22 July 2011

Article: Eugene Thacker, "Cryptobiologies"

Peculiarly tucked away in volume 6 (2006) of the little Spanish e-journal Artnodes lies the article "Cryptobiologies" by Eugene Thacker. Nestled inconspicuously between various Spanish-language commentaries relating to the theme of "Organicities", this teasingly brief rumination dwells on the now-quotidian nature of various biotechnologies, "biodefensive" strategies and the uncertain humanity-animality distinction.

Within six pages, Thacker's text provides a discursive inquiry into the enduring reaction of unease towards the affective dimensions of contagion. It ranges from a linguistic analysis of the US position on infectious disease to medieval practices of biological warfare. And while a small section suggests a re-encoding of Heidegger's notion of Angst towards a notion of "existential biology", it is the Deleuzian and Bataillean engagement underpinning Thacker's obscurely named "Cryptobiologies" (for the word never appears in the body of the text, which perhaps indicates how we are to receive the word) that both enables and enlivens his vivid mapping of these biological politics.
"...to ask what it would be like to be a pack, a swarm, a flock - this is the question of animality ... a question not of species, genus and organism, but of topologies or patterns that effortlessly cut across species. The threshold of our understanding is not between human and animal, but rather between humanity and animality."

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