theory, longish, on life, animal, vegetable
>>... Foucault argues that with the emergence of the human sciences at the birth of biopower, the animal is not excluded or forgotten but quite the opposite: animality is the dominant apparatus for investigating both what life is and what life does. Th e living is no longer primarily vegetable (sessile and awaiting mere categorization) but understood as evolving, appetite-driven, secret, discontinuous, mendacious, inscrutable, always on the prowl, looking for an opening to break free. As Foucault puts it, “Transferring its most secret essence from the vegetable to the animal kingdom, life has lef t the tabulated space of order and become wild once more” (OT 277). And this is of course not just a development within the narrow conf i nes of biology. Foucault could in fact cue here the advent of philosophical modernity itself. One might speculate that Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit (where human life itself is refash-ioned as nothing other than unfathomable discontinuity and animal appetite— in short, desire) shows the way for later nineteenth-century thought, which in turn opens a path directly to our day: from Darwin’s evolution of life, through Freud’s life of the unconscious, and Nietzsche’s life of self-overcoming, all the way to Schumpeter’s neoliberal life of creative destruction. All of these forma-tions depend completely on the bedrock connection of life to an animating, hidden, “wild” animality of desire: both prior to and beyond the human yet somehow still constituting that humanity as its secret essence.<<
[from Plant Theory: Biopower and Vegetable Life by Jeffrey Nealon]
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