"Life is no longer a unique quality, an essence, but a movement (Grosz, 37)."

"For many...the 'slippery slope'...begins with the emergence of a black market in organs and tissue sales; for the medical anthropologist the slippery slope begins the first time one ailing human looked at another living human and realized that inside that other body was something that could prolong his or her life (Scheper-Hughes, N., The Global Traffic in Human Organs, Report to Congressional Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, June 27, 2001)."
-examples: sex with a virgin can cure AIDS, bone marrow transplant saves life, prisoner in China is killed and extracted organs become part of global market of organs.
-is it prolong, augment, or make better regardless of temporal extension?

Life at the Population Level:

As I read through Time Travels I am increasingly confused about the lack of differentiation in some of the terms that Grosz utilizes. The prevailing notion of the text seems to revolve around the intersection of nature, our biologically mediated selves, and cultural production. Yet, even as Grosz critiques the traditional feminist visualization of nature as "inert, given, unchanging, resistant to historical, social, and cultural transformations... (15)" I have no idea what nature should be conceived as and what "culture" is symbolized within Time Travels. Further, when explicating Darwinian evolution natural selection is reduced to artificial and sexual selection. How artificial selection is embedded within natural selection boggles the mind, but this is a side point. Evolutionary psychologists (including our own Linnda Caporael, although she would debate her place within this group) posit that culture and group dynamics have as crucial a role in the evolution of humans, if not so much for other species, as the individualistic notions that are typically assumed by Darwinian evolution proponents. Perhaps I am mistaken in the emphasis that Grosz has placed on this culture to evolution path, but the overarching story seems to rest on the biologic and natural as dominant mechanism for selection with culture placed on the wayside. Even when acknowledging sexual selection and skin tone little is mentioned on the social dimensions that would constitute this selection mechanism (24). In contrast in the interview with Dr. Terrence Deacon, there is an overwhelming "social evolutionary support" to language and writing. Without the dynamics of group interaction as a prerequisite to survival the early "tweaked ape" would have been unlikely, if not impossible, to transform into what is now typing out the words that you are now reading. There are some facets of this dynamic, but it seems like an ad hoc introduction such as this quote, "The future emerges from the interplay of a repetition of cultural/biological factors, and the emergence of new conditions of survival: it must he connected, genealogically related, to what currently exists, but is capable of many possible variations in current existence, the exploration of its virtual tendencies as well as its actualized products. The new is the generation of a productive monstrosity, the deformation and transformation of prevailing models and norms."

While culture formation has been an adaptive force for cognitive development my concern is when we juxtapose the world as it is now, with little of the "struggle for existence" that Grosz posits as a highly plastic status of existence (28), and how our species will continue its biologically grounded evolution. I'm in complete agreement with Grosz's argument that dominant groups are defined not by their own power but upon the shifting sands of the groups they dominate, "that the very successes of dominant groups produce the conditions for the domination of other groups that differ from them and serve to transform them." In. The struggle for existence at the cultural level seems strong and creates new entities like feminism and colonial studies, but can this same struggle be construed at a species/evolution level? Grosz argues that the past is not a causal mechanism, despite what the sociobiologists want to claim, but rather an "index of resources" that the future utilizes (38). In the case of evolution unmitigated by culture I can see the continued differentiation of the biological self, but when culture is instituted as an element that is as much a constraining force as an enabling force.

This cultural constraining force extends as far as racism in of all places cellular tissue culturing. One of the sections in Landecker's Culturing Life presents an historical analysis of the narratives used in a particular cell line derived from a black women named Henrietta Lacks (170-172). This HeLa line became ubiquitous throughout tissue culturing labs but attained a status as a contaminating force difficult to halt. The language of uncontrolled promiscuity and savagery extended from the racist language that might have been attributed to Henrietta Lacks to even the bits and pieces of sarcoma cells biopsied from her body. Perhaps we can differentiate into new forms, but those new forms seem to only be new material for cultural norms and confusions to latch onto. In considering how culture shapes the discussion, definition, and regulation of biomaterial we should be wary of whether we are considering culture as past present or future. I'm reminded of Foucault's work on biopower as a process of obfuscating not only the activities we engage in but the protections of self and agency.

Life in our Control/Life out of Control:
Is this a force coming from future? Many in the class say that regardless of whether a creature, rock, atmosphere, etc. has consciousness the future has a force on the present. My claim is that the Future is a constructed, amorphous entity that only has a direct force on humans because of their capability to construct a future that contains not only themselves but also that which is outside of themselves. Logan rebutted with the notion of hives having the capability of creating a collective memory that transcends the individuals in the hive. The trouble becomes, is this memory capable of constructing alternatives to the successful practice of what the hive memory recreates over the course of generations? Humans have the ability to recognize not only that which should be recreated due to its perceived success, or in the terms of biological memory as that which has been successful and is adapted into our genetic infrastructure, but also the possibility of reflexively thinking about how the past successes can be changed into something that more approximates the conception of the future. In the case of biopower what limitations are we placing on ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. I wrote in a different space the following:

