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Genome Spells Out Future LifeForms as Predicted./


Art and Biolab






We are witnessing a translation between the world of biology and the digital world and back again. The scanning of specific alleles into one of the many DataBanks (i.e. GDB, GSequenceDB, GENBank, EMBL, DDBJ) is creating an on-line source for the codes/semiotic systems that will make Virtual-HomoSapiens/Cyborgs/Clones (our replicants). Literal translation of the Human Genome to a digital format involves the forcing of a metaphor of legible, semiotic translation of the flesh. New paranoia results (as if we didn't have enough fear of the flesh. What are creative visions (science fictions) of the outcome of these type of experiments, past and present? How do we attempt to proceed as an ordinary citizens? Should we expect an escalation of angst and alienation as the concrete modern urban landscape (trouble enough) becomes a postmodern BioPsychic (spellChecked biopsy chic) FleshScape of heterogenetic FreeRange obscurity?

Does this mean that the Surrealists are out of a job... or has surrealist delirium merely been automated (in the surLiteral sense of the word?) Have headless frogs been CompuBred to mock our need to read ourselves into extinction? The powers of reason and repeatability are more highly valued in scientific circles than the powers of the imaginative lark. Nonetheless, cultural imagination is what fuels the faddish search for the veiled abscesses of human understanding. Perhaps humanity, as a species, has inherited the ability to envision hybrids and chimeras, monsters and mutations, alchemical language (magic words) and new competitive hurdles to remain well situated in the gene pool. Genetics is only a furtherance of these goals into the realm of new media. The veneer of scientism surrounding these new tools for life tuning should not preclude the original impetus for these procedures. Geneticists and Salesmen will tell you its all for medicine and preventing pain, then they tell their stock holders that its all for profit and progress. These are both plain lies.

The Human Genome Project about the Return of the Repressed. We have memories of the future, subconscious deviant destiny, mythical premonitions to fulfill. As we enter a world where the dreams and nightmares of all the prophets (Belmer, Battaille) and revelatory artists (St John the Divine, Monsanto) become common and walk the streets, the geneticist with a depth understanding of the surrealist implications of his science will become the new artist, the new mother of all abominations.

"How, some are asking, can we find some moral compass or moral limit to our desire to master everything and posses all? Only such limits, many would say, can save us from the moral ambiguity of our own cleverness."1

Lets start with a radical rereading of Goya's famous etching/quote Caprichos 43, El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos or The Sleep/Dream of Reason Begets Monsters. This is usually translated with the connotation that a person/culture which loses its ability to reason, creates an inhospitable life-world full of chimerical beasts that rape integrity (like the horrors of war.) The reliance on Reason in our global society brought us full circle, we are back to encompass the inebriated vengeance which used to be reserved for the ignorant. In fact, critical faculties are proof-neutral resignations of an overtly submissive populace. Logicians all float like flotsam down a wide channel of slow-shallow-slightly-curving-paradigmatic-zed. The sleep of reason could be read, not as reason's disappearance, but instead as the sleepy/dreamy filter of power imbued in reason's empirical distance (as seen from the purist advantage of the lab-coat priest.)

"There is no doubt you could breed for intelligence in humans the way you breed for milk in cows and eggs in chickens. If you were to raise the average IQ. by just one standard deviation, you wouldn't recognize things. Magazines, newspapers, books and television would have to become more sophisticated. Schools would have to teach differently."2

Has this reason filter itself blinded BioTech to the monsters they beget? Where on this earth is the Genome Jonestown going to erupt? This is perhaps a question best asked to advanced cultural critics like Andrew Cunanan. Most geneticists are sworn to The central Dogma of Genetics and display near religious mood swings whenever the motives of their pursuit are questioned. This technology is assumed to be in good hands, in the name of humanity. No talk of Asahara and the Sarin Gas in Tokyo's subways. No talk of what Iraqi BioWeapons Programs might easily entail, especially if they were initiated by George Bush's Pentagon.

