A Rejoinder in Crass Humor: A Case of Corporate Genes

A company not many have heard of.  
A company that holds exclusive rights (patents) on BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Still the waters are murky. Big deal, so what? Hold on, hold on….before the spurting of curt questions….
One must know what would holding patents to these genes entail.
 
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are related to Breast and Ovarian cancers, and the patents are held by a Utah-based corporation, “Myriad Genetics”. Now, the curtness turns biting to oneself. Corporations are not people, but Corporations design people, build people, and ultimately own people. And, this is the incipient truth.
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Imagine this:
 
Patients want to know if they have mutations and hence would want to go in for genetic testing. These mutations are associated with genes that have a significantly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Myriad Genetics apparently created something patent-able by isolating these genes from the body. The tussle reaches the Supreme Court. Nine brilliant minds on legal affairs try their luck with genetic affairs now. One judge quips, “If you could get a super-microscope and look at what they have with the cDNA,you would discover something with an A there, you see, and you wouldn’t discover something with a U there. And there is no such thing in nature as the no-introns AGG, whatever.” This one judge is formally listed as Stephen Breyer…good nomenclature, and if one were to ask why?, well, if the justices could rant on genes, why can’t I rant on nomenclatures. Evens Stevens…elementary. Getting the green signal, and therefore moving on, there is an encounter with building blocks of life getting smashed into their juridical equivalents of cookies, baseball bats (good, IPL is yet to infect these judges!!) and bodily organs.
Holy Shit!!! I FORGOT TO ASK: ARE YOU STILL IMAGINING?
WELL, SWITCH SENSIBILITIES, this is all that is happening in the real space, and not the reel space of some over the edge, scifi derangement flick.
 
REALLY….
 
I use salt, sugar, baking powder, butter some kinda essence and bake a cake. I patent it depending on procedural techniques and a habit of good luck. So far, so good. so what? I cannot fight the right to the basic ingredients. Can I?
A cricket bat (sorry, you baseballers!!!) is a cricket bat, because it is isolated from the tree, branch, trunk. SO? Similarly, a genetic sequencing isn’t really a naturally occurring one, since geneticists isolate and recombine them in ways that is patentable. WOW. Amazoningly lost. Even a word called “Gobbledygook” says it could be understood. Let us contort the proverb and make it sound: kissing the weed for the cheese!!!
 
My funny bones are getting lame now. Time to get soporific. Why should Corporations own genes? was the case in point at the Supreme Court, and all of this sounded like some eternally coruscating slapstick from the heydays of 3 Stooges (personally, they are my all time favourites).
 
A twist to the grim side of life is what Peter Meldrum (he is retired since), CEO of Myriad Genetics echoes,
 
“were essential to developing diagnostic tools that have been used by more than 1 million women to understand their hereditary risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”…..
 
“Were these molecules derived in part from natural material? Sure. But that is true of many patents. Labs routinely turn naturally found molecules into innovative medicines and get patent protection.”….
 
Our tests are also accessible; some 95 percent of patients get insurance coverage, and we offer the test for free to those who cannot afford it….
 
and lastly,
 
“Our patents have also promoted additional research; 18,000 scientists have studied the genes, resulting in 10,000 published papers.”……
 
A corporation that brags, commodifies the body in ways similar to a general who orders a massacre and brags medallions and stars on his uniform cannot be fought on cavils anymore. If this reality does not seep in, we could even be late for eating crows, for this would mean non-extant existence, denuding our senses to more and more invasions, making us vulnerable to corporatized-demon[crazy]-ness. Whatever, whatever could mean……

Dromos, Pathologies & Accelerationism 1.0

This is more of identity with difference!!!
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The ominosity of global food (production + consumption) as a result of food scarcity as seen through the socio-economic and political spectrum results in an irreversibility of a merger of technology and capitalism. With the use of bioengineered seeds, the crisis might be mitigated, but this very use could inadvertently plant anomalies within the genetic lineage of  life on Earth. But, the corporates view such anomalies as signatures to their upholding the ‘right’ to property as ‘patented’, which gets produced and reproduced as synthetic life forms through bioengineering. This is platitudinous, no doubt.
Unlock the gates of hell, and welcome to the corporatized city-states, where functions and forms dictate what kinds of traits are to be looked at while hiring workers, who are clones of the already tested for efficiency. Well, this is dystopic, or is it utopian? The former is what comes immediately to mind, whereas the latter is what comes after drudging the mental and eventually discovering that from the ethico-conflictual point of view, what is dystopian at first looks utopian later on.
No jumping to conclusions here, for I am not shielded yet!!! 
Converting the inorganic into organic life forms is what corporations deem to follow, and in the process garner legitimacy for their ownership of property. All of it is still logically flawless. Efficiency mixed with rationality as delivered from labs would reach an epitome of perfection. This perfection would ultimately give rise to a notion of ‘perfect’ society/conclave, which upon its realization would make the ground for the corporations more fertile for experimentation. This experimentation would be ruled by pride for power and profit knowing nothing about constraints whatsoever. From within the apparatuses of corporate laboratories will rise a new creed of Prometheus, with power totaling more than all combined hitherto vying for the remnants of resources that humankind thought was its. The futuristic screen starts getting gloomy, and without interval would roll out credits of an expendable humanity.  This is sheer extrapolation of pathologies in the world to come. Are we prepared for this invasion? And how do we think we can counter this corporate juggernaut accelerating at us? How can we vaccinate against the ubiquity of these pathogens? Either by expecting the vector of this acceleration to miss us completely and changing its course, or by anticipating that our imagination fails us in our present discourse. Or, the third way is to accumulate (or let accumulate) the pathogenic genes within us and forfeit the “anti-…. ” sentiments and race at speeds with intensity unbounded and crash out systemically. If democracy cannot inhabit, then perhaps dromocracy can.
Jumping to conclusions here, for the shield is porous and the best pessimistic thought can buy. 

