Turbulence deviates from equilibrium. And the beginning of the vortex is the minimal angle of declination. The fact that life disturbs the order of the world means literally that at first, life is turbulence. 1
The Mechanics Of Fluids
The origins of life are turbulent, because the origins of life are a matter of fluids. If, as McMenamin suggests, life on earth is an extension of the sea (Hypersea), water has been and is with us all the time. It does not just lie in the past, as a distant origin which has been left behind by the evolution of terrestrial life. 2 Water is not just the repressed unconscious, something we regress to, like the internal seas of the womb, but it is a present origin. 3 Water is the condition of life and its ultimate currency, that which circulates and is circulated, the most immediate example of the fluidity of life.
And yet the mechanics of fluids suffered a long period of neglect during the establishment of the disciplinary society, when the social body was solidified around the self and its institutional enclosures (prisons, factories, asylums, clinics). Disciplinary science was intrigued by the movements of solids, objects falling through spaces, but also by the constancy of energy and its irreversible processes marked by accumulation and discharge. The disciplined body is the thermodynamic organism, the hierarchical organizations of organs, bounded within a self, crossed by currents of energy tending towards entropy and death. For a long time “[f]luid mechanics was no longer really part of physics, the physicists would say. It was mere engineering.” 4 It will take the social, cultural and scientific shifts of the twentieth century for the problem of fluids to come back to the centre of scientific research. The mechanics of fluids is foundational to chaos theory, molecular biology, genetic engineering and even artificial life. It accompanies a large shift from the question of the end (death and entropy) to the current obsession with the question of the beginnings (origins and turbulence). The moment of transition from solids to fluids is the moment of turbulence, of “whorls and eddies”, a “whirling vortex that grows”.
If we remember that postindustrial capital, similarly, is held together by the circulation of decoded flows (flows of money, flows of culture, flows of people),5 then it is clear why the mechanics of fluids, and hence turbulence, is also central to the current redefinition of the question of control. The dissolution of the solid walls of the disciplinary society, according to Gilles Deleuze, has not dismantled disciplinary power so much as released it throughout the social field. Post-disciplinary power operates in a space of flows, a liquid, turbulent space which it rules by way of modulation and optimisation. 6
This paper looks at the shift from discipline to control by focussing on its investment in the body. Our argument is that the renewed attention to the question of origins is of direct concern to the female body, which is now addressed differently than when it used to work out the death drive for Man through filiative reproduction. The turbulent body of molecular biology and chaos theory goes to the limits of death turning reproduction and finitude into infinite production. Death no longer marks the point of exhaustion and random accumulation which needs to be constantly re-channelled into reproductive lineage. Death is now stretched: cloning, digital agents, downloaded minds, transplanted organs, the whole gamut of the cyberpunk imagination scattered all over the cultural landscape. The female body therefore appears as no longer enclosed into the organism and limited exclusively to reproductive sex (meiotic sex). It is no longer exclusively defined by exchange, but by circulation. 7 In artificial life and genetic engineering, we witness a technoscientific descent into the molecular as female and therefore its immersion into turbulent flows. These female turbulent flows appear as the generalised ‘condition of life and its ultimate currency, that which circulates and is circulated’. Confronted by these multiple entanglements of capitalism, technoscience and sex, it becomes clear how insufficient explanations based on technological, economic and sexual determinism really are. These are multiple movements which are not determined by any one apparatus, but they literally feed off each other and are worked through at multiple levels (macro and micro).
Current technoscientific trends, we argue, witness the development of mechanisms of control which are adequate to the management of flows. Technoscience aims to put the turbulent flows to work, while at the same time holding on control by way of modulation, a movement which Gilles Deleuze defines as a ‘sieve with variable mesh’, literally fishing for the new, the different and the functional. The management of turbulence, however, is a tricky business in as much as turbulence is an unpredictable and uncalculable process of production. The control of turbulence is based on what is and can be produced. Within societies of control, power must modulate itself on turbulence, rather than vice versa (the power of modulation acts over rather than within a smooth space). 8
The thermodynamic organism: entropy, death and discipline
It is important to underline the complexity of the historical shifts outlined in this paper especially in their relation to our understanding of the body. We are not arguing that the body is constructed or represented by science. Such an approach would reduce the body to the status of unknowable noumenon, which becomes knowable only as a phenomenon of the self. The shift from a thermodynamic to a turbulent body is not about how science and technology construct and represent the body but involves a process of intensification of the perception of a body. This process entails its complexification as an assemblage of elements and forces both physical and biological which breaks with the Platonic world of representation.
Our understanding of the body is inspired by the work of Baruch Spinoza, Frederick Nietzsche, Luce Irigaray and Gilles Deleuze. These thinkers have outlined the presence of a body as a material composition: fluids, forces, affects constitute a body which preceeds and exceeds the phenomenological self. It is important not to confuse a body with the organism, its most visible and recognizable form. If, as Spinoza argued, a body is not constituted by its form, but by relations of forces and velocities, and a capacity of affecting and being affected, than the organism is populated by bodies and bodies exist between organisms. A body is not pre-given (therefore universal), but always emerges within a process of relations (including relations of power) which defines its singularity. We will see how this Spinozian vision is fundamental to the technosciences of origins and how it can help us to think of bodies as entities which are not reducible to the properties of subjects established within the bio-political apparatuses of meaning and order.This body moves away from the dualisms that split a field of intensive forces into Cartesian mind as opposed to body, spirit to substance: for Spinoza the mind is an idea of the body. 9 We should return to the Spinozian question “we do not know what a body is capable of, what forces belong to it or what they are preparing for.” 10
The relationship between technoscience and the body is an index of different historical formations. It is not a process of construction or representation as much as of perception, a perception which abstracts and produces power/knowledges through the body. So the organism is a mode of organization of the body which was not so much constructed as latched on by disciplinary science in the context of larger historical movements. Similarly the turbulent flows of molecular biology and chaos theory have been not so much constructed or represented as (literally) invested into by technoscience, experimented on and inserted into the technical machine of simulation.
The disciplinary formation sees the emergence of a process of deployment and folding of the body. On the one hand, the body is opened up and turned into a tissual surface. Anatomy discloses the interior, enters the depths and the dens of organs, follows the arborescences of the veins, explores the connections between tubes and channels, which determine the function of organs. On the other hand, the body acquires a defined contour, derived from the localisation of organs and their consequential functions. Their hierarchy appears determined by the limitation of a body to the organism: the organization of organs responding to a centralised movement towards balance and equilibrium.
The surfacing of organs outside the skin implied the necessity of establishing their specificities and belongings. As Foucault underlines, bio-power asked questions about the specificity of the human species and human sexuality as part of its larger process of discipline. The emergence of disciplining practices included the monitoring of the psychic and physical levels of a body, as is evident in the Freudian formulation of psychoanalysis and in the construction of enclosed spaces such as the nuclear family, the factory, the prison and the clinic. 11 The great confinement was essential to this process of reorganization of power in the interests of an emerging industrial capitalism. Thus the fluids which were circulating outside and between bodies, are folded onto themselves in order to be channeled within the solid walls of the organism/self/subject.
Hierarchy and classification, however, are not the only ways to define the organism. Not only does discipline involve a taxonomic space of classification and individuated differences (it produces subjects and selves), but also presents a bio-physical pattern through which the organism came to be conceived as homeostatic, borrowing energy from the Outside, from the fluids translated and “deadened into the ‘constancy’ required to give [them] form”. 12 The thermodynamics of the disciplined body moves beyond the reversible time of Newtonian causality towards irreversibility and stability. The thermodynamic organism survives in equilibrium, which it maintains by engulfing energy from Outside its semi-closed cycle. This energy needs, then, to be discharged because its irreversible increase (entropy) threatens to destroy the organism. The organism must ward off death constantly by charging and releasing the energy thus accumulated: nothing must be dissipated, everything must be used up and discharged once it has exhausted its function.
