanotechnological, a mean puppet run by molecular machines.”
Chapter 6: Emergent Power: Vitality and Theology in Artificial Life
•    The rhetoric of molecular biology implies (literally) that there is no outside of the genetic text
•    Vitality, too, in the age of simulation, that which can be ‘xeroxed’
•    Dawkins: “raining DNA”—everything can be replicated; it is real/can live
110: “Rhetorical softwares play a crucial tactical role in this regime of power, as it is through rhetorics that he uncanny connection between the machine and the organism is installed and managed.  Dispersed from the unity of the organism, life gets networked, located, and articulated through a computer screen.”
113:  “Life is no longer that which can be distinguished in a more or less certain fashion from the mechanical; it is that in which all the possible distinctions between living beings have their basis” (Foucault)
123:  “The age of simulation thus begins with a liquidation of all referentials—worse: by their artificial resurrection in systems of signs….It is no longer a question of imitation, not of reduplication, not even of parody.  It is rather a question imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody.  It is rather of question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself.” (Baudrillard)


Derrida’s Archive Fever

Jacques Derrida
Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Arkhe: 2 names at once—commencement and the commandment
o    There where things commence
o    There where authority is exercised
•    Order is not longer assured
2: “It is thus, in this domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.  The dwelling, this place where they dwell permanently, marks this institutional passage from the private to the public, which does not always mean from the secret to the nonsecret.”
5: “Sigmund Freud, the proper name, on the one hand, and, on the other, the invention of psychoanalysis: project of knowledge, of practice and of institution, community, family, domiciliation, consignation, ‘house’ or ‘museum,’ in the present state of its archivization.  What is in question is situated precisely between the two.”
•    An eco-nomic archive in this double sense: it keeps, it puts in reverse, it saves, but in an unnatural fashion
•    Where does the archive commence? This is the question of the archive
•    The death drive works to destroy the archive: on the condition of effacing but also with a view to effacing its own ‘proper’ traces
o    Devours before producing on the outside
•    *See Baudrillard’s Vital Illusion: the museumification of everything before it can even exist
•    There is no archive without a certain exteriority; without an outside
o    Assures the possibility of memorization, repetition, reproduction
•    This compulsion is indissociable from the death drive
•    The archive always works against itself
•    The archival model is to represent on the outside memory as internal archivization
•    The machine, and consequently, representation, is death and finitude within the psyche
o    The machine has begun to resemble memory
•    The future consists of a transformation of archivization techniques
•    The archivization produces as it much as it records the event
o    Psychoanalysis wouldn’t be what it was with e-mail
•    What is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way
7: “In this way, the exergue has at once an institutive and a conservative function: the violence of a power which at once posits and conserves the law, as the Benjamin of Zur Kritk der Gewalt would say. What is at issue here, starting with the exergue, is the violence of the archive itself, as archive, as archival violence.”
11: “But, the point must be stressed, this archiviolithic force leaves nothing of its own behind.  AS the death drive is also, according to the most striking worlds of Freud himself, an aggression and a destruction drive, it not only incites forgetfulness, amnesia, the annihilation of memory, as mneme or anamnesis, but also commands the radical effacement, in truth and eradication, of that which can never be reduced to mneme or to anamnesis, that is, the archive, consignation, the documentary or monumental apparatus as hypomnema, mnemotechnical supplement or representative, auxiliary or memorandum.  Because the archive, if this word or this figure can be stabilized so as to take on a signification, will never be either memory or anamnesis or spontaneous, alive and internal experience.  On the contrary: the archive takes place at the place of originary and structural breakdown of the said memory.”
16: “One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-logical shocks which would have made the landscape of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by had, had had access to MCI or AT&T telephonic credit cards, portable tape recorders, computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences, and above all E-mail.”
•    Does it change anything that Freud didn’t know about the computer?
•    We don’t have a theory of the archive, only an impression of it
25: “I asked myself what is the moment proper to the archive, if there is such a thing, the instant of archivization strictly speaking, which is not, and I will come back to this, so-called live or spontaneous memory, but rather a certain hypomnesic and prosthetic experience of the technical substrate.”


