December 2008

              Gestell as a framework is, as with other systems of control, concerned with boundaries, and the sites of difference. At the boundaries of objects, power exchange and maintenance can be overseen and moderated. Necessary for the systems of taxonomic and bodily control is an integrity or stability of the objects’ essence and the strict delimitation and division of that which is to be controlled. Human bodies, if given over to Gestell are partitioned into components of a machinated system of function where performance, production and reproduction, are allied with ontology. Under this rubric, individuals of a given pre-ordered body whose specifications align with another’s physiology, are conceptually and practically interchangeable. Donna Haraway however states that there “is no ground for ontologically opposing the organic, the technical, and the textual.”[1] Bodies, as gender and sex have been earlier also noted, are societal endeavors continually under construction whose integrity disappears into overlapping territories of biology, culture, technology, and myth. Haraway’s approach to bodies is located within feminist biosocial theories which have rendered strong boundaries of bodies and their technological artifacts obsolete. Here, bodies are shown to be mutually and co-dependently adapted along with the tools created long before the Homo sapiens, and bodies’ creative self-determination continues through the tools employed in relation to the shared social world and the beings in one’s environment.

            The ontological overlap depicted by Haraway is suggestive of Heidegger’s discourse on environment, equipmental structure, and others as primarily seen in Being and Time’s fifteenth paragraph. There Heidegger writes in an expression of the ontological overlap of environment, artifact, and social world; or the inextractible conjunction of primordial Umwelt and Mitwelt, “Any work with which one concerns oneself is ready-to-hand not only in the domestic world of the workshop but also in the public world.”[2] In our dealings [Umgang] we go about in within the purposeful Umwelt, the work world of “in-order-to” that is ‘closest’ to Dasein’s everydayness. Previously, the entities we encounter in the world had been posited as ‘things’ [res] and misconstrued as individual articles, and Heidegger proffers that each artifact involved in the ‘in-order-to’ exists within an equipmental totality, so that there is one structure of ‘equipment’ of which there are only various expressions. There is no isolated task, and all work points to further work; the goal of another goal, the ultimate of which is ‘the sake of Dasein’. Equipment [Zeug] is a collective noun for all of the gear and accoutrements we face and has two principal characteristics; first that all gear, tools, and labor point to Dasein as the end. Work and serviceability is always with the end of Dasein in sight, not the reverse. Secondly, Zeug includes our dealings with Nature, giving meaning and purpose to one’s surroundings so that the ‘natural’ is endowed with an ‘in order to’ that also points back to Dasein. Seeing the wind as ‘wind in the sails’ and a river as a source of power is a part of the valueless and morally neutral technological mode constitutive of Dasein and reveals that the ‘natural’ world is never met without being laden with meaning and culture. The sciences’ retreats from ‘Nature as Zeug’ results in the contextless abstraction [Vorhanden] of the present-at-hand where the “botanist’s plants are not the flowers of the hedgerow; the ‘source’ which the geographer establishes for a river is not the ‘springhead in the dale’”[3] which in Haraway’s warning is when the ‘objectively natural’ is privileged with the default cultural hegemonies.

            The artifacts and environing elements having shown themselves to be of a larger structural whole, and subject to Dasein’s influence and meaning making, so too does technology reveal itself to overlap with Being-with-others. Heidegger writes that Mitwelt, nature, and and shared cultural meaning are intimately correlated; the municipal utilities of water and electricity, the transportation infrastructure all bear the influence of Being-with-others complete with historical meanings and interpretations of culture-what Haraway would call the ‘mythical’. Again, as Heidegger writes, any task in the private workshop is inseparable from the ‘public world’; this is related to the everyday They-self for as an artifact within the equipmental structure is already given the meaning and direction which bears the past inscriptions of others. One introductory example of this phenomenon is the ‘south wind’ whose natural and presumably meaningless occurrence is in fact given cultural naming and history bearing significance in its humanly named southerly origin. The public orientation of history, meaning, and most significantly dating and time are bound into the heavenly bodies of sun and stars comprising what Heidegger calls the ‘sky’. It is necessary to note that for Heidegger, the environment is a non-spatial feature of the ontological concept of worldhood and all of the constitutive ontological features of worldhood are upon which equipment is founded. “That by which things are thus dated is available environmentally and yet not restricted to the world of equipment with which one currently concerns oneself. It is rather the case that in the world the environing Nature and the public environment are always discovered along with it.”[4] This is to say that by worldhood as an existentiale preceding the meanings of the ‘in-order-to’ gives them over to the thrownness, the weight of tradition in everyday discourse, and the possibility for an authentic modification.

            Two examples of artifacts can serve the purpose of illustrating Heidegger’s and Haraway’s existential description of the overlap of sociality, technology, and nature. First is that of the clock; factical Dasein finds itself in its everyday mode given to detemporalize itself through the natural clock of public signs in the sky, but has also the technological innovation of the clock in its own way mimicking the detemporalizing features inherent in time-keeping. “As time-reckoning is perfected and the use of clocks becomes more refined, this making-public gets enhanced and strengthened.”[5] Past innovations’ collaborative and cumulative effects have changed the world Dasein faces in terms of its own detemporalization. With the encounter of clocks, as well as other technologies in one’s world, one faces the Other, the das Man, possibilities for both further enframing and authenticity. The second is the image of a boat which Heidegger states brings Others to us, even if the boat, its owner, and creators are unknown to us. Being-in-the-world cannot support clear delineations of Others from artifacts whether we passively observe them, as a boat along a shore or utilize them ourselves, we are faced with the Other. Writes Heidegger: “along with the equipment to be found when one is at work [in Arbeit], those Others for whom the ‘work’ [“Werk”] is destined are ‘encountered too.’”[6] In terms of Levinas’ analysis, this expands the social and ethical determinations beyond merely the encounter of the face. Here, with the integration of Dasein, Others, and technologies, one’s ethical considerations for the other are just as present in our dealings and tasks regardless of the ‘presence’ of the Other; our artifacts and technologies are always with-Others, thoroughly blurring boundaries that biology and the sciences would construct.

