Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities


Scott Wilson.

This paper discusses how the notion of literature as an excessive form that acknowledges, ‘no other law than that of affirming … its own precipitous existence’ (Foucault, OT: 300), has become the model for technoscience as it reconfigures the form and function of life and thought. The paper looks at the necessarily fictional ways in which technoscience must imagine the survival of thought in a variety of differently embodied forms.

In The Order of Things, Foucault argues that language liberated itself from nineteenth-century linguistics in the sovereign form of literature. In his commentary on that book, Gilles Deleuze suggests that both life and labour followed language by taking on the same excessive form as literature. Life broke free from biology by taking a leap into molecular biology, regrouping in the genetic code, and labour broke free from economics by becoming reconfigured in cybernetics and information technology. In contrast, then, to both the force of infinity, characterizing Foucault’s ‘Classical age’, and the force of finitude, characterizing the age of modernity, the latest epistemic formation is shaped by a new situation of force in which ‘a finite number of components yields a practically unlimited diversity of combinations’ (131) in a process I discuss as ‘technobiopoiesis’.

‘Technobiopoiesis’ is a process of writing, in an expanded sense, that precipitates Life in a fictional direction, in a passage ‘that traverses both the livable and the lived’ (Deleuze: 2000).


Scott Wilson  (United Kingdom)
Head of Department
Institute for Cultural Research
Lancaster University

My publications include Cultural Materialism (Blackwell, 1995) and, with Fred Botting, The Tarantinian Ethics (Sage, 2001) and Bataille (Palgrave, 2001). I am the co-editor of The Bataille Reader and Bataille: A Critical Reader (Blackwell, 1997). I am also co-editor of the Journal for Cultural Research published by Taylor & Francis.

  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Biology
  • Life
  • Technology
  • Biotechnology

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)