The organism was not so much produced as reinforced and given strength by the disciplinary society so that it could become the ultimate definition of what a body is. The body becomes abstracted and organised so that it can be trained: trained to reproduction within a thermodynamic cycle of accumulation and expenditure; and trained to work. The incorporation of fluids into a solid state also responds to the released energy of labour: the capacities of a body become subjected to the exploitation of its labour force . 13 The enclosures of disciplining apparatuses (the Foucauldian dispositif of power) are complementary to the deterritorializing movements of Capital. Discipline centralises the blockages and segments of the body, intensifies its reactive forces and delimits its function to a molar order. And yet, some forms of energy cannot be used or recycled by the system. Even when pushed outside they increase and turn into the threat of ultimate destruction: the universe moves towards heat-death and capitalism similarly towards the ultimate explosion of the revolutionary energies, the revolution of the proletariat.
Although the Hegelian Marx explained the inevitability of the revolution in terms of the unfolding of the dialectic, a thermodynamic analysis of industrial capitalism (the triumph of discipline) points to the intrinsic mechanics of such outbursts. According to the second law of thermodynamics in any moving or energy-using system entropy (useless forms of energy) increases. The second law of thermodynamics, conceived during the Industrial Revolution, affirmed that in systems undergoing change, such as steam engines or electronic motors, a certain amount of energy is already unavailable for useful work. Thus, although the amount of energy in the system and its environment stays the same (i.e., the first law of thermodynamics, of conservation of energy, holds), the amount of energy available to do work decreases and entropy, as heat, noise and uncertainty, increase. 14
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan define entropy as a form of energy which is not useful for work, which cannot be utilised by the machine of industrial capitalism, as embodied (as usual) by its technologies.
In steam engines, coal was burned in carbon joined with oxygen, a reaction that, generating heat, made machine parts move. The left-over heat that was generated was unusable. The heat in a cabin on a snow-covered mountain seeks with seeming purpose any available crack or opening to mix with the cold air outside. Heat naturally dissipates. This dissipative behavior of heat illustrates the second law: the universe tends an increase in entropy, toward even temperatures everywhere, as all the energy transforms into useless heat spread so evenly that it can do no work. [our emphasis] 15
Entropy is energy which cannot be reabsorbed back into the industrial social machine; it is energy which becomes a threat to the disciplinary order once it is pushed outside its walls. Heat-death was not just the end of the universe in a far, far future; it was the necessary tendency of industrial capitalism, in as much as it had failed to use all the available energy, all the available flows, all the capacities of a body.
Within a thermodynamic system, entropy is inevitable, it does not matter how efficiently the organism performs its charge/discharge cycle. Thermodynamics is a law of nature on which industrial capitalism built a technological, economic and biosocial order. The centrality of thermodynamic principles to its technological machines and its organization of the social body means that the entirety of the social order constructed by industrial capitalism was affected by its implications. It is not only the universe which one day will run towards heat-death, but also the social order which builds itself on thermodynamic principles. The threat of entropy was real to the natural and political sciences of industrial capitalism, it was a problem that needed a solution. This solution was temporarily and partially provided by the female body, whose subordination to reproduction came to guarantee the return to stability and completion of the cycle through a new beginning. The organism can reproduce itself only through the female body under the laws of filiative reproduction thus turning the latter into the fluid Outside which in turn lends energy to the thermodynamic cycle. At the same time as it wards off entropy, however, the female body also becomes the place of noise and heat, the site of, simultaneously, death and life . 16 Irigaray affirms that: “both by her and for her, the invisible work of death goes on. Relentlessly, woman reconnects the end to the beginning, though the end and the beginning are not hers. (Re)calling death in utero”. 17
This process is far from being a simple question of the construction of the body, an external superimposition on an original, playful heterogeneity. Quite the contrary, it marks a singular and historical perception of the body which is simultaneously defined and labored through processes of affection. The double movement of knowledge and power displays such processes and indicates the microphysical exercise of power on some aspects of the body. During the modern period, this body acquires a scientific denomination which is not simply ideological. Rather, our analysis of the disciplinary formation sees a deployment of the biological and physical layers that constitute a human body. On the plane of organization, the thermodynamic organism displays a high level of stratification including the transformation of substantial material, chemical elements and compounds which produce its cellular and organic environment. The organism is determined by consciousness and is the place where consciousness operates. It is the most visible and molar aspect of the human body. Stemming from the perception of a whole (at a distance), the organism is only one of the possible manifestations of a body. In some of the most famous pages of A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari describe the organism as a strata on the Body Without Organs[BwO]; the organism is “a phenomenon of accumulation, coagulation and sedimentation that, in order to extract useful labor from the BwO, imposes upon it forms, functions, bonds, dominant and hierarchized organizations, organized transcendences.” 18
The organism is a reassuring answer to our historically persistent need for individuation, but it is also the source of anxieties about death which the circle of reproduction does not quite manage to solve. This is evident in Freud’s formulation of the pleasure principle, where the complementarity of Eros and Thanatos is turned into an affirmation of the necessary link between life and death. Eros and Thanatos, according to Freud, are two energetic drives one directed towards life, the other towards death. Elizabeth Grosz explains how Freud derived the dynamics of the death drive from Fechner’s constancy principle so as to demonstrate that the organism keeps the quantity of energy or excitation as low as possible. In so doing it never approaches death and keeps it low enough so as not to “overstimulate” the organism which will release the excessive energy that would otherwise accumulate. This marks the entropic tendency internally directing the organism, gradually forcing it towards death. The pleasure principle involves both Eros and Thanatos, it ties them together by ensuring both reproduction and the finitude of the individual: “The pleasurable sexual activities of individuals are closely linked to the reproduction of the species, and the reproduction of the species is contingently dependent on the life, reproduction and death of individuals. Sexuality introduces death into the world.” 19 The pleasure principle turns death into the end which needs to be carried through in order for a new cycle, a new beginning to start. Death is the irreversible line of the finitude of the organism (entropy), a specific organization of a body and one which guarantees individuation, reproduction, and taxonomy.
Heat-death, the final triumph of entropy, is both a scientific hypothesis about the end of the universe, a way to organise sexual relationships and a tendency of industrial capitalism. Entropy indicates an incapacity of industrial capitalism to absorb all the energies it has generated and the inevitability of death as an attribute of the individual as organism. It is the combination of these two anxieties which eventually called for the end of the disciplinary order. It is impossible to underestimate the role of the capitalist tendency towards the overcoming of its limits in spelling the end of the disciplinary formation. The thermodynamic order became not only an inefficient way of organising production, but also a dangerous one that eventually unleashed its destructive powers in the great bloodbaths of the first half of the twentieth century: the colonial uprisings, the communist revolutions, the world wars, and, finally, the atomic bomb.
Turbulent Matters: Cybernetics, Chaos And The Control Of Origins
There is obviously more to the body than the organism: in Spinozian terms what makes a body is always a relation of forces between bodies, and a dynamic capacity of affecting and being affected. This is an intensive body never attaining a final state, or a defined form or function.
