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Archive for October, 2014

Introduction

Any overview of the literature or of research proposals that fall within the respective fields of social sciences, humanities, and liberal arts, as well as the many associative inter-disciplinarities that produce (poetics) or problematize (politics) the topic of sex and/or sexuality congregate in clusters around two oppositional poles: ‘Sex and Technology’ versus ‘The Science of Sex’. Few cut across – or rather cut together/apart (Barad) – by taking seriously that ‘Sex is a technology’, or better ‘Sex is technics’, which could, but perhaps should not be the catchier title– should not, since in the theoretical discourses in sociology, STS, media theory and feminist philosophy it is not yet clear what a technological object is and is not. I will, along with collaborators in the next few years, attempt to elaborate this concept and its hidden costs, by arguing that there is such a thing as a Pornucopian Body, which is a technological object and which – like all technological objects – obtains a techno-normativity that ‘demands to be lived’.

Sex is a technological object!’ – What is a technological object?

Is what emerges in the agential cut of the ‘accidental feminism’ of Victoria Pitts-Taylor in her ongoing struggle with the biocultural brain then feminism’s neurological body? And if so, what kind of an object is it, if not a technological object as variously described by Luciana Parisi, Erich Hörl, Lucy Suchman or Bernard Stiegler? And what kind of critique – if not a decolonizing critique, as I will argue – does it enable?

But what about this body and what about the locus of its contingencies – contingency = variability with conditional constraints –the plastic brain? In the second decade after ‘the decade of the brain’, the myth of transparency of the human body, brain, and condition, made possible by ‘revealing technologies’ of medical imaging, now makes sex transparent and thereby raises the question what kind of an object is sex, if not, too, a technological object?

               The cyborg gaze, the technics of sex, and the sex of technology.

In conceptualizing the body and sex as technics, I suggest to reconceive the openness of the body and sex in many ways – a mutual or double-binding openness that invokes technics as a dialectical relation between sex and the body. The body as a site of enunciation and of affordances, and sex (in the various meanings of the word, a biological disposition, a reproductive mechanism and process, a social [habitual] performance that can express anything from pleasure to business to the most vile acts of violence). Sites of enunciation and technological objects comprise, as I have argued across my recent research collaborations and individual publications, not modes of existence (Latour) but modes or ontologies of production, which are as such political (not politics) in becoming both locations and temporalities through which we negotiate opportunities and constraints.

The contemporary regime of locating and temporalizing the human, her sex(uality), her body as technological object, is constituted in the cyborg gaze – a mostly visual regime that constitutes a paternalistic and imperial epistemic authority that affects spatializing, temporalizing, (re-) configuring bodies, embodiment and enactment, perception and conceptualizations, and the very ways of individual and social world- and kind-making; in the technoscientific context, the practical connection between an image that is being perspectivized by the gaze and the actual body reconfigure both image and body dialectically and iteratively.

We encounter the mutual shaping of time, space and habitus of sex, the shaping of technics, for example in Beatriz Preciado’s unfolding of the pharmacopornographic subject, which uncovers sex as technology – in the very idea of the technological condition – in the example of the dildo as the archetype of the sexual cyborg just as much as it does in the example of testosterone injection. The cyborg gaze, however, ultimately enforces a techno-aesthetic or techno-normativity that implants the gaze inside the body, located in the brain as the technological user, configured by the technologies it uses and those that make it ‘transparent’: The dildo can be as liberating as it can be restrictive. Medical imaging (fMRI) shows us our ‘brains on sex’ and makes (normatively) visible – as in a very recent ‘spectacular’ (Debord) science news item – the act of sex from kissing to penetration. These are reificiations of Science of Sex that shut out the liberating potential that diverse feminist scholarship from Kate Millet and Shulamith Firestone to LGTBQ voices such as Preciado have hoped for.

We will have to investigate, empirically, the implicit dispositional link between three discourses: The recent popular culture and academic discourses on transgender sex practices as liberating, the emergence of brain research into sex drive and menopause (v. man-o-pause), and the re-emergence of the hormone hypothesis through brain imaging in determination of the biological sex of intersex children.

                    The Pornucopia?

Deploying the lens of decolonial critique to unmask the matrix of the coloniality of power, being, gender, and sex (Lugones, Maldonado-Torres, Tlostanvoa, Quijano), I ask about the body and sex, and attempt to recast the Western body and sex in a gesture of ‘provincializing’ (Chakrabarty) – a decolonial critique that manages to find inspiration in the ideas of heterotopia (Foucault), multiplicity/manifold and temporality (Deleuze), and nomadic subjectivity (Braidotti/Haraway), practiced methodologically in terms of Eduardo Mendieta’s suggestion: Chronotopology.

In the West, the body and sex, as technological objects, constitute a difficult assemblage, I call the Pornucopia. The Western body and sex as technologies become a site, i.e. the location of enunciation and expressive production that is boundless and promises perpetual growth and progress, and limitless possibility (latin: cornu copiae) while this promise establishes – at the same time – a virtual, for always potentially present inequality of something/someone acquired by someone (greek: porne, pernanai). The ‘monstrous’ production of pornucopia from Greek and Latin replicates – endlessly – the monstrous production of the Western coloniality of power, which simultaneously produces ‘other places’ (East/Orient/Developing Nations, etc.) and obscures it’s own locatedness (provinciality), therein taking away the possibility of Others to express their own location. In producing sex and the body as technologies, as locations of sexual enunciation, sex and sexuality without bounds become articulated, the Pornucopian Moment exerts a violence that silences radical Others. The Pornucopia reality established an inclusion-and-difference paradigm (Epstein) that allows for ever more variables (gay, lesbian/gay, LGBi, LGTB, LGTBQ,…..) but at the same time obscures that the cost of boundless variation can be a dangerous loss of variability. The Western boundlessness (cornu copiae) of body and sex is made possible by technological advancement, but there is a trade off (pernanai) to be, which lies inherent in every technology: Every Technology obtains a techno-normativity/-aesthetic that ‘demands to be lived’ appropriately. In learning to live boundlessly, we live the Pornucopia. We are called to uncover the hidden cost of this location of Western coloniality.

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