In his introduction to the third part of his magnificent Spheres trilogy, Peter Sloterdijk talks of three stages of the explication of milieus. Firstly, that of the first ‘chemical warfare’ attack during the First World War in Ieper, France. Secondly, that of the use of Zyklon B in both the German deathcamps and certain American jails. Thirdly, that of the explication of the radioactivity of the air in the aftermath of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki attack. All of these serve to illustrate the process of the explication of the implicit; the first as the explication of living as a condition of breathing, the second as the distinction between an inner and outer milieu and the third of a formerly invisible part of the air – that is, in the last instance, as the making explicit of the invisible. Sloterdijk predicts that, far from coming to an end with the end of the Cold War, climatological and, especially, neurophysiological explications of the implicit (Sloterdijk mainly speaks of military strategies) will become abundant.
While cycling through Amsterdam, yesterday, I was amazed and, partly, shocked when reading on a traffic-sign: ‘in this area DNA Spray can be used’. At first I was convinced it was a protest by an anti-statist social movement, but when I searched on the internet today I found that it was really real. The specific neighbourhood I cycled through was selected as a test area for a technique that is already deployed in certain cities in the V.S. DNA Spray is spread when a thieve robs a store and, successively, leaves the store to make it possible for the police to identify the thieve by matching his DNA with the data available in the police’s database.
Far from being as extravagant as Sloterdijk’s examples – he refers to a 2005 VS report on a neurological weapon to influence the cerebral functioning of the brain and an immense technology to ‘master the weather’ – it did strike me as making an interesting case when conceptualized as being part of the history of immunology as sketched by Sloterdijk. This time as a case of criminological-immunology.