A body is not defined by the form that determines it nor as a determinate substance or subject nor by the organs it possesses or the functions it fulfills. On the plane of consistency, a body is defined only by a longitude and a latitude:in other words the sum total of the material elements belonging to it under given relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness (longitude): the sum total of the intensive affects it is capable of at a given power or degree of potential (latitude). Nothing but affects and local movements, differential speeds. 20
If discipline is about the molding of fluids into solid, hierarchical and thermodynamic formations, control is about the management of these speeds and capacities of affection, in other words it is about the management of flows: “Confinement are molds, different moldings, while controls are a modulation,like a self-transmuting molding continually changing from one moment to the next, or like a sieve whose mesh varies from one point to another.” 21 The autonomous, disciplined cells of the factory, the prison and the school, the great models of the society of disciplines, are increasingly opened up and diffused to the outside. As Brian Massumi puts it
A “crisis of enclosure” has occurred (the “crises” long heralded in the media, among which the “breakdowns” of the family, of the judicial and prison subsystems, and of the school subsystems figure prominently). When the walls come down, disciplinary command functions are not dismantled, but rather released. They disseminate and vary, coming to be even more finely distributed and multiplied, and life channelings into even more intimate embrace. 22
The shift from a disciplined, thermodynamic body to a controlled, turbulent body is a historical event, thoroughly entangled in the difference between the modern and the postmodern formations. Such difference should not be understood as a clean break: obviously the traces of the disciplinary society (as well as of what preceded it) are still operational within the current historical moment. However, we could argue that to emphasise the coexistence of different historical strata within a given moment is different than hanging on to the notion of ‘tradition’, development and evolution within which the question of continuity is usually framed. In The Archaelogy of Knowledge, Michel Foucault exposes the tendency to use continuity as a way to neutralise change and the necessity to think about each historical moment as an event which needs to be understood and problematised each time. The difference between discipline and control is about the way in which heterogeneous discursive and non-discursive elements are assembled in a specific moment, each element constituted in its turn by a multiplicities of micro-relations whose genealogy stretches through time. Our work, then, is not directed at the establishment of an all encompassing framework which totalises the heterogeneity of historical formations. We are interested in constructing maps which are based on the individuation of a “tendency”, an abstraction based on an observable mutation in the way control, power and knowledge are reconfigured in capitalist technoscience.
It could be argued that the thermodynamic body was already moving away from the realm of representation. It was already considered as a field of forces, but in the opposition of the inside to the outside based on a constant balance and tendency towards death, the body resulted enclosed into the organism (the organization of organs) aiming at reproduction and return to equilibrium. It is with the emergence of complexity theory that disequilibrium becomes a principle of reality. Rather than a return to the primary cause according to a linear development which regulates the origins of life, the perception of a body through complexity theory and molecular biology involves a break with its physiology. In these terms, a body no longer corresponds to the fleshy representation or phenomenon of the human subject, but rather is opened up to particles, waves and attractors, which constitute it as far from equilibrium system. What is perceived of the body is the movement of forces, the process of composition of differential elements which defines the origin of life as turbulent rather than derived from entropic collapse. In contemporary technoscience, lethal entropy becomes vital turbulence.
As we have seen, the overcoming of the limits of industrial capitalism was a necessity if one wanted to avoid the heat-death which threatened from all sides the capitalist societies in the first half of the twentieth century.Cybernetics, the science of the ‘system’, was obviously central to the material processes through which societies started to dissolve the disciplinary walls and manage the dangers of heat-death. The shift from the disciplinary society to the society of control passes through cybernetics, while not being just determined by cybernetics. While scientific fields such as complexity theory, chaos theory and connectionism are all concerned with this reabsorption of entropy into turbulence, it is cybernetics which translates these speculations into problems of control.
In the first instance, early cybernetics warded off entropy and clung onto the organism by focussing on homeostasis. Norbert Wiener’s work witnesses the existentialist twist of early cybernetics: life is a struggle against disorganization, chaos, and death. In order to save life from heat-death, the cybernitician constructs ‘an enclave of organization in the face of nature’s overwhelming tendency to disorder’ 23. First wave cybernetics, brought into life by the shock of world war violence, is paranoid about the questions of boundaries, but confident about its mastery of them. Control is homeostasis, it is the negative feedback of a system/organism which reacts to the stimuli coming from the outside as a threat. The homeostat is “an electrical device constructed with transducers and variable resistors, [which] when it received an input changing its state, searched for the configuration of variables that would return it to its initial conditions.” 24 This early cybernetic control is therefore still permeated by the thermodynamic principles which contemporary technoscience has largely displaced. As with the thermodynamic, entropic organism the stabilisation of the internal self, the defense of a system against the forces of entropy is paramount.
This means that early cybernetics managed but did not solve the problem of entropy: the early cybernetic system is reactive to entropy, it does not incorporate it as a principle of active generation of difference. In order for the useless work of entropy to become useful, entropy had to be worked on directly not just managed as an outside force. Katherine N. Hayles maps the trajectory of entropy from a thermodynamic, deterministic universe to a cybernetic, probabilistic one through scientists such as Ludwig Baltzmann, Leon Brillouin to the father of modern information theory, Claude Shannon.
Ludwig Baltzmann accomplishes the first passage by separating entropy from its exclusive relation with heat engines and thermodynamic systems. In his theory, entropy becomes the equivalent of randomness, a concept which is more compatible with the contemporary shift to cybernetics. At the same time as Wiener was popularising his understanding of cybernetic systems as islands in a sea of entropy, Claude Shannon was reincorporating entropy into its theory of information. Reversing the trend established by Leon Brillouin who had defined information as negative entropy (negentropy), Claude Shannon “identified information and entropy rather than opposed them. Heuristically, Shannon’s choice was explained by saying that the more unexpected (or random) a message is, the more information it conveys.” 25
Early cybernetics’ stance against entropy was doomed in the long run. A system without entropy, a system which pushes entropy (in this new sense of randomness and noise) to the outside is bound to be too rigid to fit with the development of a socius which was increasingly dependent on the mobility and randomness of its social, cultural and biological components. The function of the disciplinary society was to establish islands of order on and against the undisciplined social body. However, there is only so much surplus value you can extract out of disciplined bodies within anti-entropic institutions, and while you do that, entropy keeps increasing. The orderly world of the factory, the prison, the school and asylum ensures a constant, dependable output, but does not leave much space for expansion, mutation and transformation. Its manageability and its specific capacity to organise a world which is cut out from entropic randomness are also its long-term flaws. Second-wave cybernetics, exemplified by the work of Varela and Maturana, eschews the problem of randomness and entropy altogether by concentrating instead on autopoietic systems. This mid-cybernetics starts from a system which closes down on itself and is completely engaged in its own self production. Autopoiesis insisted that the only purpose of systems is “to produce and reproduce the organization that defines them as systems. Hence they not only are self-organising but also are autopoietic or self-making…” 26 Autopoeitic units have “as their only goal the continuing production of their autopoiesis.” 27 Structural coupling encompasses the possibility of communication between systems (a cell within the body), but it is self-production and the capacity to function autopoietically which gives second wave cybernetics its identity . 28
Autopoiesis however does not account enough for transformation and complexification in as much as it is still about organisms. Systems self-organise by establishing closure, but this closure is only one of the moments of life and one which will become less and less interesting for contemporary technoscience. Preservation of “vivified matter in the face of adversity and a universal tendency toward disorder” 29 is too conservative a goal for bio-cybernetic capital.
It becomes clear, then, how the question of entropy needed to be rethought in order to access the level of indefinite production which is desired by capital and the forces unleashed by its historical development. Entropy ceases to be a threat to life and is displaced by a principle of universalised production able to engender and organise endless difference – a line between order and disorder, between predictability and chaos. If classical thermodynamics was concerned with “structures of decreasing complexity – machines that lose the capacity for work… non equilibrium thermodynamics studies entities, including living beings, which increase their complexity and gain a capacity for work.” 30 Shannon’s move of retaining a connection between entropy and information was a “crucial crossing point, for this allowed entropy to be reconceptualised as the thermodynamic motor driving systems to self-organization rather than as the heat engine driving the world to universal heat-death…as a result, chaos went from being associated with dissipation in the Victorian sense of dissolute living and reckless waste to being associated with dissipation in a newly positive sense of increasing complexity and new life.” 31
Entropy, a child of the heat engine, will be partially reabsorbed by turbulence. The passage from the entropic drive to turbulence is central to the study of dissipative or far from equilibrium systems. In particular, Prigogine and Stengers’ hypothesis on the origins of the universe reworks the Epicurian intuition about the emergence of the material world through the clinamen (or “swerve”): “a declining arrow of time” . 32 In pre-Socratic philosophy the clinamen is “the smallest angle by which an atom deviates from a straight line.” 33 When atoms fall through the void, according to Lucretius, they deviate slightly from their course. This deviation (clinamen) is the generator of differential energy and matter, an anti-Platonic ontology of becoming.
Epicurus clinamen appeared repeatedly in the science of our century, although always in relation to some kind or another of determinism. In chaos theory, however, the clinamen was paid crucial attention in as much as it helped to formulate the principles of a probabilistic, non-deterministic science through the laws of physics. The irreversible time of entropy pointed to heat-death as the ultimate end of the universe. The irreversible time of the clinamen (the arrow of time) is, on the contrary, a source of order. The arrow of time does not create disorder but a different type of order, unpredictable, yet coherent – a fluid and turbulent order. In Hermes Michel Serres takes on Epicurian philosophy and science to demonstrate “the link between the clinamen as a generative differential element, and the formation of vortices and turbulences in so far as they occupy engendered smooth space; in fact the atom of the ancients, from Democritus to Lucretius, was always inseparable from a hydraulics, or a generalised theory of swells and flows. The ancient atom is entirely misunderstood if it is overlooked that its essence is to course and flow.” [our emphasis] 34
Rather than an ultimate collapse of the universe, we are confronting an indefinite and discontinuous process of production, where nothing gets lost or wasted, but everything becomes useful. Organisms decay because they are molar organizations of molecular life, which always works, always produces. What appears unuseful at the molar level of the organism looks different from the perspective of the molecular: we do not know what it is doing exactly, but that is no longer important, because the important thing is that it is doing it. This molecular order of the clinamen operates beyond the thermodynamic logic of the industrial apparatus: it cannot be controlled by enclosure, solidification, charge and discharge. It does not die and it is not born. In turning heat-death and entropic collapse into an unpredictable yet indefinitely mutating process, the noise and uncertainty of female flows no longer drive the self-reproductive cycle to finitude, but open up possibilities of infinite production. The search for origins which drives the patriarchal economy has undermined the notion of origins as a whole; there is no origin and no end just female flows emerging out of turbulent motions and imperceptible speed. This infinitely productive energy-matter which cannot be calculated, but only orientated towards an optimised reproduction, is the space where control tries out its new strategies.
The difficulties for feminism lie in the fact that female flows are not attributes of the organism and therefore of the woman’s body. They are not defined by organization but by relations of matter and energy. Female flows escape the sex/gender organization of the body produced by the economy which sets up the self, the subject, the organism and the thermodynamic cycle of masculine pleasure (charge and discharge). The price to pay (and the challenge to feminism) is that a woman’s body does not guarantee access to turbulence. Yet, at the same time, historically and biologically in a certain sense it always has: there is an affinity (not an identity) between turbulence and the female body. This affinity, in fact, is both the historical result of woman’s confinement outside the thermodynamic cycle and her association with randomness, noise and death; and a matter of essence, which is not defined by the biology of forms and functions but by an ethics of turbulence and becoming. A female essence is an immanent mode of existence.
These intricate connections between ancient philosophy, technoscience and sex confirm our hypothesis about the centrality of turbulence and fluid dynamics to the operations of bio-cybernetic capitalism. Again it is not a matter of how nature is discursively constructed, but how historical formations of power relate to different levels of matter/energy through an intensification of perception and experimentation (as will be further demonstrated by our analyses of artificial life and genetic engineering).
It is not by chance that turbulence and flows are also increasingly central to the functioning of bio-cybernetic capital. The space of flows described by Manuel Castells is a flexible and yet hierarchical organization of space based on circuits of electronic impulses, nodes, hubs and the circulating elites. 35 The most volatile of these global flows, those of money, have the most intimate relationship with turbulence. On the one hand they are notoriously subjected to the unpredictability of turbulence; on the other hand they increasingly work through turbulence even by investing in it. Through venture capital, money looks for profitable innovations within fluidity, moving away from the solid state of planning and calculated risks to the hazardous, short-term world of upstart companies and emerging trends. It is not by chance that in this historical moment the decoded flows of capitalism show a marked preference for biotechnology labs and high tech firms, that is, for example, for a type of technoscience which makes fluidity, molecules and turbulence its central concern.
This movement towards turbulence (as a way out of the entropic blasts of the first half of the twentieth century) cannot be simply celebrated as some kind of liberation of life from the shackles of discipline. The shift to turbulence inaugurates new strategies of control, strategies which might appear even more insidious because they seem directed at the most intimate levels (the fluid state of matter, the smallest particles of cellular life). As Deleuze puts it, however, ” [I]t’s not a question of asking whether the old or new systems is harsher or more bearable, because there is a conflict in each between the way they free and enslave us… It’s not a question of worrying or of hoping for the best, but of finding new weapons.” 36
Control Without Control: Artificial Life
As we have argued, it is within cybernetics that general questions about entropy, chaos and turbulence are redefined as problems of control. Third-wave cybernetics is identified with new fields such as artificial life and more generally with bottom-up approaches stressing the production of ever-increasing levels of complexity out of the recursive combination of simple elements and rules. Third-wave cybernetics has taken on the consequences of the arrow of time which has identified a tendency of matter to self-organise in an unpredictable, yet coherent order. Characteristically, the latest developments in cybernetics show a marked preoccupation with the implications of this unpredictability for control. Popular accounts of such developments formulate the dilemmas engendered by third-wave cybernetics as the paradox of control without control. 37
The field of artificial life (also known as ALife) has been central to this re-elaboration. ALife is quoted as further proof of the existence of self-organising processes which cross the entirety of social, natural and technological production, regardless of context. ALife is exemplary of the third wave of cybernetic thought, a field which incorporates and synthesises approaches coming from chaos theory, evolutionary biology and population ecology. 38
Computer scientists working in the field have to defend themselves from accusations that the computer cannot generate life because life is a property of carbon-based, aquatic life. Their experiments are therefore often dismissed as mere simulations of an authentic organic life. As we have said, however, turbulence is an absolute dynamic of matter/energy which can and does cross the boundaries of organic life. The origins of terrestrial life are watery, but fluidity is the essence of water. The question then is go beyond the real/unreal dichotomy of common understanding of simulation and conceptualise ALife as a specific instantiation of turbulence within a specific technical machine.
