loving death as a way of life

Necro-power and the milieu of the blowfly:

Memo - Necro-power and the milieu of the blowfly - loving death as a way of life.jpg

loving death as a way of life


In 1952 Georges Canguilhem opened his paper “The Living and Its Milieu” stating that “The notion of milieu is in the process of becoming a universal and obligatory means o f registering the experience and existence of living things, and one could almost speak of its constitution as a basic category of contemporary thought.” While his premonition may not have come to pass, the notion of milieu may be thought about as neither context nor environment – both of which may be left and arrived at or visited – but rather as that which is always present but ever changing. In this panel, we wish to open questions concerning ‘Death and Its Milieus.’ Signatures of new materialisms – vitalisms, multispeciesalities, imminences, and transcorporealities – lend themselves nicely to thinking becoming in politically and philosophically important ways which frequent affirmative dismantlings of boundaries and limits, cultivating and promoting the traversal tendencies of life, peoples, and technologies to subvert (under-turn) or overt (to open or open to view) rigidity, stillness, and fixity. However, those who study, participate, and experience death, decay, breakdown, erosion/corrosion, may have much to contribute to the analysis of becomings across thresholds of death. From the ‘Physics of Failure’ to astronomers studying the ‘death of stars’, from Dance Mecobre practices to mortuary sciences, from hospice care to forensic investigations, from battle field medics to executioners, what do the situated knoweldges of these practices tell us about material becomings? What is the milieu of death? If ‘history is always present’ in the marks, cuts, traces, or inscriptions of materialaity, how do processes of becoming-not achieve and escape their being?

Necropolitics offers a theoretical framework of addressing such questions. Instead of talking death being a returning – from dust to dust – this should rather be seen as a multispecies bricolage, deconstruction, and reconstruction. Life loves dead life, little is left behind. Dead life becomes a playground for life – mulchpiles our bodies become, repositories of our life´s healthy and unhealthy habits.

Some quotes that have something to do with something

“life always presents itself as an effort” - Toward a Philosophy of History, Ortega y Gasset

To live is to spread out; it is to organize a milieu starting from a central reference point that cannot itself be refereed to without losing its original meaning” - “The Living and Its Milieu,” Canguilhem

“According to Lamarck, […] Adaptation is a repeated effort on the part of life to continue to 'stick' to an indifferent milieu” - “The Living and Its Milieu,” Canguilhem

Life, said Bichat, is the collection of functions that resist death. In Lamarck's conception, life resists only by transforming in order to outlive itself” - “The Living and Its Milieu,” Canguilhem

By rooting adaptive phenomena in necessity which means both pain and impatience, Lamarck was focusing on the point where life coincides with its own meaning, where through its sensory experience, the living situates itself absolutely, for better or worse, in existence: the indivisible totally of organism and milieu” - “The Living and Its Milieu,” Canguilhem

“Forgetting that bodily waste must go somewhere allows us to imagine ourselves as rarefied rational beings distinct from nature’s muck and muddle.”
- Almino, Bodily Natures, p. 8.

“understanding the substance of one’s self as interconnected with the wider environment marks a profound shift in subjectivity. As the material self cannot be disentangled from networks that are simultaneously economic, political, cultural, scientific, and substantial, what was once the ostensibly bounded human subject finds herself in a swirling landscape of uncertainty where practices and actions that were once not even remotely ethical or political matters suddenly become the very stuff of the
crises at hand.”
- Almino, Bodily Natures, p. 20.


Usually the first on ‘the scene’ of carrion.


Some flowers have mimicked the smell of rotting flesh – known as carrion, the word for rotting flesh, flowers – so as to attract blowflies to them and trick them into pollinating.

The first name of blow-fly found in Shakespeare. Meet with maggots were referred to as fly blown meet

Flies are cold blooded, but produce an impressive amount of heat with their movement and in their metamorphosis from egg to adult.

They love the smell of death, but what produces that smell?

The 5th ‘stage of death’ known as purification:
When a body dies, oxygen is cut off and slowly the mitochondria in cells stop working wherein they, e essentially, die. Enzymes within the cells keep on working, however, and breakdown the cells in which they are found. This is what enzymes do: they break things down, but normally they are more ‘controlled demolitions’ when being directed by a living host. The enzymes turn the host’s cells into a fertile and enticing environment for the bacteria in our gut. This, afterall, is what the bacteria in our gut is used to: having its meals prepared by enzymes in our mouth and saliva. Now with essentially the entire body salivating, the gut bacteria go to work consuming organs and tissues, and breaking down whatever it can feast on. During this process, two compounds are produced that are associated with ‘the smell of death’, the aptly called putrecine and cadaverine, as well as the sulfates dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide. These are what attract the blowfly.

lysosomal enzyme:

Lysosomal enzymes are the family of enzymes that breakdown our food and our bodies (referred to above). The etymology of ‘lysosomal’ means ‘to loosen body’

Body Farms
research facilities for forensic entomology, forensic anthropology, and other decomposition studies

Six facilities exist within the US (Tennessee, 2 in Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado)

Joel-Peter Witkin
Artist who uses corpse in still-life photographs, sometimes with live bodies

Material-semiotic Discursive Shifts
What are the material-discursive shifts that occur from life, death, post-life/post-death?
What chemicals, molecules, or enzymes shift in their relations and productions across these differences?
What is the difference between post-life and post-death?