The eccentric cast of Kekkai Sensen, squished together in their ending dance party outfits, illustrated by animation director and key animator Koichi Hayashi (林宏一) for the August issue of Otomedia Magazine (Amazon US | JP).
What does it mean to be trapped in a natural function? Clearly, reproduction has been regarded as quite different from other natural functions, which, on the surface, seem to be equally imbued with necessity; eating, sexuality and dying, for example, share with birth the status of biological necessities. Yet it has never been suggested that these topics can be understood only in terms of natural science. They have all become the subject matters of rather impressive bodies of philosophical thought; in fact, we have great modern theoretical systems firmly based upon just these biological necessities. Dialectical materialism takes as its fundamental postulate the need to eat; Marx has transformed this very simple fact of biological necessity into the breeding ground of a theoretical system of enormous vitality and explanatory utility, in which productive labour remakes our consciousness, our needs and our world. The simple sex-act has been transformed by […] Freud into a theoretical a priori of a system in which libido shapes our consciousness and our world. Death has haunted the male philosophical imagination since Man the Thinker first glimmered into action, and in our time has become the stark reality which preoccupies existentialism, an untidy and passionately pessimistic body of thought in which lonely and heroic man attempts to defy the absurdity of the void which houses his consciousness and his world. The inevitability and necessity of these biological events has quite clearly not exempted them from historical forces and theoretical significance.
We have no comparable philosophies of birth.
Mary O’Brien, The Politics of Reproduction (1981), p.20
Birth was at one time important in a symbolic way to theological visions, mostly with a view to depreciating women’s part, and rendering it passive and even virginal, while paternity took on divine trappings. Reproductive process is not a process which male-stream thought finds either ontologically or epistemologically interesting on the biological level. The human family is philosophically interesting, but its biological base is simply given.
Women cannot be so dense nor so perverse. This male theoretical attidude towards birth is neither natural, accidentical nor conspiratorial. It has a material base, and that base lies in the philosophically neglected and genderically differentiated process of human reproduction itself.
Mary O’Brien, The Politics of Reproduction (1981), p.21.
Maternity is praxis, the unification of action and consciousness of action. The action itself, childbirth, is a mediation between the birth of the individual and the continuity of the race. Female reproductive consciousness is an integrative consciousness, linking the generations in a continuity over time and linking people as equal values. Its mediating force is physical labor as the ground of reproductive knowledge. Male reproductive consciousness, on the other hand, is an alienated consciousness. Paternity is essentially ideal. It is based on concept rather than experience […] It is precisely because technology is now challenging [this] component of reproductive labor that the dialectic of reproduction is emerging in social forms which challenge patriarchal praxis as both a denial of female reproductive experience and a distortion of female reproductive consciousness. It is odd, indeed, that we have still to argue that reproduction is a form of knowledge with profound epistemological significance for women and men, and this fact is itself a massive triumph for patriarchal hegemonic practice.
Mary O'Brien, The Commatization of Women: Patriarchal Fetishism in the Sociology of Education (1984)