The current interest in simulations of biological life within computer science is part of the generalised rejection of the second law of thermodynamics, that is of entropy as the prevalence of disorder and death over life. ALife is then part of the increasing obsession of contemporary technoscience for the questions of origins, which these scientists have decided to tackle through the computer. As Levy puts it, “[j]ust as medical scientists have managed to tinker with life’s mechanisms in vitro, the biologists and computer scientists of ALife hope to create life in silico.” 39 ALife practitioners use simulations of biological life to evolve patterns, images, programs and more generally to formulate new strategies of control which are more adequate to the liquid space of informational capitalism. ALife tackles the question of turbulence by trying out strategies of control which operate like the Deleuzian modulations, like a self-transmuting molding continually changing from one moment to the next, or like a sieve whose mesh varies from one point to another.” 40 These modulations operate on an artificial smooth space “constituted by the minimum angle which deviates from the vertical, and by the vortex, which overspills striation.” 41
Central to ALife is the belief in the existence of processes of self-organization which produce a dynamic, evolutionary complexity against the odds of Wiener’s cybernetic entropy. Although ALife is a diverse project, involving a variety of fields and experiments, there are certain principles that seem to hold true. The basic principle is that life is “a property of the organization of matter rather than a property of the matter which is so organised.” 42 The essential features of computer-based ALife models, in Christopher Langton’s definition are:
They consist of population of simple programs or specifications; there is no single program that directs all of the other programs; each programs details the way in which a simple entity reacts to local situations; there are no rules in the system that dictate global behavior; and any behavior at levels higher than the individual program is therefore emergent. 43
What distinguishes the first two cybernetics from the ALife, then, is the latter’s attempt to imagine a decentralised, potentially open model of self-organization which does not aim so much at reproducing itself as generating difference through self-organization. This difference is not so much produced as it is said to emerge out of a problem space or genetic space. The concept of emergence, therefore, takes the place of homeostasis (first wave cybernetics) and auto-poiesis (second wave). Emergence “implies that properties or programs appear on their own, often developing in ways not anticipated by the person who created the simulation.” 44 This usually happens by ways of “complex feedback loops in which the outputs of a system are repeatedly fed back in as input. As the recursive looping continues, small deviations can quickly become magnified, leading to the complex interactions and unpredictable evolutions associated with emergence.” 45
These complex feedback loops are the means through which deviations are generated, therefore putting in motions the turbulent machine of life that we have identified above; life does not tend towards entropy but towards deviation, mutation and variation leading to increased levels of complexity. These levels of complexity are often not pursued just for complexity’s sake, but they are directed at what they define as a second level of emergence, that which adds functionality to the system. ALife looks for searching devices able to roam over the problem/genetic space relentlessly looking for new forms and functional entities.
There are different types of ALife experiments: Cellular Automata (CAs), genetic algorithms (GAs), autonomous agents, mobotics, and ecological models such as Tierra are the main models in development today. Although they all work with this notion of emergence, the degree of control is differently modulated according to the goals of a specific research project. Genetic algorithms exemplify the strongest mode of control: the programmer select a fitness function that determines the survival of the individual programs. The latter are made of chunks that correspond to genes that together make up the programs’ genome. They have specific tasks to accomplish and they are rated on the basis of how well they perform them; the fittest programs are then reinserted in the ALife model until an optimal performance is achieved. 46 More recent experiments in Alife include the simulation of population of “ants”, autonomous agents able to manage huge distributed systems like telecommunication networks. British Telecom, who is currently managing its network through a single powerful program called Customer Service System (CSS), has been involved in sponsoring ALife projects that could eventually replace the latter with lots of autonomous, smaller programs comparable to ants.
All these different strands, however, insists that self-organisation from below is an exportable quality and the best way to manage complex system and/or produce continuous innovations. This self-organization is not autopoiesis, it does not tend towards closure. Self-organization opens up to turbulence in as much as it relies on an understanding of genetic/problem space as a liquid space, a space which is therefore subjected to the power not of entropy but of turbulence. ALife occurs in an area “where information changed but not so rapidly that it lost all connection to where it had just been previously. This was akin to a liquid state. Langton discovered that it was the liquid regime that supported the most engaging events, those that would support the kind of complexity that was the mark of living systems.” 47 ALife is then based on a simulation of liquid space, it recreates the condition of fluidity and is therefore an experiment in the management of flows in ways which resonate with the post-disciplinary society of control described by Gilles Deleuze. The smooth space as outlined by Deleuze is a simulated liquid space, which offers the advantage of not trapping life within rigid structures or dissolving it into the menacing randomness of entropy.
How does ALife channel the productive flows of turbulence? It is impossible to deny that turbulence does operate within ALife systems, it does produce difference which is not specifically programmed into them. This difference belongs to the middle space of turbulence, which typically takes place beyond the conscious perception of the experimenter. Typically, the ALife scientist sets up its experiment by introducing a limited number of programs and a set of simple rules and leaves the program running. When he returns, the miracle of turbulence has occurred and he wakes up to the spectacle of its unpredictable yet coherent order: his computer has been populated by a whole ecology of artificial life forms beyond his wildest expectations.
This middle, dark space of turbulence gives ALife research its mystical tone. However, the mysterious work of turbulence emerges in the middle of a recursive process, between a carefully set up “before” and “after”. When the experiment is first set up, a series of rules are introduced, specific types of programs are picked and a certain acceleration is imparted to the system. The experimenter, then, must be very careful in preparing the ground for turbulence in ways which guarantee that what he will find in the morning is not completely unexpected. This moment of pre-selection of elements and rules is the moment of simulation. Simulation should not be understood as an element of unreality, it is not the unreal. Simulation is a specific mode of exercise of power which, as William Bogard explains, is based on “anticipation and perfect deterrence.” 48 In ALife, however, simulation is used to produce the unexpected, which could seem as a contradiction in terms since the former seems to work by way of a pre-selection of limited scenarios. In this case, however simulation learns to become flexible by choosing variation as one of its components and by learning to reincorporate the products of this variation through an internal and recursive feedback loop.
If simulation lies before turbulence and prepares the conditions for its controlled occurrence, a transcendent fitness function is what operates at the end of the cycle before the beginning of a new loop. In GAs experiments, the results of the moment of turbulence are selectively reintroduced into the simulation on the basis of their aimed functionality. The fastest, smallest, more efficient creatures are privileged for reinsertion into the loop, at the beginning of the simulation, and fed back into turbulence once again. The potential results of such a process are applications which can be used practically, such as more efficient software programs which are evolved rather than written by programmers.
One of the strongest models of ALife, then, introduce control into the liquid space by setting up a transcendent fitness function and a system of rewards for successful organisms: in this sense the Deleuzian image of the “sieve whose mesh vary each time” seems particular resonant . 49 If ALife reproduces a liquid space as a genetic space, then it is easy to see the fitness function as that particular mesh used to select functional from dysfunctional organisms. ALife has been often criticised on the basis of its explicit reliance on neo-darwinist understandings of evolution and natural selection. Neo-Darwinism privileges a transcendent principle of selection which is almost external and finalised to the reproduction of the fittest (a notorious ally of social Darwinism). It is not by chance that genetic algorithms, which are directly inspired by evolutionary theory, take the gene, rather than the whole cell, as their main model: as we will see, nucleic DNA is the most hierarchical and stratified component of the cell, the most easy to bestow with the competitive individuality that is the mark of neo-Darwinism and genetic algorithms. Obviously, there is not just external selection in ALife, the moment of turbulence in the middle operates its own selective pressures whose workings are less easy to determine. However, in the more controlled ALife experiments this internal selection is eventually incorporated in the transcendent function.