"Imagination", a recent talk with a person of the programer's persuasion revealed, "is just a shot in the dark." The commodification of the genome, on the other hand, is a phalanx of tanks in the dark. But this unruly unknown is the prerequisite for a return to Pataphysics, or, to coin a phrase, PataGenetics. The Genetics of Imaginary Solutions, a tip of the hat to Alfred Jarry, is not merely Chaosmic contact with the Prophetic Chasms of possibility. That, in and of itself, would be enough. Instead, I propose a radical rereading of the ArchGenisis imbued by Genomic Reagency.

Any flesh-form that can be imagined represents a distinct chain of reactive possibility.

That is, the world of ideas has found a fleshy gateway with which to inject/interject thoughts, textuality and output the uncontrolled varieties of our radically freed imaginaries [Print to Flesh]. It is an algorithmic practice that may confuse the FDA and the public at large (if any public can be reassembled after this obsfucation of heredity) but a cultural critic is not merely an opulent spectator and therefore should not be surprised by the livid, limping specters of casH Inc.

"Among all things that can be contemplated under the concavity of the heavens, nothing is seen that arouses the human spirit more, that ravishes the sense more, that horrifies more, that provokes more terror or admiration to a greater extent among creatures than the monsters, prodigies, and abominations through which we see the works of nature inverted, mutilated, and truncated."3

If reason is a type of sleep, than the dawn reveals that which only the Imagination has failed to deny: the Sphinx, the Minotaur, Ganeesh, Mermaids, seven headed Hydras, flying Monkeys and any of the humanoid action figures we see today at Toys 'R' Us. Anyone may end up giving birth to multiple versions of their selves, with multi-appendages, multi-orifices, altered size and serrated inter-special tendencies. Hybrid life forms may evanesce without the womb or the lab. Fungal Dalis may sprout up in every meadow, after every rain, with only the Eugenic UN forces stunning and recapitulating the mustachioed waste out of the gene pool, composting more surrealism than logical positivism can competently bear.

"One must consent unreservedly to acknowledge our inability to annihilate Natures works; in light of the certainty that the only thing we do when we give ourselves over to destroying is merely to effect an alteration in forms which does not extinguish life, it becomes beyond human powers to prove that there may exist anything criminal in the alleged destruction of a creature, of whatever age, sex or species you may suppose it. Led still further in our series of inferences proceeding one from the other, we affirm that the act you commit in juggling the forms of Nature's different productions is of advantage to her, since thereby you supply her primary material for her reconstructions, tasks which would be compromised were you to desist in destroying."4

We see, pornographic monsters unfolding in spent spurts of fantasy cum reality. We see throbbing, moaning corpuscles of novelty seeking, rhythmic morass, the new deities of somnambulism. We see rhizomes of purple tumescence, gorged with the blood of so many debauches, flailing in the dung heap of their perceptual excesses. We see admixture nostalgia, the gun turrets of the Retro-Guard: one thousand Elvii alive in the Rock and Roll Play Schools of Irian Jaya, Mao reborn with a Red Star BirthMark selling Playgirl for Polemicysts who want to fondle his little red book. We see glowing technoHipsters with LSD nipples and adrenals the size of Montana. We see artificial Intelligencia taking the form of Mutagenic Tom Cruises born with a crown of chitonous thorns on their oversized eggheads and Turrets syndroming continuously since the Eve/ning the Gene Bomb dropped on The Hague.

We see the random sterilization of a fourteen year old Flesh Hacker leading to airborne polymorphic pregnancies overpopulating Iowa with telomerically perpetual preteens. We see garage Alchemists releasing viral loads that turns gold to gelignite, exploding all the markets. We see a milleniallist recreation of revelations with ineluctable accuracy and no solidity left to imbibe the crowd in done-done-done prophecies of the past. We might even see a crossover, quite Kaballistic really, like a text based pixel fish dropping parasitical nematodes into the recombinant world's vector/hardDrives reinstating syphilitic philosophy with new base/superstructure anti-culture-coagulants and zipatone side effects.

