tissue | organ

1.

Date: Monday 24 Oct 2011
Subject: organogenesis


It seems from google-shopping, which led me to the major textbook "Biology" (Campbell & Reece), that:

* cells form into tissue layers (up to 3 types)
* and then these 'germ layers' differ by folds, splits and condensations (dense clustering).

So my intuition of tissues-that-fold-to-become-organs was perhaps a third right.
I'm going to check this shit out!


L

2.

Date: Friday 28 Oct 2011
Subject: RE: organogenesis


Hi Poet-Ess

Emergent existence can't be based on a a single model/process is we are thinking about some consistent form or formula - otherwise all the world would look alike, which means we'd have no world > nothing would be differentiated; bland vague-out.

But what if we thinking about basic dynamics, that are generative (they have to be, if we are to think of things the emerge from them) and in their generating force they don't pre-determine the end results, nor do they guarantee the end results look so much alike. Eg, the same generative dynamic responsive for spherical bubbles in water results in cuboid crystals in minerals (this is the process of molecular fields adopting their most energy-efficient formations).

And then what if we abstract the generative dynamics to their logics? Maybe at that basic level, not much is going on, maybe it (and thus existence) is one.
Or, not one, but the one-that-is-two. Which is what I call 'basic differentiation'. The pushing-that-is-also-pulling. Or as The Aura would say, and Deleuze it turns out: zig zag-ing.

Now, why would I guess that 'folding' is what tissues (non-hierarchical fields of the same stuff) would do to form organs (hierarchical structures)?
It's because I interpret tissues vs organs as side-by-side-ness vs inside-outside-ness.
And how do you take something that is just a morphological 'flat' side-by-side thing and turn it into something with an inside and thus outside? Curve the flat thing over itself, or something else, until it forms a vessel/structure/house/cup/room/box/covering.

I've been listening to one of the Ivy-league universities courses on biology 101 via iTunes U.
I haven't got to tissues and organs yet, but it turns out that something very similar (I'd say similar morphologically, and probably identical in terms of the morphogenetic dynamic) when looking at components that make up cells. In this case, proteins and their folding (really actually called 'protein folding'). So proteins start out as long strings of amino acid molecules (polypeptides), in a 'random' coil (squiggle really). And then, due to the order, structure and polarity of aminos, the proteins fold up into a myriad of 3D structures, and it's the proteins' physical 3D structures that give each protein a different function. How does the random strong fold? In two phases. Firstly, it coils up in a 3D spiral or angles-back-and-forth (like an old telephone cord or zig zag) so it creates a solidity of sorts (which literally, not figuratively, is a curving/bending over of itself into a structure). Then this coils goes through another stage of folding - various larger-scale folds, curves, angles which create a final complex shape (as Deleuzians would say: a double folding over, or double articulation). Then these shapes can even gang up together (not folding on itself, but curving over one another -- ie, the way two cups can be brought together to create a contained inside-outside structure).

schematic: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a6/Protein-structure.png/300px-Protein-structure.png
more detailed: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Protein_folding.png

So polypeptide | protein = tissue | organ = side-by-side | inside-outside
Or rather, polypeptide | protein 'is an emergence of' side-by-side| inside-outside; and tissue | organ 'is an emergence of side-by-side | inside-outside
A soup of atoms vs those atoms joining up in various structures to form molecules is yet another version

These difference strata can look and feel very different, because what exists as each stratum has it's own materiality (the stata of atoms, molecules, proteins, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, creatures, for instance).

Just before you say that side-by-side | inside-outside is quite reductive, binary etc, and simple, it has a lot of varieties of itself.

  S -- side-by-side
  Ss -- side-by-side sidling up to another side-by-side
  IO -- inside-outside
  I -- just inside
  Ii -- inside with another inside
  Oo -- outside with another outside
  O -- just outside
  Io -- inside with now a different outside
  iO -- outside with now a different inside
  
  and then

  S+IO -- side-by-side with inside-outside
  S > IO -- side-by-side turning into inside-outside (what I've talked about above)
  IO > S -- vice versa
  IO minus S -- inside-outside that removes side-by-side
  S minus IO -- vice versa

  and

  IOio
  S+IO
  Ss+IOio
  SIsO
  siso

  etc

3.

Sent: Monday 7 November 2011
Subject: RE: organogenesis


Hey Poet-Ess

Thanks for your reply. No probs 'privileging your practice' which is so right (as an idea) but so odd (as a phrase)! The odd-ness I suppose is that such things are not the default of our institution.

* So it seems we might have some overlapping, even, joint, ambition. Of going beyond the inside-outside-ness of things. My question to you, which is also for me, is: why? ie, what is the need or desire to get beyond or around or 'outside of' the inside-outside thing (as you see, all these metaphors are wrong, since they imagine an outside to the inside-outside, which is to just continue on in an inside-outside vein). And thus, what's the problem with inside-outside?

