Ghosts, the Incalculable, and the Suspension of Animation
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: State University of New York Press
TechnoLogics: Ghosts, the Incalculable, and the Suspension of Animation
Writing is an act of gratitude. My thanks go to Barry Alford, Anne Alton, Gary Astrachan, Bill Brevda, Mary Ann Crawford, William Doty, Hedwig Fraunhofer, Peter Haddad, Heidi Holder, Robert Hrdina, Joseph Lease, John Moore, Jerry Neeb-Crippen, Daniel Patterson, Robert Paul, Steve Scholl, David Smith, Christina Tassev,...
TechnoLogics is an attempt to understand the uncanny logic that is unfolding for all of us as it enfolds all of us in its multiple orders. It concerns itself with small prefixes such as un-, re-, and in-, as well as with the broad movements of history that leap from the Hebrew Bible and Plato straight into the nineteenth century and beyond. Rather than directly analyze the chronological...
I. Laying Down the Power Grid
1. Call Forwarding
Cloning, the immortality of the reproduction of the same, has always been the openly secret dream of homo phantasticus, but such dreaming, in the dominant history of the west, has been subsumed by the logic of the drive for the rational explication and use of the world that we have come to call metaphysics. This subsumption has not destroyed the dreaming, but, rather, has installed...
There is a low humming in the background. Everything is now on-line. Powered up. We must, whether we want to or not, put ourselves on the line as well. What, though, is a line? What is the course of the line between the living and the dead, the animate and the inanimate? What does it mean that now, driven by the program of technology, we are attempting crossings back and forth across that line that has long been...
3. The Platonic Teleport
Plato launches metaphysics, the thought-program that will give rise to cloning, artificial intelligence, and the crisscrossing of the (in)animate at the turning of the transepochal. And this Platonic template—with multiple revisions, to be sure—is teleported as far into the future as we can see. The file carries the name, among others, of cognitive science, the human genome project, AI, and vir-...
II. Ghosts in the Machines
4. The Elixir of Life
Many specters haunt the nineteenth century. One of them is called communism, but there is an uncanny phantasmagoria of other names produced by the encounter between the ghosts of the past and the ghosts of the future in a present that is haunted by both. As capital, linked with the sciences, begins to gain the power to realize ancient dreams of immortality, Nathaniel...
5. The Immortality Machine of Capitalism
In 1833, Karl Marx turned twelve years old and alchemy, Frankenstein, and capitalism awaited his coming. What Marx would come to understand better than anyone else in the nineteenth century was the historical sociality—the “social brain” of emergent capitalism—of all human events, and it was Marx who first demonstrated how the alchemical dream of immortality had been...
6. Bartleby the Incalculable
Plato responded to the call of the distinguishability of numbers and letters, constructing a matrix of value that was, after its incarnation as the Hegelian Weltgeist, overturned by Marx, who responded to the call of labor, alchemy, money, justice, and a table that was not a table. Already for Marx, the world was haunted by the frozen desire of commodities, fetishes, the vampire of capital, and...
III. The Suspension of Animation
7. The Drone of Technocapitalism
On the occasion of his 100th birthday, Ernst Jünger briefly commented on the century in which he has lived. Concerning the year of his birth, 1895, Jünger recalled the Dreyfus affair in France and Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays, which “finally made the invisible visible and made possible new measurements of the organic and the inorganic world.”1 This is where we today exist: on the...
8. The Psychotelemetry of Surveillance
If Zapparoni represents the possibility of absolute surveillance in a world dominated by the electronic surveillance produced by the twinning of science and capitalism, his domain has been under preparation, as we have seen, for a very long time, passing along a network articulated first by Plato but carried along by all the transformers in the West. That net included Oedipus, which also creates its...
9. Temps: Time, Work, and the Delay
We are all temps. Riding the tides of time that ebb and flow, settle and swirl. Weathered and scored. Scoured. “There is a ’now’ of the untimely; there is a singularity which is that of this disjunction of the present” (Derrida and Ferraris 2002, 12). Here today, gone tomorrow. Split. Timed out. Provisionally employed, tensely employed in the legerdemain of...
Conclusion: Heeding the Phantomenological
Perhaps, though, in the end nothing has changed. After all, we all wake up in the morning, go about our business as we live out our numbered days, and then slip away, at one time or another, into sleep at first and then, at last, into the night of nothingness. We continue to hope for a long life, for love in its many forms, and for a graciously courageous death. We are anxious about being...