There is a double movement operating in ALife: on the one hand there is a return to origins, a rejection of entropy and an embrace of turbulence as the dynamic engine of life; on the other hand there is an attempt to reduce turbulence to a generalised system of rules (“Much progress could be made by determining what laws nature laid out, by programming these laws and allowing lifelike behavior to emerge in applying those algorithms”). 50 This tension has become even more apparent in the last few years, when the limitations of using fitness functions has become more apparent. An external, transcendent fitness function is appropriate when dealing with specific problems, but where control needs to be exercised on huge, distributed networks, even the former appears too inflexible. 51 And yet, telecommunications companies cannot quite bring themselves to trust the total immanence of turbulence: who can trust a population of small, autonomous, self-evolving programs loose in the network? Innovation and adaptation, turbulence and control rest uneasily together, still quite unable to settle in a definite form, even as variable as the mesh.
Molecular assemblages: a clone is not a copy
In spite of ALife cult status in cybercultural circles, molecular biology and genetic engineering are by far the most well-known and controversial examples of the current technoscientific engagement with the question of the origins. Experiments in cloning have caused widespread panic and a flush of legislation against what is perceived as a scientific interference with the integrity of life. The legacy of disciplinary science survives in molecular biology as a further development of biopower and its interest in producing and regulating life. Whereas traditionally biopower is reactive to death and the finitude of the organism, the developments inscribed in molecular biology turn against the organism and its entropic drive in order to emphasise the productive and heterogeneous processes of life. In this sense we can talk of a total subsumption of life to capital (no energy is lost to death, nothing escapes the circuit of production).
The most well known aspect of molecular biology is its interest in genetic material. Molecular biology has abstracted the specific organization of a body from taxonomic knowledge and has drawn the genetic continuum line among species without accounting for types or degrees of variation (orders of magnitude). Taxonomic knowledge focused on grades of development and classified already individuated beings on the basis of types of forms: for example human beings are part of a bigger species called mammals, which are differentiated from birds; within mammals, human beings differ from primates because the latter are supposed to be less developed in the taxonomic chain of beings which culminates with homo sapiens. Molecular biology, on the other hand, concentrates on populations of codes and movements of territorialization. The type becomes the population and populations relate to each other through differential relations on a territory. In this new conception, human beings are no longer a specific type and no longer relate to other species in terms of degrees of development.
For example, molecular biology and biochemistry have challenged the traditional distinction between plant and animal kingdom and the classification based on this division, in favour of the more fundamental difference in life between eukaryotes (cells with nuclei, among which mitochondria and, in the case of algae and plants, plastids) and prokaryotes, also called monera or bacteria (cells without membrane-bound nucleus). 52 This shift gives new centrality to nucleic DNA, which is recognised as a unidimensional line crossing species boundaries. Jacques Monod famously quipped that from the point of view of the DNA there is no difference between an elephant and a nucleated bacterium (Escheria Choli): as with ALife, the same code peoples diverse organisms. On the one hand this centrality of the DNA to molecular biology can (and has been) seen as a new reductionism of the heterogeneity of life to code; on the other hand it can also be seen as a positive moment of dissolution of species boundaries. However these positions are based on a partial misunderstanding of the function of the bounded DNA within the cell. Nucleic DNA is a macro-molecule, a hierarchical structure within the cell, caught in a chain of command with RNA and proteins, but is far from being responsible for the entire process of genetic inheritance, mutation and variation . 53
The abstract body of molecular biology presents the emergence and development of a genetic complexity which is not limited to the double helix. Although the universal code of DNA crosses species boundaries, it does not exclusively account for the genetic complexity of cellular and extra-cellular life which appears increasingly crucial to molecular engineering. The double helix is less to be conceived as the sole component of genetic complexity than as the organizing inductor of cellular life. The study of the emergence and development of genetic assemblages has presented a major deviation from Darwinian and neo-darwinian emphasis on the external machine of natural selection and survival of the fittest gene.
The eucaryotic assemblage reveals that the nucleic DNA presents an articulation of genetic and substantial elements which renders it independent of them but at the same time constituted by them. As a matter of fact, the operation of proteic synthesis appears defined by the line DNA/RNA/Protein, but on a molecular level it is determined by proteic production, which Deleuze and Guattari call the “molecular unconscious” of the reproductive DNA. The linearity of the DNA/RNA/protein chain presents a machinery of genetic transcription and translation of information where the DNA appears as the “master molecule”, presuming the molar expression of the self. However it is the proteins who are the labor force of the cell, who carry out the real work which is only induced and organised by the DNA. Similarly, the central function attributed to DNA in the action of fertilization results secondary to the embryogenetic developments and differentiation of parts of an egg cell. Whereas before, nucleic DNA was considered to be the veritable organizer, deciding the destiny of parts, it has been later understood that other genetic substances carry out a similar function and that the parts in a cell have themselves specific abilities and potentials for development unknown to the DNA. Thus, the stimulating and organizing function of DNA results in a mere induction, whose nature is a matter of indifference. 54 It is not an individuated DNA which determines development but a relation between different bodies within and outside the cell. Selective pressures are immanent to the symbiotic process of combinations of molecular entities hinging on a multiplicity of relations and affects. This has consequences for the principle of natural selection as understood in Darwinism and neo-Darwinism: mutations are not random occurrences which are then selected by an external force but are already guided by an immanent and creative selective pressure. 55
Nucleic DNA, then, is a master molecule, it possesses traits of segmented molarity, but it is not in absolute control of the cell. Rather it relies on an active assemblage of other cellular elements who do not just simply obey the DNA dictates, but transform them according to a turbulent motion. Nucleic DNA is not in charge but is part of a turbulent assemblage and is also turbulent itself. Jacob talked about genetic drifting, the annexed connection among codes which is not imposed by linear movements of genetic inheritance and reproduction. 56 Both beneath and across the strata of the organism, fluid dynamics and molecular life display a different mode of existence of a body, one that exceeds the thermodynamic cycles of finitude trapping the organism. Molecular life, however, is not the unconscious, the pre-Oedipal, or Freud’s death drive towards inorganic life; it is not a regression to a less developed layer of organization. The molecular level of the micro explored by molecular biology is not only as complex as the macro (indeed as Prigogine argues, it is the multiplicity that makes up the macro), but is also very far from being a power-free zone of playful exchange. Indeed, the fluidity of the micro is the level at which more recent strategies of control are excercised. Control works on elements that already exists within the cell, but it does not determine the outcome of the process in any strictly deterministic way.
The turbulent, and yet segmented organization of nucleic DNA is, in fact, of crucial concern to genetic engineering, a technoscientific development which echoes third-wave cybernetics in its rechanneling of turbulence through control. This is particularly evident in the controversial experiments on mammal cloning, which in 1997 produced the first cloned sheep, Dolly.
Mammal cloning simulates the embryological development of a multicellular organism. While ALife (following the neo-Darwinists) reduces life to replicating DNA, in this case the whole cell is involved. The levels of Dolly’s cloning follow this pattern: firstly, her udder cell containing the nucleus to be cloned is removed and brought back to a primordial stage (zero degree of growth). This demonstrates how the biological development of cells is neither irreversible nor highly specific insofar as adult cells can be brought back to their virtual plane and reprogrammed for new functions. Meanwhile, from another female sheep X the egg cell has been retrieved, and its haploid nucleus (containing twenty-three XX chromosomes) extracted (only the body of the egg is used to accomplish the cloning). Finally, Dolly’s diploid cell and the egg cell without nucleus undergo a fusion through an electric current. After fusion the egg cell presents a full complement of new DNA (Dolly’s DNA) which at some “non-defined point” starts to divide and grow into an embryo. Such process is still quite obscure: scientists do not yet know how nucleated DNA is activated and reprogrammed by the egg cell. This activation is also called “reprogramming magic”. 57
Mammal cloning simulates the degree zero of the egg cell and leaves turbulence to do the work. After this initial moment of simulation, which the cell answers by regressing to a degree of zero of development, the latter does not obey the scientists’ orders in any deterministic way: there are no specific instructions to follow apart from the embryogenesis of the egg cell itself. We have seen that the cell is not merely constituted by nucleic DNA, replicating along flows of mutation and regularity but is also inhabited by other genetic material, such as the mitochondrial DNA, which participate in a bacterial mode of indefinite proliferation. Mammal cloning suggests that the immanent relations between nucleic and cytoplasmic genetic material within the processes of individuation are synthesised by turbulence.
