Thursday, November 22, 2007
In the relation between hardware, software and wetware, hardware is clearly technical (apparatus, technology, techne), software functions as the social (polis: a function, as in protocol). This creates the unusual position in which the human wetware is left with the remaining function, in the position traditionally associated with nature (laws of physics, instinct, blind necessity). The analogy would be with the 'database unconscious' - what databases by definition must exclude. The database unconscious is the flesh, embodied experience, and especially the kind of contingent body and behaviour which escapes control because it cannot be informationalised. The human returns as bodies and instincts, which in a Kantian frame would mean they are the force of necessity, in the same way the laws of physics are the force of necessity in contexts of survival. Here action – the characteristic of consciousness – ends up as the property of code, that is consciousness of a highly restricted kind, the terminus ad quem of enlightenment rationality. The wetware residue, which functions purely as a random number generator from the standpoint of the software, has the force of necessity but the actuality of contingency (ie already overdetermined but in such a way that its behaviours appear irrational, and so as random, rather in the same way as the weather). So the 'actor' is displaced from the human into the protocol/code; while at the same time, in conformity with the process, the human element ceases to be individual subjects and becomes the excluded obverse of the mass management of populations: micro-behaviours of the human biomass. One implication is that subjectivity as we have thought of it since Descartes (including Lacan), is no longer a critical concept. There is no inner life. Deleuze and Guattari may be right: there are concepts capable of generating possible worlds. Concepts, not people. What in this system generates concepts is not the human but the code.