Brassier, Enlightenment & Nature: A Reciprocity

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A lapse back into nature is a tendency that is inherent in all living things, and the overcoming of this tendency is the hallmark of development. This lapse is more like a blind conformity to nature and in a way is reason’s own fatal submission to the dictates of nature. As Ray Brassier tries to juxtapose this reason with the Enlightenment’s reason (specifically taking his reading of Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment seriously), he calls this reason as a function of adaptational constraints. He does this precisely because as the two authors talk about the Enlightenment reason’s drive to conceptually subsume particularity, heterogeneity and multiplicity to universality, homogeneity and unity and in the process rendering everything equivalent to everything else, but in a way such that nothing is identical to itself. This is conceptual identification that stipulates differential commensurability and in their own words ‘amputating the incommensurable’. The evolution of this reason is undoubtedly the case of the confrontation between the dominated and the dominating powers that subjected the humans under the sway of the all-powerful nature. Brassier takes his reading of sacrifice from the Dialectic of Enlightenment as an attempt to propitiate these incommensurables. Adorno and Horkheimer claim in their book that enlightenment equates the living with the non-living, just as the mythical tales equated the non-living with the living.

The authors accord to reason a reflexivity that is capable of understanding and resolving the incommensurability that is generated as a result of the enlightenment science’s knowledge of the actual and the existence. This reflexivity of reason is purely centred on its own historicity. They claim that the reason is independent of nature by virtue of its reflexivity on its own dependence on nature and this is where science fails to reach for somehow it depicts its incapability of engaging with reflexivity. The subject that postulates absolutes is sick in their view, passively succumbing to the dazzlement of false immediacy and the only remedy to cure the ailment is by inaugurating a mediation in the form of remembrance that would encompass the human history in its socio-cultural milieu. This kind of nature is different in that now, we, the humans belong in it, as compared with the earlier version, where we were excluded from nature.

Economic Randomisation….(A)musings

From dying embers….I hope someone someday would plug this in as far as researching on economies/ics are concerned, or else the Earth would continue to revolve, or parsimony win over thoroughness.

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Mainstream economic theory today is in the story-telling business whereby economic theorists create make-believe analogue models of the target system – usually conceived as the real economic system. This modeling activity is considered useful and essential. To understand and explain relations between different entities in the real economy the predominant strategy is to build models and make things happen in these “analogue-economy models” rather than engineering things happening in real economies.

Formalistic deductive “Glasperlenspiel” (Remember Herman Hesse anyone? The GBG) can be very impressive and seductive. But in the realm of science it ought to be considered of little or no value to simply make claims about the model and lose sight of reality. Although the deductivist mathematical modeling method makes conclusions follow with certainty from given assumptions, that should be of little interest to scientists, since what happens with certainty in a model world is no warrant for the same to hold in real world economies.

Mainstream economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. Hopefully humbled by the manifest failure of its theoretical pretences, the one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modeling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics will give way to methodological pluralism based on ontological considerations rather than formalistic tractability.

To have valid evidence is not enough. What economics needs is sound evidence. Theories and models being “coherent” or “consistent with” data do not make the theories and models success stories.

Modernity and Tragedy

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When I talk of the tragedy of modernity, I don’t want to form the impression of the total destruction of the meaningful whole and the thread of hope that it contains. On the contrary, it opens up the vistas for the possibilities of deliverance of the project of enlightenment. This is done by critical insight into the current situation by making it clear that this critical thought is beyond the current historical situation and hence being utopian. It is looked as a concrete utopia because the normative point of departure of critique is set out of the concrete historical situation.