The level of control instantiated by this technology functions as a process of genetic combination and regulation of the velocities of cellular growth. Control operates as a trickster: the body of the cell is induced to re-program the genetic information of the starved and involuted nucleic DNA. The relation among the molecules of an egg cell is simulated and exposed to the turbulent order of embryogenesis, that is to a coherent yet unpredictable process of becoming. It is out of this process that scientists evaluate the conditions of existence of a body through the unfolding of genetic information and the development of extensive parts: they check whether the cell and the body within it are growing properly, whether there are any anomalies, and in general whether the clone has any chances of survival and development. The basic requirements for a successful cloning are not simply dictated by a transcendent principle of fitness but by an evaluation of the process itself, which is ultimately responsible for the development of the clone.
This evaluation acts as a selection and distribution of endlessly profitable cultures, which do not obey the regime of waste. Even if the experiment is not successful, the scientists still evaluate what has happened, what can be extracted, worked on, and reinserted in other cultures. Nothing is wasted, everything is recycled. These practices are an answer to the ways cellular cultures work; cells are not controllable in the ways prescribed by disciplinary subjectification. They just do not do what is asked of them, but after the initial intervention they need to be left to develop according to their own, unpredictable order. This is why contemporary technoscience needs the highest level of proliferation. It needs innumerable cellular cultures before even a possibility of multicellular life actualises. The mechanisms of this materialisation, however, are not completely known even to the scientists themselves.
This unpredictability is not the same thing as freedom. It is not about the forces of life rebelling against human manipulation. The tendency to order is inherent in matter, but this order is a turbulent one. Turbulence is in the middle, it is a zone of the unexpected, a diagonal line of flight between order and disorder. Control intervenes within this tendency of matter by orienting turbulence towards profitable production. Technoscience wants to make turbulence work for capital, but this means that it has to give the up the absolute control of discipline. Unlike current ALife experiments, the involvement of the whole cellular assemblage makes cloning partake even more of an autonomous turbulent order of production. Dolly emerges out of a long and frustrating process of simulation without warranties and in spite of the hype, she is not the perfect copy of the original sheep: cloning does not reproduce the Same. The turbulent relation between the body of the cell and nucleic DNA guarantees a difference within repetition. Even after selection and development, even under conditions of maximum control, there are no certain results. In 1999, worried scientists announced that their first living clone, Dolly the sheep, is ageing prematurely. Turbulence is unpredictable.
Postscript on turboethics
It is hard to feel nostalgic about discipline, its walls, its reduction of the body to a classified, solid entity trapped in a thermodynamic cycle of charge, discharge and death. Even as discipline was being successfully exported through outsourcing from the West, the relief for its decline was palpable in the early stages of postmodern theory. The latter got drunk on its glimpses of a different age, one based on proliferation, fragmentation, and fluidity and forgot that discipline was a historical formation not the ultimate form of power. Postmodern theory was weak in its understandings of modes of power which did not operate by enclosure, individuation and hierarchy and sometimes misunderstood the collapse of discipline for the end of power as such. Michel Foucault, however, always knew how short-lived the latter was, how it followed on a different mode of power (the sovereign society) and how it was going to be left behind by something else, what Deleuze called the society of control.
The society of control marks a historical mutation of power, a redirection of its attention towards the turbulent levels of matter/energy. The emergence of control can be perceived through science, technology, economics, and culture, even if it is always enmeshed with previous modes of power. We have abstracted and mapped these lines as if they were the results of the internal pressures of capitalist and patriarchal power to continuously remould itself in order to deal with the mutations of the clinamen. The problem of power is a bio-geological question, rather than a psychoanalytic one: it is about fluidity as an immanent mode of matter/energy rather than an internalised pre-Oedipal state of undifferentiated bliss. We should be wary of the tendency to pose fluidity as some kind of ultimate political goal for postmodern cynics; when the disciplinary walls come down and their functions are released on a smooth space, fluidity becomes the field of power, not a safe haven outside it. Fluidity is not just where one ends up, then, happy but washed out after the wreckage of the disciplinarian fathership, but it is where control emerges as an immanent process of rechanneling of turbulent flows.
Our analysis of technoscience shows that knowledge of the mechanics of fluids is fundamental to the elaboration of these strategies of control. These fluids correspond to a female mode of indefinite production, rather than one of simple reproduction of the Same. This quality of the female flows, their capacity to introduce a differential, yet coherent element within production is turned into an inexhaustible source of surplus value and its principles unfolded throughout the entirety of the socius. The mechanics of fluids is key to the larger management of the society of flows.
Feminism has addressed these technoscientific shifts through the cyborg and the matrix, which were introduced as an answer to developments in the field of cybernetics. 58 The cyborg rejoiced in hybridity and transversal alliances, but did not give up the organization of the body through individuality, even if a patchwork one; the matrix emphasised the intrinsic affinity between women and the intricate connections of networked cybernetics, but overlooked the countermovements which were engendering new strategies of control. We are more interested in an approach which moves away from the organised, individuated body and yet pays attention to control.
We have thus embarked on the complex search for this body without organs, that is for a body which is not already configured in terms of identities and selves, no matter how partial they are. Even if it is important to recognise individuation as one of the structures through which power operates, we should remember that it is not its only level. As Antonio Negri puts it, “this is a collective and materialistic horizon: we do not go back to individuality neither as principle nor as value, but as simply an element of the structure of being that continuously unfolds towards and through sociality.” 59 We have learnt from Spinoza that a body is made of particles, assemblages and flows; from Deleuze and Guattari that the subject/organism is just one of the layers on the stratification of a body; and from technoscience that all the different layers of the body can be controlled and directed in innovative ways, even the least stratified. Most of all, we have learned not to identify the forms of control with the overall capacities of a body, which are always unknown but not unknowable. This implies that a productive engagement with turbulence should account for control but also elaborate an ethics of relations of power within a turbulent order. We have to come up with ways of dealing with turbulence that are based on ethics rather than control. As we have seen, control uses turbulence in the interests of profit, it is an intensification of the capitalist drive to overcome its limits and its tendency to increase the weight of dead labor over the vitality of matter/energy. Rather than looking for ways of extracting dead labour out of turbulence, ethics lives in turbulence: it recognises the forces of desire and the economies of its directioning,watches out for blockages, segmentations and subtle modulations. Ethics always starts from a field of pragmatic relations, rather than from a planned set of rules or fitness functions. It is not a transcendent project, a metaphysics of modes and reality, but as Negri puts it, it is something which is inserted into and feeds off the history and politics of singular and collective life. Ethics must “cross the world of imagination and passions in order to turn it into the matter and constituting force of the reconstruction of the worlds” . 60
1. Michel Serres, Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1982): p.102
2. “Hypersea is a physical – or more precisely, biogeophysical- entity, composed of the bodies and fluids of all the land organisms with the nucleus bearing cells (plants, animals, fungi, and protoctists) and their symbionts”. (Mark A. S. McMenamin and Dianna L. S. McMenamin, Hypersea: Life on Land .New York: Columbia University Press, 1994: p.6)
3. In Male Fantasies, Klaus Theweleit summarises psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi’s theory on the relation between femaleness and water. According to Ferenczi, penetration does not exist in acquatic life, because there fertilization takes place through simple contact with exposed, accessible organs: “On land, a battle over water erupted: Ferenczi suggests that females were forced to submit to being penetrated by the erectile penises the males had developed and to be “turned into oceans”. From then on, the female interior was forced to serve as a substitute for the lost acquatic existence. Ferneczi concludes. That “amniotic fluid is a sea that was “introjected”, as it were, into the mother’s body, in which, as embryologist R. Hertwig says, “the delicate, vulnerable embryo carries out movements and swims like a fish in water.” (Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies: Women, Floods, Bodies, History. Cambridge: Polity Press,1987: p.292). Such a perspective turns on its head the symbolic view that sees the sea as standing for the mother: it is actually the other way around: “First comes la mer, then la mere.” (ibidem )
4. James Gleick, Chaos (London: Abacus Press, 1987): p.122
5. See Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Volume 1: The Rise of the Network Society. (Oxford UK and Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell)
