Posthuman (Madame Bovary)

Posthuman, ubermensch … I’ve been thinking a lot of these terms — they are quite useful. It allows criticism to forge ahead, to think about possible existences without concerning itself, descriptively, with the human today. The posthuman isn’t transcendental — I’m not thinking about Star Trek of course — but it is a human that is able to feed off of nothing. So we’re not thinking about superintelligent jocks or anything either. And this nothing is not merely “hope” … but in any case, the problem with all these formulations is, well, we shouldn’t assume that there is some positive content to the human to begin with. The human is holistic, it is connected to the image, I mean, to the visualizable. The post-human is then linked up with other processes, other cycles.

… I actually insist on the term, post-human, simply because we must be thinking about a new way of life, and the holism of a new way of life, and not merely some moment or some process. For example, if we consider, say, Faulkner’s blacks, then there are a few things that are very interesting about them. They are not transcendant, they pretty much waste their lives just like the rest of us. But they seem to know all about the human, without really being interested in the details — they know about the hypocrisy, the nihilism, the obsession with images, with light and understanding, and so on — and this establishes them as “post-” and not “pre-“. Yet on the other hand they are not entirely divorced from the image themselves, it is not simply a matter of saying that “life is absurd” or something, but rather, they too are stuck at an impasse, ie, what I call “wasting our lives”. And maybe in this sense we are not that different. What is different is the way in which their life, though also lived unto death, if you will, seems to suggest new historiographical possibilities.

Regarding the term, “noble” — should this be applied? I think so, to some extent. I used to say that Hollywood has a horrible time dealing with goodness, in the sense that they always make it out to be something irrational and altruistic — ie, it cannot understand goodness as something natural or even attainable, and thus pushes nobility outside of the scope of everyday consideration. In this sense it is “evil” in the strict sense, which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t serve a useful function. I don’t really oppose harm coming to those that aren’t of my kind, whatever that means. Yet, not noble in the sense of “disinterested”, only, as Nietzsche pointed out, differently intersted, and probably just as hopeless.

Let’s consider Madame Bovary as an example. There is a strange cycle here that ends, I believe, with the book becoming a kind of … central player. The premise of the book seems to be that the vivid youthful or feminine imagination of Emma Bovary becomes something that Flaubert feeds off of and gives voice to. The book is ‘non-representational’ in this sense, in the sense that everything seems fragmented, and charged with some new direction, through her eyes. So she is a woman of spirit — but we must ask, where does this spirit or explosive energy come from? Emma can be characterized neither as a psychopath nor as a kind of buddhist saint, ie, her view of the world is neither wholely distorted by her ambitions nor supernaturally aware of the present. So that, in another view, there is a kind of helplessness to her visions that, interestingly enough, the voice of Flaubert does not mold into holistic, understandable, “human” needs. Perhaps they are negative in the sense that true negativity may actually mean the “suggestive”, ie, something that hovers on the edge of comprehensibility. And though nothing is acheived, there is a holism here on the verge arriving, not only because she dies, but because this sort of experience is already powerful enough to project itself onto the world, as in an engine that reforms reality. The book, then, becomes no longer merely a description of reality wherein posthumanism is possible but the very experience of reality of the posthuman, I mean, the very reality that is yet to come, and yet present, in the sense of, pushing our hand.

 

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