Baudrillard’s The Vital Illusion

Jean Baudrillard
The Vital Illusion
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Chapter 1: The Final Solution: Cloning beyond the Human and Inhuman

•    Cancer cells forget to die—forget how to die
•    Only by obtaining the power to die, that we live
o    We’re now eclipsing this with cloning
•    Freud’s death drive: nostalgia for a state before appearance of individuality and sexual differentation—state before were mortal and distinct from one another
•    First, sex was liberated from reproduction, now reproduction is liberated from sex
o    Sex is becoming a useless function
•    Death, once a vital function, could become a luxury
o    When death is eliminated, the luxury of dying increases: cyberdeath
•    Durable and contradictory movement: humankind tries to build itself a deathless alterego and at the same time to perfect natural selection through artificial selection
o    Puts an end to natural selection
•    “The specter that haunts genetic manipulation is the genetic idea, a perfect model obtained through the elimination of all negative traits”
•    Behind the Rights of Man are the prerogatives of an endangered species
•    The loss of the human is serious, but the loss of the inhuman is just as serious
•    In process of erasing the distinction between human and inhuman by reconciling them
•    Clone overthrowing the father (not the sleep with the mother) but to regain status as the original
•    Life is preserved as long as it is has exchange value
15-6: “If we discover that not everything can be cloned, simulated, programmed, genetically and neurologically managed, then whatever survives could truly be called ‘human’: some inalienable and indesctructible human quality could finally be identified.”
22: “Once the human is no longer defined in terms of transcendence and liberty, but in terms of functions and of biological equilibrium, the definition of the human itself begins to fade, along with that of humanism.”
Chapter 2: The Millennium, or The Suspense of the Year 2000
•    Cleansing is the prime activity of this fin-de-siecle
o    Turning away from history ‘in progress’
o    Nothing’s been resolved, plunging into a regressive history
•    Time is counted by subtraction—starting → end
•    Fanatical memorization: commemorations, rehabilitations, cultural museification
o    Making the past itself into a clone
o    Instead of first existing, works of art go straight into a museum
•    Makes of excess (ecstasy of the body: obesity—fatter than fat; ecstasy of information: simulation—truer than true)
•    But is a ghost history, a spectral history, still a history?
•    If Foucault can analyze power it’s because power no longer has a definition that can properly be called political
51: “That the system of information has been substituted for that of history and is starting to produce events in the same way that Capital is starting to produce Work.  Just as labor, under these circumstances, no longer has any significance of its own, the event produced by information has ho historical meaning of its own.  This is the point where we enter the transhistorical or transpolitical—that is to say, the sphere where events do not really take place precisely because they are produced and broadcast ‘in real time,’ where they have no meaning because they can have all possible meanings.”
Chapter 3: The Murder of the Real
•    No corpse, no victim
•    The Real is disappearing because there is too much of it
o    Excess brings end
•    Illusion is the general rule of the universe; reality is but an exception
65: “This short circuit and instantaneity of all things in global information we call ‘real time.”  Real time can be seen as a Perfect Crime perpetrated against time itself: for with the ubiquity and instant availability of the totality of information, time reaches its point of perfection, which is also its vanishing point.  Because of course a perfect time has no memory and no future.”
82: “Either we think of technology as the exterminator of Being, the exterminator of the secret, of seduction and appearances, or we imagine that technology, by the way of an ironic reversibility, might be an immense detour toward the radical illusion of the world.”


Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation

Jean Baudrillard
Simulacra and Simulation
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
The Precession of Simulacra

