Univ Of Minnesota Press, ISBN: 9780816674657, 232 pages, English, 2011
In “Improper Life” Campbell develops his thought-provoking philosophical writing around the contrast between biopolitics and its current degeneration, which he terms “thanatopolitics” (politics obsessed by death.) The author looks at instances of this idea in the work of famous recent philosophers like Agamben, Esposito and Sloterdijk, and especially on “apparatus” as analyzed by Heidegger and his emblematic theory of “improper writing”. Heidegger’s critique of formalized technology, for example, is at the fore of the discussion about typewriting vs. handwriting, where Campbell affirms that mechanical means for inscribing and communicating are among “the main reasons for the increasing destruction of the word.” The typing of words (which we do all the time now, producing texts with digital machines) is meant for “preserving”, but in fact corrupts the true act of writing. Agamben reinforces this position, affirming that technology de-subjectifies people, making them inert. The author focuses on the use of “techne” for forming the “bíos”, pushing for a positive biopolitics, but not blindly. He dismisses the Sloterdijk’s positive judgment concerning bioengineering (which he calls “anthropotechnical techniques”), as a dangerous product of the market. On the contrary he supports Foucault’s position where techn is opening toward the relational, able to oppose the dismantling of community due to the pervasiveness of communication technologies. The book is a well-argued essay, spicing up the philosophical debate about biopolitics in a sensitive and updated manner.