Could be a range of reasons/issues here. Inside-outside is very productive. The productive force of distinction-making and articulation (where articulation means to articulate one thing away from and/or in relation to another). I see this as a function of human language, but also biology. The organism has a membrane, of course porous but nevertheless distinct, which articulates it as having an inside (themselves) which migrates through and interacts with the outside (the rest of the ecology). This inside-outside is the productive force of not just the organism but also the organ and the cell and the organelle (in the case of those organism that have multiple cells, organelles and organs). And also the molecule, the atom, the nucleus etc. That's to dive into scales that are 'sub' the organism, but also the case for scales that are 'super' to it, like the group-of-organisms (herd, family, community, society etc). But the left-side of the humanities also wants to emphasise the destructive perspective of inside-outsides. Fair enough, in that any production/creation is also destruction/consumption. We can see how inside-outsides in society produce marginality, ignored-others, distance, power centres, etc etc and the history of Western politics, economics and sociality in the last few hundred years offers us up a lot of example of how inside-outside-ness can really suck, for those on the outside. But this destructive quality of inside-outside is not especially human (although perhaps we do it differently and in more complexities); all organisms do this. I'd hate to be the males that are sent packing when the uber male wins the fight and gets all the girls. I'd hate to be the girls that get pushed about by the males. I'd hate to be the animals that get eaten and end up on the inside of carnivores. Likewise, I'd love to get other things on into my insides to feed and satisfy me.

Given the production-destruction of inside-outside-ness, what is useful in getting beyond it? Is this is space/place/moment/method of more production and less destruction -- ie, is there an ethical imperative? For me, I'm thinking there is some 'balance' to be got from knowing when and how to embrace inside-outside-ness, and when and how to go beyond it. We need both, in order to evolve and love (which might be one and the same thing at some level).

* Deleuze and no-polar models... Well, consider what he and G talk about in terms of "simple oppositions and complex differences" at the end of 1000 Plateaus (I just re-read this over the weekend). In this statement, they are referring to smooth vs striated but in effect they are referring to all of their polarities, or rather dualities. Namely: nomadic | sedentary; rhizome | aboreal; molar | molecular; bodies without organs | organised bodies; smooth | striated; intensive | extensive and so on. If there is a 'trick' to their form of polarity, it's that they mark out zones that are not strictly oppositional in the sense of two things at either end of the same spectrum. Eg imagine black vs white. You could have black vs white on the spectrum of luminosity (0% through to 100% -- that's polar, as in poles of a spectrum); but you could also have two different planes, like "absorbing any/all colour" (that's what black things do) and "reflecting any/all colour" (that's what white things do) and thus absorption vs reflection becomes a duality that isn't polar because they don't reside on the same spectrum (you could have a quality of reflectivity that overlaps, cuts across or threads through a quality of absorption). My rehearsal of IOs vs Ss below is a algebraic example of this idea of "simple opposition and complex difference".

* But to talk of Deleuze's dualities, and to speak of inside-outside-ness at all scales of biology, sociology and physics, is to get at something else in your thoughts below. And that's got to do with issues of:

- metaphors/demonstrations/models/principles/single logics
- description/prediction vs generalisation

There's very important issues of conceptual thinking methods wrapped up in all this. When is generalisation useful? When is description useful. What is a metaphor or trope of similarity versus when is something predicated on the 'same' principle/logic. I think any analysis or concept is going to have some generalisation about it. How could it otherwise. In fact that is what language and thinking generally does, doesn't it? To speak of one thing or another, or things in general, is to conjure up a category which has more than one thing within it - for things to be things, they have to exist in the category, or plane, or spectrum, or taxonomical chapter, of things, and always vs not-things. This is just to re-iterate the inside-outside-ness of language, I guess. So generalisation is always going to happen, even within the densest of descriptions. So what's the problem here? I'm thinking there is some sort of pragmatic test: that a generalisation is useful in so much as it helps us get a better purchase on living the sort of life we think is worth living.

Now, the problem I think comes up when a process specific to one strata of existence is taken as the formal model for another strata, when instead there could be a dynamic process/principle/logic that is general but the way any of it happens in each strata is very much wrapped up in the materiality of that strata. Take 'evolution' for instance. I take evolution to be the generative force of the dynamic duality of innovation vs conservation -- that is, processes of variation (that offer up the new) in duality with processes of selection (that reduce variation for sake on continuance of one variety in particular). In cellular existence (bio-forms), evolution is found in processes of genetic variation through genetic mutation, genetic drift and other processes, whilst selection/conservation is via natural selection, sexual selection passed on via hereditary processes (and for humans, and some other species, in 'cultural learning' processes too). All well and good. But then we have had a whole lot of people wanting to explore evolutionary processes beyond the strata of cellular existence - especially when in come to human/social existence. And the problem has been porting across some specific materialities of cellular strata. Eg, the (now largely abandoned) attempt at finding the cultural "meme" that functions like the cellular "gene". Similarly, you were hinted at attempts to port across 'natural selection' issues into social worlds.