[1] Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Routledge. 1991),                212.

[2] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 100.

[3] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 100.

[4] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 466.

[5] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 468.

[6] [6] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row. 1962), 153.


Israeli officials this week proudly stepped forward and declared the
nation’s unequivocal pro-choice stance.
“This is a big step forward for our nation. We can put petty quibbles aside and just move forward.” Said new Minister of Pro-Choice Parades Levi Tuvarek.

The decision of the Knesset has shocked some and disturbed many of the American Pr0-Israeli Christian Right.
“Deciding against life is totally un-Christlike.” Said Rex Overthal, Portland’s hip young pastor of Rebel Youth for Christ Church. “Pro-choice is like, totally not cool and my posse’s homeboy Jesus is totally bummed by this decision. When will the Jews start asking ‘what would Jesus do’?”

Israel’s Secretary of Pro-Life Sucks Cabinet, Saif Yosef, speaking at Monday’s press conference had this to say: “The ‘right to life’ is a red herring. Choice is a necessary part of democracy. And Israel is a democracy. So, when Palestinians choose to live in Gaza, Israel can likewise choose to take their lives away.”

This week, Condelezza Rice crawled out from her feces filled burrow under a rock and commended Israel’s pro-choice stance: “As a woman, I know how important it is to have choice and freedom over one’s body. And being able to choose to direct American made smart bombs into schools and apartments is not only a sign of a strong democratic society, its pretty fucking cool. You’ve seen those coffee mugs that read ‘Life begins at Forty’? Well I have one that says, ‘Life ends at Gaza’. I got it for my fortieth birthday from Rumsfeld.”

American Christian Extremists with strong support for Israel have distanced themselves from the country which will host their savior’s battle against the evil doers at Armageddon.
Said Elizabeth Toole, a Christian Extremist during a break of homeschooling her eleven children: “Taking life is just wrong. Me and my husband will now have to schedule a pipe bombing of the Israeli consolate along with the Planned Parenthood office this afternoon. Its gonna be a busy week. God give us strength!”


Reported by Ryan McGivern

My younger brothers Allen and Hank wrote a poem on the back of some printed Mapquest directions, the only paper available during their three day stay at a remote cabin in Vermont:

Directions to me:

1. Head towards my eyes,
2. Take a left when our eyes meet,
3. Whisper “I love you,” as you merge into conversation,
4. Stop talking and listen,
5. Bring our hands together at the connector of my life and yours,
6. Exit the crowded party in the back of the room,
7. Kiss me at the awkward intersection of silence and conversation,
8. Go to my house at Rt. 69
9. Arrive at me.

Retha, a volunteer at work, told me she saw this:

Dude, I kick your ass at self-awareness.

It is snowing in Seattle and has been for a week.  Initially it was idyllic, brightening the gray Seattle winter.  But now it has turned to muddy ice and slush and going outside is a messy occupation.

Thus, let’s journey back to warmer sunnier memories, my trip with Courtney up the Washington Coast on July 4th.

We took a ferry and met some wind

We took a ferry from Anacortes and met some wind.

I look like one of those trolls.

My hair reminds me of those toy trolls.

Sometimes I close my eyes and I go here.

Sometimes I close my eyes and I go here.

I think this was Anacortes.  This band has some groupies.

Inside Port Angeles. This band has groupies.

Some sort of Beauty Queen, perhaps sponsored by The Flying-O Truck Stop.  Walking on the boardwalk on heals is an ambitious pursuit, and enteraining to walk behind.

Some sort of Beauty Queen, perhaps sponsored by The Flying-O Truck Stop. Those yellow shoes really ties the outfit together, don't ya think?

Walking behind

Walking on the boardwalk in heals is an ambitious pursuit and entertaining to walk behind.

This fellow was tempting fate.  I think his name is Travis.

This fellow was tempting fate. I think his name is Travis.

Fools in love!!

Fools in love!!

Someone had fun illustrating the dangers of electricity.

Someone had fun illustrating the dangers of electricity.

If this were my mother, Id be a different person.

If this were my mother, I'd be a different person.

The man and baby on the right got style.

The man and baby on the right got style.

Then we went to some hot springs and met a naked hippy and some Minnesotans and this woman who just loved to hike.  Oh, the sweet smell of sulfur!!  It brings me home.

Then we went to some hot springs and met a naked hippy. a hot and heavy couple, some Minnesotans and this woman who just loved to hike. Oh, the sweet smell of sulfur!! It brings me home.

Here are the Minnesotans.  They invited us to some Tex Mex!

Here are the Minnesotans. Beth and Liz invited us to some Tex Mex! Although in the photo it looks like Liz is grilling sticks.

You know, taking our own picture.

You know, taking our own picture, awkward style with one arm pointing the camera towards us with little or no accuracy.

Time for some wine on the beach!  Biatch.

Time for some wine on the beach! Biatch.

Playing in the sand, in case you couldnt tell.  We were making mazes for miniature sand crabs.

Playing in the sand, in case you couldn't tell. We were making mazes for miniature sand crabs.

A tasty finale!

A tasty finale!

“Hard Candy Christmas”, discovered at SLOG.

By Seattle artist Jesse Higman. Find him here and discovered on SLOG.


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