"American scientists were recently on the verge of replicating a new species type by mixing animal and human DNA. When ordered by the Government to cease their eugenic experiments, they refused, saying that this was 'too important' a medical breakthrough. Designers of a new species type, eugenic scientists are the agents by which recombinant organs will be recreated."5

There may be a reluctantance to embrace the multiFaceted faces of BioPandora, but this is not a question of Democratic choice, or budgeting more or less expensive entertainment value. Even the Federal Funding of commercial-science R&D won't stop this genetic world from going freeware or doubleDare snareware, wet and slimy grimeware, encapsulated crimeware. Not that DuPont and Monsanto and the rest of the Fortune 500 don't have a GoogleBillion Dollar hand to play in the shaping of Choice/Fear/Fetishism/Idolatry and now the shape of consumers to come. But this is life and life is loose and squiggly and nonconformist and uncontained.

"It remains to be seen whether the rush-hour traffic across the boundaries of nature and culture in genome discourse constitutes a case of fluid practice or a particularly grave case of hardening of the categories in technoscience"6

What better topic to focus our mutated form of literary criticism? The Genome Project, the new Encyclopedia the new Book of Life. This bio-text can be read within a variety of contexts/codexes. I don't just mean a critical account of Big Science and its NASDAQ roots. This is about the hypertextual domains of the proteins and bonds that spell out life. Can life become a text in a more literal sense than it already is? Can it be algorithmically sculpted like so many degrees of freedom in an even SofterImage render? Can we read into the complex interrelations that a scroll like chromosome 11 represents? Multidimensional gene arrays produce all the deviations of nature. This is a case of permutations which brings us back to math, analog or digital, the formula is the function. But is gene mapping a formula or a procession of culturally produced informatics?

"Signs of emphatic chromosomal paralipsis mark well the path of Future mutation. FIGURE 9-13c. Fractal Genetigram, simulated second generation. Surface punctures signify utter structural depravity viz. DNA matrix; subject's real body surface at this time becomes waxy and viscous: DO NOT TOUCH! FIGURE 9-13d. Fourth generation simulation. Genetic wound mnemonic automatism propels the subject right out of the species -- real body surface displays course protective ridges with frequent slime secretions parallel to the pit. FIGURE 9-13e"7

In 1983 Barbara McClintock won the Nobel prize in physiology for her discovery that genes actually have sex with each other at other times than during mitosis (I believe that mitosis is a dramatic recreation of a parasitic takeover of early nucleated cells by spirochetal parasites, but that is another story.8) Portions of the genes actually detach of their own accord and jump to other chromosomes within the nucleus or to the outside wet world of schizogenesis. This is referred to in biological terminology as sex. Our text is having sex. This is more about contagion than auto-commodification. There is a differential gambler that reworks any command and control of morally acceptable risk factors. We are not the only ones splicing these alien proteins that make us convolvolute around a steamy hotplate. Our programs rewrite themselves, crossing over into the collaborative unknown. We must remember that it is our pipettes that will spoon them more nutrients for the fulmination of dynamistic new pictograms.

The random undistinguished ideation of heesh-our-it-self will generate mutagenic transposition beyond the borders of knowledge. Get to know adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine, they are your closest neighbors, the dealers that democratize the shuffle. The compassionate, imperious saviors that scientists impersonate are drooly enough without the added scamming/scatting of their corporate lechery. Yet, how many of you fashionably will admit a compunction to be the nucleus donor in the mirror? Would you change your mind if genetic alteration were explained as a dialogical process? Mutated and truncated Nature is jazz already, welcoming we neophytes to jam into the unstable millennium with young, upwardly-mobile genetic elements (YUMGIES.)


-eMutagen 1998



1: Cloning Human Beings, Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commision, Pg 4 Rockville Maryland June 1997

2: Arthur Jensen, Discover, pg 56 October 1985

3: Pierre Boaistuau Histoires Prodigieuses 1561, Quoted in Deviations of Nature Visions of Excess 1927-1939, George Bataille, Minnesota Press 1985

4: The Marquis De Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings Pg 331 Grove Press 1966

5: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Hacking the Future, Stories for the Flesh Eating 90s, Pg 136, St. Martins Press NY 1996

6:Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium, FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouseTM, Pg 149 Donna J. Haraway, Routledge 1997

7: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Towards a Body Without Organs, Gregory Whitehead Apocalypse Culture, Amok Press

8: http://tunisia.sdc.ucsb.edu/speed/1.2/zaretsky.html