Post- post- post- compost. No I, but a thousand authors, composted by different worlds. By material forces and mythical stories. By animal postures and learning codes. By waves of sound and oceanic gods. Have we ever even been human?
Living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sixth Extinction, in the midst of the Anthropocene, confronted with climate change and a revolution in machine learning, where do we start to make sense of the world? These changing conditions point to a future that can no longer be seen as a blank canvas, waiting to be colored by human agents. Other, non-human ‘painters’ shape our future as well, and now it’s up to us to acknowledge those non-human actors. In light of these complexities, the insufficiency of a human-centered worldview is becoming more and more apparent.
Within the humanities, this repositioning of the human condition is examined by a variety of new forms of thought like new-materialism, object-oriented ontology or posthumanism. These emerging fields all contribute in different ways to a repositioning of the human alongside non-human actors. They question the stability of the individuated subject by advocating forms of non-anthropocentric materialist thinking. Moving away from representationalism, the linguistic turn, and social constructivism, these areas engage in the entanglements that make up the different worlds we inhabit.
In this sense, becoming posthuman is a constant process of redefining your sense of attachment and connection to an interconnected world. A process in which the condition of ‘Man’, as the former measure of all things, is relinquished to open up new spaces where we can decide together what and who we are capable of becoming. This positive stance allows for prophetic and speculative thinking to take hold of the affirmative dimensions of the present that lead us into the unfolding of the future.
It’s at this crossroad that the publication you’re holding wants to contribute by approaching the posthuman subject from a variety of perspectives. Yanaika Zomer starts by exploring the potential and the relevance found in Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto (1985), offering a contextual framework to the posthumanist project (although Haraway avoided the term posthuman and preferred to call all of us compost). Taking inspiration from Haraway, Michelle Geraerts looks for the entanglement of the human, the machine and the animal. Such entanglements also resonate throughout Alice Rougeaux’s text, who reconsiders our relationship to matter, by following the implications of the promising – but destructive – material qualities of your Tupperware container. Max Litjens searches for other ways to attune to our world, identifying the potentialities that emerge from posthumanist musical literacies through the work of experimental electronic musician Chino Amobi.
On a different note, Trijsje Franssen asks why it is that we see mythological characters of Hydra and Icarus in the rather futuristic debate on human (bodily) enhancement. An emphasis on the body, as found in posthumanist redrawings of the mind-body dualism, echoes throughout this publication. Ohad Ben Shimon puts the body of Bartleby, Herman Melville’s emblematic figure of resistance, back into the equation when trying to make sense of his ‘preference not to’. Maisa Imamović’s contribution explores how new bodies and their desires, that, like Bartleby, stand looking out of the window, can work together with the mind. Such a new body can perhaps be found in the work of Tobias de Groot who, working with machine learning, creates visual and textual illustrations of digital bodies. What will these new bodies mean for human reproduction? In an artistic text, Sanne van Balen describes a fictional situation of a pregnant curator, where she experiments with this question.
The outcome of this issue tries to expand on Haraway’s Cyborgian interrogation: “Why should our bodies end at the skin?” Thirty years later, Haraway proposes that we look to forming kin relationships with our companion species, with the following statement: “Make kin, not babies.” We are post-post-human in our engagement with our companion species. We are compost.
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#. De kunst van het hercoderen; Wat we kunnen leren van Haraways Cyborg Manifest
#. Your Tupperware Lady has the Freshest Ideas
#. NON Listening; Attuning to a noise-filled world
Sanne van Balen
#. Portfolio; We had created him to think anal sex would feel like taking a dump
#. Burning Neck-stumps or Melting Wings?; Mythology in the Enhancement Debate
#. Grieving Machines Tell Apocalyptic Stories to Birds; A Brief Introduction to the Entanglement of Technology and Ecology through Posthumanism
#. NEW BODIES
#. Bartleby! Ah Immunity!
Ohad Ben Shimon