6. See Deleuze 1995; Massumi 1998.
7. The practice of exchange of women between men as commodities is foundational to the patriarchal economy of reproduction. Irigaray’s discussion of this economy of exchange draws on Marx’s critique of commodity in Capital Vol. 1, which explains the capitalist order of reproduction and exploitation based on exchange value. However, unlike Marx, Irigaray considers the exchange value as the establishment of the economy of the Same, on the base of which women become commodities (Irigaray 1985a: pp.170-197).
8. See Gilles Deleuze, Negotiation, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press,1995)
9. See Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. Trans. Robert Hurley. (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988); and Antonio Negri Spinoza. (Roma: DeriveApprodi, 1998)
10. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy .Trans. Hugh Tomlinson. (London: Athlone Press,1983): p.39
11. See Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. Trans. by A. Sheridan. (New York: Vintage Books,1994)
12. Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One. Trans. Catherine Porter. (New York: Cornell University Press. 1985): p.115
13. To the process of overcodification of the body into specific individualities corresponds the capitalist movement of abstraction of the labour force. This process of overcodification is less a recoding of already coded flows than a limitation of the circulation and distribution of decodified flows. The concentration of such flows without identity into blocks of masses (i.e., workers, students, patients, prisoners) is indicative of the cycle of reproduction of industrial capitalism. Decodified flows appear trapped within the enclosure of organization resulting into a segmentation of the multiplicities of a body. Such segmentation includes the folding of forces into the Norm of work, money, the father, and sex (see Gilles Deleuze, Foucault. Foreword Paul Bove, trans., (ed) Sean Hand. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1988)
14. See Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What is Life? (New York: Nevromont/Simon and Shuster 1995): p.22
15. Ibid., 23
16. See Theweleit, Male Fantasies.
17. See Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian C. Gill (New York: Cornell University Press,1985): p.146
18. See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi (London: Athlone Press, 1987): pp.158-159
19. Elizabeth Grosz, Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies (London and New York: Routledge,1995): p.201
20. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p.260
21. Deleuze, Negotiations, p.179
22. Brian Massumi, “Requiem for Our Prospective Dead (Toward a Participatory Critique of Capitalist Power)” in Eleanor Kaufman and Kevin Jon Heller (eds), Deleuze and Guattari: New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy and Culture (London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998, pp.40-64): p.57
23. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings. Cybernetics and Society (London: Free Association Books, 1989): p.xiii.
24. Katherine N. Hayles, How We Became Posthuman. Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999): p.65.
26. Ibid., p.11.
27. Ibid., p.141.
28. Gregory Bateson was partially breaking with this model, in as much as he emphasised the pervasiveness of structural couplings throughout natural and social systems.
29. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What is Sex? A Peter N. Nevraumont Book, Italy: Simon and Shuster Editions, 1997), 41.
30. Ibid., 32.
31. Katherine N. Hayles, How We Became Posthuman. 102-103.
32. See Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, Man’s New Dialogue with Nature (New York: Bantham Books, 1984).
33. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p.361.
34. Ibid., p.489.
35. See Manuel Castells, The Network Society.
36. Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations. p.178.
37. See Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World (Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1994).
38. See Hayles, How We Became Posthuman.
39. Steven Levy, Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Computers Meet Biology. New York: Vintage Books,1992): p.5.
40. Deleuze, Negotiations. p.179.
41. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. p.489.
42. Levy, Artificial Life. p.118.
43. Ibid., p.106.
44. Hayles, How We Became Posthuman. p.225.
46. See Michael Ward, Virtual Organisms: The Startling World of Artificial Life (London: Macmillan, 1999).
47. Levy, Artificial Life. p.109.
48. See William Bogard, The Simulation of Surveillance: Hypercontrol in telematic societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
49. ALife practitioners are increasingly polarised between those who favour the introduction of a fitness function from the outside and those who insists that evolution should be left to its own devices, that is that fitness should emerge from the field itself. The lines of separation seem to coincide with the difference between those who aim to produce specific applications for the market (such as those who aim to evolve software programmes) and those who are more concerned with breaking down the standalone computer limitations (such as its sequential characters, the competition for fixed memory and so on) (see Christopher G. Langton, Artificial Life: An Overview. Cambridge, Mass and London, England: The MIT Press, 1995; and Rodney A. Brooks and Pattie Maes (eds), Artificial Life IV: Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems. Boston: MIT press, 1995).
50. Levy, Artificial Life. p.72.
51. It is hard to underestimate how important the computer has been for current scientific understandings of turbulence. After a long period of neglect, thefirst experiments on turbulence, those carried out by Harry Swinney and Jerry Gollub in 1975, used computers to store data about turbulent flows. The computational capacities of the machine allowed the two scientists to dispute Lev D. Landau’s hypothesis that turbulence is just a piling up of competing rhythms (see Gleick, Chaos). In the special effects blockbuster Twister, a group of maverick scientists maps the internal structure of a tornado (the most spectacular of turbulent phenomenon) by sending a computer right into its centre.
52. See Dorion Sagan, “Metametazoa: Biology and Multiplicity” in Incorporations, J. Crary and S. Kwinter (eds), New York: Zone Books, 1992: pp.362/385.
53. See Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Nature of Philosophy of Modern Biology. Trans. Austrin Wainhouse, (London:Collins, 1972).
54. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (London: The Athlone Press, 1983): p.91
55. In order to grasp the operation of selective pressures, it is necessary to mention their active process of synthesis indicated by Deleuze via Nietzsche. Selective pressures are enmeshed with Nietzsche ‘s will to power which determines the relation among forces. The will to power or selection produces a differential to each force in relation. The will to power as a principle does not suppress chance, but, on the contrary, implies it, because without chance it would be neither plastic nor changing. Chance is the bringing of forces into relation, the will to power is the determining principle of this relation.For further insights into an immanent understanding of selection as the Nietzschean will to power see Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy.
56. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. p.53
57. See Elizabeth Pennisi et al, “Will Dolly Send In the Clones?” Science ,Vol. 275, 7 March 1997, pp.1415-1416; and R. C. Lewontin “The Confusion Over Cloning”, New York Review of Books, vol. XLIV, no. 16, Oct.23, 1997.
58. See Donna Haraway Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. (London: FA Books, 1991); and Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones: Digital Women + The New Technoculture. (London: Fourth Estate,1997).
59. Negri, Spinoza, p.200, our translation).
60. Ibid., 123.
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