SERRES/LATOUR

BL …it seems to me that there is a double test—first you link Baal and the Challenger, then they have to exchange their properties in a symmetrical fashion. We are supposed to understand the Carthaginians’ practice of human sacrifice by immersing ourselves in the Challenger event, but, inversely, we are supposed to understand what technology is through the Carthaginian religion.

MS Yes, the reasoning is more or less symmetrical…We could construct a kind of dictionary that would allow us to translate, word by word, gesture by gesture, event by event, the scene at Cape Canaveral into the Carthaginian rite, and vice versa…the respective cost of the operation, comparable for the two communities, the immense crowd of spectators, the specialists who prepare it and who are apart from the rest, the ignition, the state-of-the-art machinery in both cases, given the technology of the two eras, the organized or fascinated rehearsal of the event, the death of those enclosed in the two statues, whose size dominates the surrounding space, the denial…–“No those aren’t humans, but cattle,” cry even the fathers of the incinerated children in Carthage; “No,” we say “it wasn’t on purpose, it wasn’t a sacrifice, but an accident,” inevitable, even calculable, through probabilities….The series of substitutions functions exactly like stitches, like mending a tear, like making a nice tight overcast seam…Each term of the translation passes on a piece of thread, and at the end it may be said that we have followed the missing hyphens between the two worlds. Baal is in the Challenger, and the Challenger is in Baal; religion is in technology; the pagan god is in the rocket; the rocket is in the statue; the rocket on its launching pad is in the ancient idol—and our sophisticated knowledge is in our archaic fascinations.”
(159-160).

BL But you are always tripping up your readers; you are always operating simultaneously on two opposing fronts. When they think they are reading about collective society, you bring them back to things, and then, when they think they are reading about the sciences, you bring them back to society. They go from Baal to the Challenger and then from the Challenger to Baal!”

MS Its a magnificent paradox, which I savor. To walk on two feet appears to mean tripping everyone up. Is this proof, then, that we always limp?” (142)

MS All around us language replaces experience. The sign, so soft, substitutes itself for the thing, which is hard. I cannot think of this substitution as an equivalence. It is more of an abuse and a violence. The sound of a coin is not worth the coin; the smell of cooking does not fill the hungry stomach; publicity is not the equivalent of quality; the tongue that talks annuls the tongue that tastes or the one that receives and gives a kiss.” (p. 132)

MS There is no pure myth except the idea of a science that is pure of all myth. (p. 162)

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