Becoming Inhuman

We — me, you, everyone we see and know — are enmeshed in various and diverse networks. Or, rather, we are at once enmeshed and constituted by these networks — social, temporal, planetary, biological, affective, traffic.

By which I mean that we are quite literally made up of all these things — not just our genitilia but our notions of genitilia; not just our bodies but the networks that make it and run through it, from blood and nerves to air and food; not just the environment but all the elaborate and ever-changing dynamics of the weather and the sun (everyday I drive from the fog to the sun and back and with each transition, I am transformed); not just our jobs but the global flows of capital and technology.

But if you look at movies and TV, we certainly privilege one network over others: the network we call civilization. That is, other people. I, for one, used to be quite taken with the human condition — with character studies and portraits, with human history, with how people operate.

And while this is of course important — I feel silly having to say that — I now like to explore how I’m made up of the non-human. The weather, for instance, or the taste of tequila or the stature of a cactus or the poise of a tulip; the swell of an ocean or the tumult of a hurricane; the expanse of the sky, the tilt of a dog’s curiosity, the wit of a ginkgo tree (take a good look at gingkos: they can be quite hilarious). This is to say, I see myself in things other than humans.

I do not mean to sound misanthropic. Clearly, my relationship to humanity is privileged. But I find a tremendous liberty as well as wealth of information from positioning humanity as just another network. So rather than my self being intersubjective, it becomes interobjective — or something to that effect.

Or perhaps we can call this identity chiasmatic: I am wound up with the world just as it is wound up with me. And so it is never self-identical at all. It is always marbled. Such, in fact, are the very conditions of perception: in seeing the world, I become (with) the world.

And so while I no doubt come to constitute myself in my relations with others, I’d like to expand this others to include the entire cosmos, visible and invisible. TC mark


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