"While we typically consider that lateral gene transfer occurs only in populations of bacteria, are there more directed activities by humans that accomplish the equivalent and even push the limitations of genus gene transference. Two items come to mind. The first is the power within the techniques and tools of biotechnology allowing chimeric forms of new life to emerge: bacteria eat petroleum spilled over a bay, mice develop human compatible ears on artificial scaffolding embedded subdermally, a frog becomes the origin of a “victimless” steak (http://www.abc.net.au/arts/digital/stories/s877305.htm), or perhaps Adam might eventually transgenically insert the gene for spicy wasabi into food grade tuna. The second, and perhaps more interesting and intransient, is the thought that the future looks bright for new gene therapies that can alter the genome of our favorite species, Homo sapiens. If willing to get beyond our trepadations for altering germ line cells the insertion of an extra copy of growth hormone or the deletion of an unpleasant “maladaptive” feature will seemingly mimic the lateral gene transfer of Helmreich’s account. Can we ignore a further future of cheap biotech tools and extensions of bioart to introduce those beautiful fluorescent proteins (http://www.microscopyu.com/galleries/fluorescence/cells/u2/u2large.html) coloring the actions of molecular biologists into our own lives?"

Foucault was pushing us to reevaluate and experiment with our sexuality as a means of exploring the power of our social relationships over ourselves. In a similar way I am struck by the similarities to the possibility of experimentation of the self with the tools of biotechnology and the cultural norms that seems to prevent us from even considering the possibility of a future self--a directed self. Would not the individual power to retool what it is to be human be one of the ultimate forms of democratic participation (I can't help but reach into my sci-fi bookshelf and pull out Dan Simmons Hyperion Saga and the horrifying role that the Arnists played in the divergent "evolution" of a spacefaring race of humans vs. the terrestrial variety).

If we look at Landecker's Culturing Life we get some idea of this future force. "Life as technology" has multiple meanings for Landecker, not only does this target the way in which the historical development of biological tools for tissue culturing reconstruct life as fractionable, hybridizable and immortal but humanity has also begun the reconstruction of itself along the same lines (1). The future imaginaries that humans are capable of constructing as individuals and as cultures establish the scaffolding for manipulating technolife. No other organism seems capable of considering its own future in terms of symbolic representations of self, group, hybrid, and other. Perhaps chimeras can occur, it is only a matter of how various cultures create boundaries around traditional spheres of life not the biological impossibility of those other species that can't think about Life, let alone what Life should look like. The intellectual search for how to manipulate biological matter becomes the tools to further manipulate life. Foucault argues in his Introduction to Sexuality, "...we must define the strategies of power that are immanent in this will to knowledge (73)." In the future will we become the amoeba that must consider whether to simply eat the organisms we encounter but also react the the possibility of assimilating the potential of the other into ourselves. We can see this in the efforts of our ancestors to turn invaders into mitochondria, centrioles, and flagella. I expect that most will cringe at the thought, but if we are to believe Derrida, the words we put on the page do the same work of transforming what we intend into something that is both ours and not ours. The interaction with the word, language, and other necessitates a rethinking of what constitute the boundaries of "me" and, more importantly, how "me" is actively bounded by our surroundings.

Life as Part and Whole:
Landecker implicitly draws an historical string from technological power of the industrial age to Foucault's biopower to the present infiltration of biopower in vivo:

"Cultured cells are characteristic of the present of the human condition, they function within well-established systems of labor and exchange, they are normalized in and by these systems; yet they also represent profound and recent change to a new state of being, as routine tools, alienable commodities, and sites of production (3)."

The perspective on biological matter required an infrastructure change that made life a technology in the same way that people were reduced to labor technologies for the industrial revolution, diverting ethical concerns of those who were the capital owners. Landecker creates a similar problematization when he talks about the removal of bioethics from tissue culturing by removing the possibility of reproduction from the cells (5). The power of the future in that establish the imaginations of the future (and Futures' subsequent force) as a dialectic between conscious choice to progress toward some objective and shifting cultural norms of life and ethics of manipulation. A second ethical switch occurs when we begin to think of extracted cells and tissue as having their own agency separate from the whole organism, "'Each of the elements . . . of our bodies lives without doubt a little for us, but they live above all for themselves (29).'"

Agency and Biomaterial:
Abstracting tissue culturing to the harvesting of organs and blood these biomaterials seem to maintain not just an independent life from the donor individual, but have embedded will or moral weight even after the separation from the whole. In one instance, Deepa Reddy (Good Gift for the Common Good, Cultural Anthropology, 22(3), 2007) examines the various facets of blood gifting in populations of Indians and Muslims. There particular ethic of dana (gift giving in its broadest sense) sustains the community and individual activities of supplying blood for a "common good." The moral will of the individual to give of themselves to the benefit of community is maintained after the process of the donation. This particular ethical position becomes complicated under Reddy's anthropological supervision as frames of culture, market and scientific knowledge creation intersect with the blood gift. In much the same way as the HeLa cells maintained aspects of their original donor's characteristics through the rhetoric and discourse of the scientific and media communities the gifts of biomaterial confront the neoliberal market of genetic research with a religious, moral claim for the propagation of dana.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes (The Global Traffic in Human Organs: Report to United States Congress, June 27, 2001) confronts the issue of body donation in a decidedly less morally ambiguous frame. Her emphasis is in exposing the global market for organ trafficking as a present and dangerous market. In her analysis she establishes the ethical void maintained by the less savory characters in this global market, but also problematizes the issue of gift giving in the process. What validity do we have as moral agents to dismiss alternative conceptions of what biomaterial gifting should encompass. Scheper-Hughes describes how, "In some Asian societies the use of prisoner's organs is seen as a social good and as an opportunity to redeem the family's honor."