Exe0.1 Fran Gallardo
A Tongue without Government; or the execution of life vs the life of execution
"No organism eats its own waste" ((Margulis reported in Brockman 1995)
The experience of eating is quite a popular one. Indeed most organisms—be they marsh frogs, coral reefs or post-modern human societies--devote almost a third of their daily activities at food-oriented tasks (ref). To a certain extent, a “metabolic imperative” could be formulated following Watlawick's (1967)1 second axiom: “One cannot not metabolise”. Even Kafka's Hunger Artist cannot escape from such dire. Myra Hird (2012), on exploring Elisabeth Grosz’s engagement of sexual difference through evolutionary theory, argues for metabolism as the collapse point of the life/nonlife bifurcation. While the government of the (unruly) tongue has been a recursive theme in Elizabethan society, this article will try to introduce the force of a tongue without government as the site of execution. In order to do so it will contrast two mutually exclusive conceptions of the execution of nature. The nature of execution, this article will propose is one inclusive of particular forms of violence which are introduced by Nixon (2011)2, that is, those which are slow, accretive and distributed, albeit rather unevenly.
(from Greek: μεταβολή metabolē, "change") from metaballein “to change.” from meta-”over” + ballein “to throw”
Classical and modern understandings of metabolism have been focused in the chemical conversion of food to energy and body matter. German soil-chemist Justus von Liebig, as John Bellamy Foster points out (1999, p. 374), was responsible for expanding the use of the term metabolism (Stoffwechsel), from material exchanges in the human body, up to the biochemical processes of natural systems. On the other hand, as noted by sociologist Hanna Landeker (2011)1, contemporary metabolism addresses food as a conditioning environment: food shapes the genome's activity and body's physiology (Feinberg et al 2010; Dolinoy et al; 2007). In other words, metabolism, through the lens of nutritional epigenetic, is a regulatory interface shaped by the environment; food is no longer just a fuel or substrate: it becomes a form of environmental exposure. Take for instance not so recent studies in adipose tissue. Fat is not just an efficient reservoir for energy storage cushioning the monogamous relationship between us and our many screens (Kershaw & Flier, 2004; Siiteri, 1987; Flier et al, 1987)2. Not surprisingly, fat is now seen as vibrant organ, which interacts with other bodily function within the endocrine network.
Ten powers 10
British sociologist Nikolas Rose in his elaborating Foucault's notion of biopolitics, has argued for a novel politics of life within contemporary biomedicine. The main feature for this condition was the molecularisation of life. Health and life were thus defined at a molecular register via technoscientifc practices—such as within genomics, biotechnology and neurochemistry. Life was thereby populated by molecular-scale entities, processes and relationships. Look closer. Closer even. More specific takes can be found elsewhere. For instance, Paul B Preciado's construction of the pharmacopornographic subject examines the role of pharmaceutics and pornography in the formation of sexual subjectivities via sexo-micro-technological control. Michelle Murphy explores new forms of chemical embodiment and molecular re-composition that is knotted with a larger political economy1. For Rose, the molecularisation of Life is also characterised by a new “style of thought” modelled on genomics, which emphasizes information, individuated risks and individuated variations.
With the question What is life? Erwin Schrodinger introduced Claude E. Shannon's poorly understood theory of communication into the field of biology. The “binary digital” or bit precluded our understanding of DNA and the genetic code. The same question has been recently taken by theorist biologist Stuart Kauffman. In an extensive work, Kauffman has expanded Schrodinger's definition beyond information into agential language. For Kauffman an autonomous agent is an autocatalytic system able to reproduce and to extract work from the environment. Kauffman and Clayton (2005) expanded that notion in the paper on On emergence, agency, and organization by naming five conditions in order to understand biological agency: autocatalytic reproduction; work cycles; boundaries for reproducing individuals; self-propagating work and constraint construction; and choice and action that have evolved to respond to food or poison (Kauffman and Clayton, 2005, p:501) The agential interjection “Yuk vs Yum” is perhaps a more interesting endeavour for the purposes of this paper.
Executing Standards: template replication as code executing life
In april 2010 Craig Venture Institute reported the creation of the first synthetic organism. It was named M. mycoides JVCI-syn1.0 or, more appropiately, Micoplasma Laboratorium. The novelty of the team's approach, as they explained themselves in the science article, contrasted starkly to ordinary methods based on modifications of natural genomes. Life was not just executed by introducing multiple insertions, substitutions, or selective deletions. The team transplanted and expressed the chemically synthesized genome of a donor into a recipient cell. Firstly, the bacterial chromosomes of M. mycoides were used as a template and �digitised into a Binary Assignment Map (BAM)�, then assambled, cloned and extracted from yeast. The cell host Mycoplasma capricolum was voided of previous genome structures, including a plasmid suspected of conferring antimicrobial resistance. Not without some methilation troubles, M. capricolum was rebooted using M. mycoides assambled genome.
CVI never formulated their experiment in terms of software execution. However, there were several aspects of Micoplasma Laboratorium which can be considered as spills over from computational culture: -Watermarking: Fearing the extreme promiscuity that such organisms would have displayed in the wild, as well protecting millonaire investments into synthetic DNA constructs, the JCVI team introduced 4 watermarks to differentiate M. laboratorium from its now relative mycoides. Separated by stop codons and coded in the form of 3 DNA base pairs, where a sequence would have specified the amino acids leucine, tryptophan and many others, an html script, three lists of authors and three quotes were introduced
James Joyce: "To live to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life".
Robert Oppenheimer (uncredited): "See things not as they are, but as they might be".Richard Feynman: "What I cannot build, I cannot understand".
However, should we take seriously there are some interesting remarks here first, before heading to a more oozy, dirty conception of executing life:
-If we are to believe Timothy Morton's (2010)i assertion by which “life forms cannot be said to differ in a rigorous way from texts” for neither life forms nor texts cannot be said to have a single, independent and lasting indentity ...then deconstruction and microbiology should talk to one another. Perhaps Craigs Venter's m. laboratorium or Haraway's oncomouse might have contributed as living examples of deconstruction, should they be considered as denaturalisation, de-essentialisation. Ferran Adria and Derrida might have more in common that we might suspect at first.
-If life can be deconstructued, it can also be abstracted
Indigestion as execution
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan argued for the beginings of both symbiotic mergers and meiotic sex' in abortibe cannibalism and/or failure to divide by cytokenesis. The latter implies cytokinesis inhibition (a product of a sudden chill, an influx of cold water, the appearance of toxins in water, etc) after nuclear cell division (karyokinesis)--to err is more-than-human by definition. The former suggested that protist originally canibalized other protists but did not diggest them.
Or putting this more succintly indigestion. Blepharisma, a huge ciliate whose single cell sometimes reach a milimiter long, has been know to ingest other Blepharisma when UV threatened (Giese, 1973)i Stentors have been found to predate fellows larger than themselves,the pray ramaining alive and actively rotating for long periods of even 24h (Gelei 1925). In some instaces, the victim is released and usually recovers. In most cases the prey is surrounded by a membrane en eclosed as a food vacoule within which it stops moving and dies. Lemuel Roscoe Cleveland, while he was a professor of biology at Harvard University, published in Science magazine a very clear theory solving the problem of the origin of our kind of meiotic sex. As he experimented with life protozoa and protoctists biology, LM Cleveland reported hypermastigotes—swimming wood-digesting protoctist known of habitating the hindgut of roach Cryptocercus punctulaly—faced with the challenge of starvation or desiccation came together in attempts to to engulf each other. Once attached, one hypermastigote would open its membrane and fuse with the other. While this “meal” would often tide the organism over until conditions improved. In some cases the ingestion succeeds, and one hypermastigote diggests every last cell appendage of the victim. In other cases, the ingested partner is rejected and expelled into the medium. Cleveland realized he was watching abortive cannibalism. An immune system is only restricted to multicellularity and complex organisms, however, despite most protists having a rich assorment of digestive hydrolytic enzymes, they also have complex mechanisms to protect their own cells from autodigestion. Therefore victims were more likely to resist chemical digestion from same specie attacks—the hardy product of indigestion “ingestion followed by subsequent failrure of digestion” (Margulis 1986: 151). A fat cell with 2 nuclei might present certain advantages to dissecation (lower volume to surface ratio), however, preassure involving the regularisation of karuogamy has been generally accepted. The final step in the conversion of cannivalism to fertilisation migh involve the fusion of nuclei assumed by Margulis, and Cleveland noted how two such closely spaced nuclei fused Complex celularity Death and saw their foibles, fumbles, and serious mistakes, he realized that fertilization began as an accident of desperation. Meiotic sex, as a strategy of survival, occurred in the aftermath of cannibalistic indigestion.. The two merged cells would form a new single cell with two nuclei and two sets of chromosomes. Cleveland, living daily in his microcosm, recognized the final cannibalistic truce. This was more than aborted cannibalism. Power law
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