SOME FRAGMENTARY PROLEGOMENA ON BIOSOCIAL KITSCH

24 02 2009

By MICHAEL ROSSI

Let’s begin with Paul Rabinow’s 1992 essay, “Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality.” Written in a climate of unreflective and unselfconscious enthusiasm for the emerging human genome project, Rabinow – writing perhaps with a mild sense of irony – sought, as he put it, to “sketch some of the ways in which […] the two poles of the body and population are being rearticulated into what could be called a post-disciplinary rationality.” By postdisciplinary, he notes, he does not mean “post-modern.” What he does mean is that, to paraphrase, “in the future, the new genetics […] will become […] a circulation network through which a truly new type of autoproduction will emerge, which I call ‘biosociality.’ If sociobiology is culture constructed on the basis of a metaphor of nature, then in biosociality, nature will be modeled on culture understood as practice. Nature will be known and remade through technique and will finally become artificial, just as culture becomes natural” (Rabinow, 1992) – a heady prognostication, even for an era unabashedly full of promise.

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