PostDeleuze? pt II


Responses to my last post are here and here at Agent Swarm.

Iain Hamilton Grant recently gave a talk in London where he pseudo-jokingly stated that we are merely coffee drinking carbon molecules. This kind of statement which deterritorializes (or more in the Schellingian sense ungrounds) what human beings are is central to the posthuman (particularly in regards to whether this post- is temporal or not (it usually has more of a temporal connotation when skewed with transhumanism coming singularity etc.). That human beings are not human, or are only roughly bound up in meat sacks that we can call people, is a point that’s become fairly prevalent whether its due to our being meshworks (DeLanda or Morton with a non-Deleuzian emphasis), being bounded light (Bergson) or any other energetic flow bounded up or functioning as some kind of aggregate.

This atlas of the human microbinome is helpful in illustrating this on a biological level.

That being said the ‘?’ following PostDeleuze is meant to be as uncertain as it seems if not a little provacative because of the way Deleuze is used as an odd metaphysical (but perhaps not purely metaphysical) backdrop for quite a bit of work done in New Materialisms and Posthumanism. As I mentioned in my last post, Cyberfeminism occupies a sort of forgotten place inbetween these bodies of theory and takes on another interesting twist given Sadie Plant and Luciana Parisi as part of the CCRU (Speculative Realism’s prehistory).

In terms of post- and time, on the one hand it seems like we’ve never gotten to Deleuze in that, at least how he is often utilized in the aforementioned backdrop kind of way, he’s often introduced as if he’s had no impact on theory but enacted as if everyone should already understand him. Maybe this would put a smile on Deleuze’s face as it puts his work in a kind of weird pregnant present, in a capsule of virtual time.

This kind of temporality is at odds and also supports the ungrounding/deterritorializing model as it on the one had seems necessary to always hold thought on the side as it digs up what is human to reveal that it’s far less human than it seemed but also always runs the risk of poisoning the well with anthrocentrism. Luciana Parisi’s Abstract Sex is a very useful use of Deleuze particularly as it applies to biology and, particularly towards the end, shares much in common with N. Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman. Both texts assert that the post- in posthuman is really a marker of shift in understanding of the human and not temporal – the issue being of course how deep that transformation goes, whether turning humans into bundles of information makes them less than human (especially in a humanist sense of human or liberal humanist subject) – what is human about humans?

I’m still running through several post human texts but what’s left of the human (without circling around the subject) troubles Thierry Bardini (Junkware) and perhaps Parika (Insect Media) but to a lesser extent. With the temporal dimension taken out, or without posthumanism simply meaning transhuman (in the hyper cybernetic sense) and then the task becomes how the posthuman is different (or not) from the inhuman or nonhuman. The issue is how inhuman is the human after Deleuze – how inhuman can thought be and still be philosophy as he constructs it?


5 Responses to “PostDeleuze? pt II”

  1. Thanks for reporting another great IHG one-liner, Ben. Re: posthumanism, I’m an admirer of Hayle’s book, but I think that a lot of posthumanist writings in the academic humanities is deeply muddled by its uncritical deployment of critical theory. ‘Humanism’ gets used indifferently as a label for broadly transcendentalist philosophies of subjectivity and positions that are largely independent of transcendentalism such as liberalism and the belief in anthropological invariants. See, for example,

  2. Re: “merely coffee drinking carbon molecules”. Nothing merely about it. Because, well, we’re drinking. Action. That’s the thing any philosophy of “transhumanism” needs to struggle with. And whatever else one may say about the cybernetic version of the transhuman, it’s still really just speculation. We can conceptually turn humans into “meat sacks” or “bundles of information”, but none of us can actually avoid embodiment. Maybe in an era that renders everything into (virtual) abstractions, this concept is more important than ever to consider. And engage with. A bias borne of being an historian and philosopher of medicine, perhaps, but you’ve got to admit, it’s kind of hard to ignore. Like getting up in the morning…

  1. 1 (3) On The Need For Counter-Histories: Pluralise The Temporalities | AGENT SWARM
  2. 2 NOO-NAUTICS: Ben Woodard’s Pluralist Paradox of Demarcation | AGENT SWARM
  3. 3 Searching for Sadie Plant « Naught Thought

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