•    “Simulation is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”
•    The real can be reproduced an infinite number of times
•    Dissimulating = pretending ≠ simulating
o    Masked and reality is intact
•    Cartesian hesitation between true and false (he’s acting crazy because he really is)
•    Successive phases of an image:
o    It is the reflection of a profound reality: good
o    It masks and denatures a profound reality: evil
o    It masks the absence of a profound reality: being an appearance
o    It has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum: simulation
•    Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the “real” country
•    Not a question of concealing the real, but concealing the fact that the real is no longer real
•    Simulation is characterized by the procession of models
•    The proof of something through its opposite (proof of theater through antitheater)
o    “Everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form.”
•    “It is now impossible to isolate the process of the real, or to prove the real”
•    Hyperrealism of simulation is translated by the hallucinatory resemblance of the real to itself
•    Power only produces signs of its resemblance
•    Loud’s filming experiment: they lived as if we/you weren’t there
o    You no longer watch TV, it’s TV that’s watching you
•    Simulation begins where there’s an implosion of meaning
•    “One enters into simulation and this absolute manipulation—not into passivity, but into the indifferentation of the active and the passive”
2: “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody.  It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real, that is to say of an operation of deterring every real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive machine that offers all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes.  Never again will the real have the chance to produce itself—such is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection, that no longer even gives the event of death a chance.”
20: “Simulation is infinitely more dangerous because it always leaves open to supposition that, above and beyond its object, law and order themselves might be nothing but simulation.”
29: “Truth that is no longer the reflexive truth of the mirror, nor the perspectival truth of the panoptic system and of the gaze, but the manipulative truth of the test that sounds out and interrogates, of the laser that touches and pierces, of computer cards that retain your preferred sequences, of the genetic code that controls your combinations, of cells that inform your sensory universe.”
History: A Retro Scenario
•    Terrorism is always that of the real
•    Relation between cinema and real is an inverse, negative relation: loss of specificity
45: “Neofiguration is an invocation of resemblance, but at the same time the flagrant proof of the disappearance of objects in their very representation: hyperreal.  Therein objects shine in a sort of hyperresemblance (like history in contemporary cinema) that makes it so that fundamentally they no longer resemble anything, except the empty figure of resemblance, the empty form of representation.  It is a question of life or death: these objects are no longer either living or deadly.”
•    Forgetting, annihilation, finally achieves its aesthetic dimension in this way—it’s achieved in retro, finally elevated to a mass level
49-50: “And one would like to have us believe that TV will life the weight of Auschwitz by making a collective awareness radiate, whereas television is its perpetuation in another guise, this time no longer under the auspices of a site of annihilation, but of a medium of deterrence.”
The Beaubourg Effect: Implosion and Deterrence
•    People have the desire to take everything, to pillage.  The only massive effect is manipulation
Hypermarket and Hypercommodity
•    People themselves come in response to the functional and directed question that the objects constitute
•    The hypermarket preexists the metropolitan area
The Implosion of Meaning in the Media
•    More and more information, less and less meaning
•    Where we think information produces meaning, the opposite occurs
•    More real than real, that is how the real is abolished
•    Electronic mass media: end of the message
o    No more mediating power between one reality and another
82: “If all the content is wiped out, there is perhaps still a subversive, revolutionary use value of the medium as such.  That is—and this is where McLuhan’s formula leads, pushed to its limit—there is not only an implosion of the message in the medium, there is, in the same movement, the implosion of the medium itself in the real, the implosion of the medium and of the real in a sort of hyperreal nebula, in which even the definition and distinct action of the medium can no longer be determined.”
84: “There is a paradox in this inextricable conjunction of the masses and the media: do the media neutralize meaning and produce unformed or informed masses, or is it the masses who victoriously resist the media by directing or absorbing all the messages that the media produce without responding to them?”
Clone Story

•    The double is the subject itself and never resembles itself again
•    The body being nothing but the infinite series of prostheses
•    What is lost in serial reproducibility is the aura
96-7: “The Father and the Mother have disappeared, not in the service of an aleatory liberty of the subject, but in service of a matrix called code.  No more mother, no more father: a matrix.  And it is the matrix, that of the genetic code, that now infinitely ‘gives birth’ based on a functional mode purged of all aleatory sexuality.”
•    When an object is exactly like another, it’s not exactly like it, but a bit more exact
o    There is never similitude, any more that there is exactitude
105-6: “In the hologram, it is the imaginary aura of the double that is mercilessly tracked, just as it is in the history of clones.  Similitude is a dream and must remain one, in order for a modicum of illusion and a stage of the imaginary to exist.  One must never pass over to the side of the real, the side of the exact resemblance of the world to itself, of the subject to itself.  Because then the image disappears.”
Simulacra and Science Fiction
•    3 orders of simulacra:
o    Natural: founded on the image: utopia: operatic
o    Productive: founded on energy: science fiction: operative
o    Simulation: founded on information: end of science fiction: operational
The Remainder
•    Is there an opposite of “the remainder”?
•    All of the real is residual and everything that is residual is destined to repeat itself indefinitely in phantasms
146: “All accumulation is nothing but a remainder, and the accumulation of remainders, in the sense that tit is a rupture of alliance, and in the linear infinity of accumulation and calculation, in the linear infinity of production, compensates for the energy and value that used to be accomplished in the cycle of alliance.”
Value’s Last Tango
•    Panic of university administrators: diplomas awarded without “real” work
o    Without equivalence in knowledge

December 2018
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