“Posthuman” as apocalyptic reflection: surviving the terror of symbolic castration in the Anthropocene

Aktiviteetti: EsitelmäKonferenssiesitelmä


The emergence of the Anthropocene as more than an unrepresentable crisis, the proposed paper argues, correlates with an apocalyptic reflection on modern subjectivity. The crisis barely coheres around the paradoxical inception of human subjectivity as a geophysical force that has upended the modern faith in subject/object dualism; rather than a disaster, or even an empirical condition, it refers to an unrepresentable monstrosity: the uncanny insertion of discontinuity into the symbolised continuity of human subjectivity. By contrast, the representability of the Anthropocene as “the end” coincides with the devolution of the epistemic privilege hitherto staked on “the human.” The reflexive problematisation of human subjectivity, precisely from the “posthuman” perspective, stands as an apocalyptic event in the pre-modern sense: it reveals as much as it wreaks havoc. The event does not merely announce the end of human subjectivity; more crucially, it unmasks the human as inherently afflicted with symbolic castration. Henceforth, the everyday s/he will be burdened with the damning reflection “why am I that subject?” Where a reversal of symbolic perspective marks the Anthropocene’s apocalyptic moment, human subjectivity is circumscribed to face its fantasmatic potency as a terrifying actuality — so to say, to survive its own end. “Can you bear the life that you have?” is the prevailing posthuman-to-human catechism whereby subjectivity is tied to turning the tables on the afflictive symbolic order. In such Lacanian terms, the proposed paper seeks to understand the politics of representing “the end” as an art of surviving it. From Dürer’s Melencolia to the paradigmatic Utopia, semiotic potentiality substitutes for the “lost” human potency. Likewise, “posthuman” denotes less a symbol of insurgence than an insurgent symbolisation. The apocalypse thus represents; that is, by hacking the symbolic order.
Aikajakso18 lokak. 2019
Tapahtuman otsikkoImagining the Apocalypse Conference - The Courtauld Institute of Art
Tapahtuman tyyppiKonferenssi
SijaintiLondon, Iso-BritanniaNäytä kartalla