So when can we say something is operating under the 'same' generative principles, and when are we being 'metaphoric'?

Take inside-outside for instance. That's clearly a spatial metaphor, but what is the generative principle underneath this, that language might be involved in? I think we could say that inside-outside is a process of identity-formation, where 'identity' means a configuration (of any sort) that has some sort of condensed existence that endures within, interacts with, and takes 'resources' out of, and feed 'waste' into, the surrounding ecology/environment/context. That's a convoluted way of say, inside-outside is the process of sustaining an "object" or "organism" or "organ". But again, that's hardly the sole domain of language, unless we understand language as code/algorithm which we find throughout existence. In which case we might say that the inside-outside-ness of language is the organ-producing effects of code.

* Lastly, I've been wondering for a while what is beyond inside-outside. What I came a while back, via ambience, is what I am still thinking these days: that the only thing that isn't part of the logic of inside-outside is something that cut-through it entirely: side-by-side. But how does side-by-side | inside-outside relate. It's a duality, I think, that is another version of smooth|striated and all the other dualities of D&G that more-or-less map up against each other. And, just to be clear, I was saying that tissue | organ and polypetide | proteins are versions of this -- within their own material strata, that is.

  How to get into side-by-side? (and when does side-by-side-ness come into existence?)
  How to get into inside-outside (and when does inside-outside-ness come into existence?)
  How might these relate? And how could we better relate with, and through, them?

I ask these as much as genuine question to you, as much as they are for me.
So very keen to find out what you think about all this.


L

4.

Date: Monday 7 Nov 2011
Subject: RE: organogenesis


Poet-Ess

Regards the "(single?) underlying principlines" stuff, I'm quite taken by the arguments of Manuel Delanda who talks about "engineering diagrams" which is probably a way of saying 'generative principle', and he claims that's what Deleuze means by "abstract machine". See this essay http://www.t0.or.at/delanda/geology.htm

In the essay he muses that..

The dichotomy between strata and meshworks [one of Delanda's key dualities -- strata|meshworks -- adopted via D&G] can be usefully applied in a wide variety of contexts. For instance, animal species may be considered biological instantiations of a stratified structure while ecosystems may be treated as meshworks. This raises the question of whether some (or most) of the applications of these terms are purely metaphorical. There is, no doubt, some element of metaphor in my use of the terms, but behind the appearance of linguistic analogy there are, I believe, common physical processes behind the formation of real meshworks and strata which make all the different usages of the terms quite literal. These common processes cannot be captured through linguistic representations alone and we need to move to the realm of engineering diagrams to specify them.

Perhaps a concrete example will help clarify this rather crucial point. When we say (as Marxists used to say) that "class struggle is the motor of history" we are using the word "motor" in a purely metaphorical sense. However, when say that "a hurricane is a steam motor" we are not simply making a linguistic analogy: rather we are saying that hurricanes embody the same diagram used by engineers to build steam motors, that is, that it contains a reservoir of heat, that it operates via thermal differences and that it circulates energy and materials through a (so-called) Carnot cycle. Deleuze and Guattari use the term "abstract machine" to refer to this diagram shared by very different physical assemblages. Thus, there would be an "abstract motor" with different physical instantiations in technological objects and natural atmospheric processes."

And then he goes on to argue that 'social strata' have the same underlying generative machinations as 'geological (rock/sediment) strata'. Which I won't quote as it forms the bulk of this essay.

Maybe you'd be suss of this approach??
Love to know what you make of it.


L

6.


Date: Wednesday 7 Mar 2012
Subject: RE: organogenesis


Hey thanks Poet-Ess for your detailed thoughts here.

There's a question here for me about what might be 'common' across different materialities/domains. Eg, commonalities between physical-geological-mechanical and social-cognitive-affective (nature and culture to put it crassly).

This question is dealt with in my book minus 1 on 'ethereal vs stratal'. So perhaps we could take this debate further by you commenting on what I've got to directly say about this. 

... 

Just one thing about the 'common' thing. My solution is to say, almost tautologically, that what is common to different forms of existence is whatever is common to all of existence > ie, what is ethereal all around across all scales, as opposed to things held within one scale. And this ethereality links a lot to my thoughts on ambience, and thus on inside-outside-ness and side-by-side-ness.

...

BTW, I get the worry that if we base social stuff on nature, it can naturalise/mythologise culture to the point of just access things as they are.
But I don't think Delanda would have this view (doesn't mean he isn't unwittingly propagating it).
I'm thinking actually that knowing the historical trajectory of things can also works the other way, not to naturalise but to make contingent/accidental and thus the possibility of change is opened up. But, then, how to change (for me: re-organise inside-outside-ness is various ways).


L