NANOTERROR.doc - THE AFFECT OF NANOTERROR Luciana Parisi Steve Goodman 0 Fear futurity The history of bioterror stretches back at least to the 6th


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THE AFFECT OF NANOTERRORLuciana Parisi& Steve Goodman0. Fear & futurity The history of bioterror stretches back at least to the 6th century BC, when the Ayssrians attempted to poison the wells of their enemies with rye ergot. In the 15th century Hernando Cortez conquered the Aztec civilization with fewer than 600 men aided by a small pox epidemic to which the Spaniards were immune. It has beennoted that, shortly after – during his conquest of South America - Pizzaro enhanced his chances of victory by giving the natives gifts ofclothing imbued with the variola virus. 300 years later, Napoleon made use of swamp fever in an attempt to overpower the citizens of Mantua. In the 20th century, from the infamous Japanese bioterror agency, Unit 731 (formed in 1936), through to the reassignment of the US Army Medical unit as the Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (1969), bioterror has attained increasing significance in global warfare. In the last 15 years, its role in the field of terrorism has intensified, from the activities of Aum Shinrikyo in Tokyo in the 1990s right through to the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. The implications of this evolution of bioterrorism cannot be understood without reference to the complementary functioning of the affective and the viral. To this end, we will seek to qualify the notion of terror in five interrelated but distinct ways. Step by step, the switch from one sense of terror to the next plunges us into the domain of dark matter: terror as intensified fear; bioterror as the organic fear of microbial invasion; microterror as bacterial contagionand nanoterror as the biosensation of the atomic unraveling of matter. What links these modes of terror is the prescient contact with incipient entities: the virtual. In the early 1990s, Brian Massumi described fear as our overriding affective syndrome, the 'inherence in the body of the multicausal matrix … recognizable as late capitalist human existence' (1993: 12).In the early 21st century we must push this analysis further. Taking bioterrorism as a prototypical distillation of the fears of the human security system, we map the continuum of asymmetric conflict whichcuts across the fields of both neuroaffective and biomolecular immunology. From the mass modulation of mood via affective epidemics, to the release of viral spores into oblivious populations, fear or apprehension, as the future lurking in the present, becomes a starting point for a discussion of cybernetic control and becoming. These affective syndromes, dread, or ominous anticipation, are modes of sensitized contact with bodies not yet actualized. In the age of the simulation of epidemic dynamics, control shifts from deterrence to ambient catastrophe engrained into the microphysical
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fabric. Control no longer attempts merely to stop an unwanted future from happening, but switches towards the rule of the pre-emptive strike whose very intervention, in a strange paradoxical feedback, activates the future at every turn. Fear itself becomes the weapon. But while fear is known to heighten sensation, sensitizing
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  • Spring '14
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