The discussion of tragedy has no better point than the one outlined by Aristotle in his Poetics. In his Poetics, Aristotle divides the Greek tragedy into three parts viz., 1) anagnorisis, 2) peripeteia and 3) pathos. By anagnorisis, Aristotle means the transition from ignorance to knowledge. After this sudden enlightening, the tragic hero enters peripeteia, wherein the happiness turns into suffering. The last phase namely pathos makes katharsis possible, by which Aristotle means a state that arises in the reader or a spectator when she witnesses the humiliation and suffering of the tragic hero. The end of the tragedy can be either happy or unhappy, but the spectator or the reader gets purified. The primary aim would be to go beyond Aristotle and study the stopping of the dialectical process of the modern history. This is because modern history characterizes itself at a standstill.

This is achievable by analysing modernity in both sociological and philosophical aspects. Sociologically, modernity refers to the last great epoch of humanity characterized by phenomenon like scientific and industrial revolution, economic and political re-organisation of societies around the capitalistic forms of production. The process of modernization has produced material and cultural resources for the development of accomplished individuality. On the one hand many of the technological innovations help people make lives easier and on the other humanity has become more and more one-dimensional culturally where even free time is mapped out to its most meticulous detail. And to add to the woes, the process of globalization has made the exploitation of the third world extremely bitter and has brought about the world on the brink of ecological and social catastrophe. This is referred to as the tragedy of modernity. On the one hand, modernity has produced material and cultural prosperity, while on the other hand; it has also produced class polarisation on a global scale, mental pathologies, and a one dimensionality that is all pervasive in the society.

But looking at this tragedy of modernity would yield concentration on Stoss more than katharsis. Walter Benjamin’s concept of Stoss comes about by his critical reading of Freud. Freud argues that some memories are too painful for the conscious mind. The rapid pace of the working life and changes taking place in the society inflict shocks that overwhelm individuals and institutions. The culture industry responds to this situation by offering means of repressing and coping with the entire negative reactions inevitably caused by the situation. This quandary can only be answered by applying dialectics more in a heuristic fashion so that we get the following picture: Stoss is needed in order to liberate the dialectical movement of enlightenment to proceed onwards from the present circling in place. It can liberate us from “the end of history” nihilistic atmosphere, to empower us. Philosophers and social scientists can dream again of the unforeseen futures. Those dreams can hope to open the avenues as to how the project of enlightenment can be realized.

The Enlightenment is the modern mode of thinking that intends to emancipate people from self-inflicted and socially heteronymous structures. According to critical theory, social freedom is linked indispensably to the Enlightenment. The meaning of the Enlightenment is seen as a concretisation of goodness in the form of a humane society. The Enlightenment is the process of maturation of humankind by means of the destruction of the myths and the authority of tradition. “The Enlightenment has always aimed at liberating men from fear and establishing their sovereignty,” but, on the other hand, “the fully enlightened earth radiates disaster triumphant.” (Adorno and Horkheimer in The Dialectic of Enlightenment). The Enlightenment destroys myths to free men, but in the process itself became an enslaving myth. It replaced myths of earlier mythological world-views with the myth of factuality and that of an engineered society. In this kind of society, the individual is drowned in the iron cage of society. The ideological mask of factuality and commodities tend to cover antagonistic social contradictions and the minority of subjects.

Within the Frankfurt School there is a discrepancy about the meaning of the modernisation process on a general level. In addition to the first generation of the Frankfurt School, we can identify at least two major new departures. Jürgen Habermas has argued that there is also a positive tendency in the process of modernisation. This tendency reveals the possibility of rational discussion and communication, and helps the evolution of a social moral consciousness to the level where it is possible to open practical discourse on social justice. Axel Honneth argues that in the modern world there is a possibility to overcome antagonisms between individuals and between individuals and institutions. This possibility is connected to the authentic reciprocal recognition in three dimensions: primary relationships (love, friendship), legal relations (rights), and community of value (solidarity).

Regardless of the fact that the Frankfurt School is a very heterogeneous research tradition, it has two principles common to all representatives and different formulations of critical theory. These two principles are also the basic driving forces behind my project: First, the empirical sciences and philosophical reflection are internally connected, and second, research is orientated toward social criticism (critique of unjust social structures) and it endeavours to take into consideration the hopes, needs and moral convictions of those people that live under unjust social structures.

The focus is on the tradition of critical theory itself and its relationship to the tragedy of modernity. The theme, which can be named as “the tragedy of modernity and the fate of critical theory,” the idea of tragedy and the paradox of modernity itself are reflected and the tradition of critical theory is viewed through this concept. Modernity has created the possibility for theoretical reflection on “the costs and gains” of the process of modernisation. We consider the tradition of critical theory the most important instance of critical reflection on the nature of modernity and the conceptualisation of the tragedy of modernity. In doing so, critical theory itself drifts into paradoxes. Critical theory is not the Fichtean third eye that views the world from the outside, but instead is a part of the tragedy of modernity and the paradox of (the dialectic of) the Enlightenment.

It follows that any attempt to actualise critical theory requires a theoretical self-understanding of the Frankfurt School and its own theoretical paradoxes.