Susie Ramsay (by way of Pit Schultz <>) on Tue, 13 May 1997 00:14:05 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> re: As Above, [So Below] - Critical Art Ensemble

>Hence, not only are sexuality and reproduction practically separated, but so 
>are the parents. This way, reproduction better conforms to the capitalist 
>necessity of efficiency: No useless activity occurs in the reproductive 
>process, and less genetic material is wasted. Excess genetic material is 
>reconfigured into a substance for commodified process, as opposed to 
>becoming one of nonrational potential. In this manner, the reproductive 
>process becomes practically reclassified as a purely medical process.

In response to the Critical Art Ensemble's very interesting "As Above, [So 
Below]", I just wanted to add a couple of thoughts relevent to the strategy 
outlined of "separating sexuality from reproduction/creation": namely the 
controversy concerning the rights of a foetus and determining when life 
begins. The successful(?) campaign by anti-abortion groups to separate the 
image of the human foetus from the context of the womb and a woman's body 
(thanks in part to medical science's advanced visualization techniques as well
as those little plastic foetus dolls) is another strategy which effectively 
prepares us to accept the idea of reproduction as potentially "a purely 
medical process". This visual separation of the foetus from the womb, even in 
the earliest stages of gestation, trains us to conceive of the possibility of 
the foetus as an individual capable of living outside the womb. Not to mention
the fact that we feel impelled by our dualistic thinking tradition and by 
legal questions to try to determine if and when during childbearing does one 
person (mother carrying child) become two persons. Good luck!

And following the logic of capitalism's need for increased efficiency, the 
whole process of childbearing could possibly be completely separated from both
male and female bodies. (hey, no more workers getting maternity leave to worry
about!) Premature babies are being saved earlier and earlier (saving premature
babies weighing no more than 1/4 pound is standard practice in North America 
and I believe that minimum is about to decrease) and as detailed in the CAE 
text, fertilization techniques replace the need for physical contact between 
two people. As medical science's intervention in the reproductive process is 
coming from both ends, a scenario when the entire process from conception to 
delivery will be separated not only from the sexual act but from that 
old-fashioned baby-in-a-woman's-womb method, is getting easier to imagine.

Needless to say, the non-separation of capitalism and cristianity continues to
be an effective method of social control. I can't help but think that 
strategic separations (sexuality from reproduction, mother from father, foetus
from mother) go hand in hand quite nicely with the market's  disproportional 
emphasis on the need to achieve total physical separateness and psychlogical 
individuality (the "freedom" of being separated from everyone else requires 
that you spend more). Divide and conquer? And then there's that other scary 
combo (in NA anyway) of puritanism and pop psychology waging war on 
"dependency", emotional and otherwise, and the invention of both "addictions" 
and "12-step programs". But that's another can of worms. As a closing 
question/thought, as much as we are seeing the material reality of these 
strategic separations, perhaps what we don't we know about their consequences 
is what we should be paying more attention to.

Susie Ramsay

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: