For this entry, I will be referencing Kristi's entry "Is Natural Extinct?", posted on November 6, 2010, under the category "9: Genetic Engineering (Nov 5)".
Is Natural extinct? I think this is a very interesting question to frame a discussion about genetic engineering and this week's topic, particularly Building Democratic Sciences. To ask if natural is extinct is to imply that "it" as compromising "something" with subject hood, came into existence, and by some means, has perhaps gone out of existence. It separates "us", "me", or "I", from the compromised "natural", therefore allowing us to distance ourselves from "it". It further reinforces our hierarchical relations with the non-I, other I's, and the universe as a whole. It treats "natural" as something to be studied, articulated, extorted, protected, developed, etc.
What if we throw away our hierarchies? What if we see ourselves as bodies lost together in this lonely blue planet. I am reminded of the words of the late Carl Sagan on our "pale blue dot"...here is an excerpt:
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Can we integrated these imaginary I's into this idea of natural? What if we see ourselves as billions of I's, struggling for the same things, after all, are we not nothing more then a groupings of cells, trying to reproduce?
The following quotes from Jeffrey Cohen's "An Unfinished Conversation About Glowing Green Bunnies" in Queering the Non/Human further tease out the ideas I am trying to address:
"I think of nature as being like god: it doesn't actually exist, but we humans posit it retroactively as a kind of unified entity in order to view agency, unity, and significance where those things are not necessarily found".
"If I'm not horrified by her glow, it's because I'm not convinced that a boundary (natural/unnatural) has in fact been crossed: what has been queered is the very notion that such a boundary existed in the first place".
"Reproduction, the foundation of the natural (and whose presence as such makes it the bête noire [avoided subject] of queer theory?), is also an assault on agency, perhaps the assault on agency..."
From these quotes, I summarize that as creatures, we are born without choice onto this world, and with this birth, imparted onto us is the I. The idea of I as separate from the non-I is cemented as we become "civilized". By queering and critically analyzing our relationships between each other, the "natural", "nonnatural", "contaminated", "human", and "nonhuman", we can challenge the very structures that perpetuate undemocratic practices, institutions, sciences that privilege capital (and social signifies of it), while marginalizing others. What is left? A sense of wholeness, belonging, and a commitment to community.