The Neohuman Transition: Forgetting, Erasing, Becoming New

Nothing human makes it out of the near-future.

—Nick Land, Meltdown

So entropy is the wrong word to describe the process at work in both The Ultimate City and Hello America. The clock stopped, but the machine is still there.

—J.G. Ballard, Extreme Metaphors

As I’ve read scholars such as Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Bernard Stiegler, and others of late there has emerged in my thinking a sense that homo sapiens sapiens is transitioning and migrating out of its natural environment which has tied its brain and patterns of behavior and thought for tens of thousands of years, and into a new world of artificiality which is fusing and transforming our synesthetic senses from our animalistic cunning intelligence into a abstract form of thought and feeling unbound from the natural world. Of course the literary visionaries of the second half of the twentieth-century such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard, Stanislaw Lem, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and so many others have all explored this new experimentalism, this neohuman transition we are undergoing from various perspectives, knowing that the human realities constructed by our socio-cultural blinkers and frames of thought and rhetoric were becoming unraveled, unhinged, and unmoored from their age old mythologies and traditions. Nothing new here, and yet it is the power of the new that has and still does pervade the emergence and reemergence of modernity into neomodernity that is bringing us a new vision of neohumanity.

We’ve been going through this process for some time now, and its effects upon our collective and personal psyches has been one of horror and dread. A sense of homelessness, of not belonging, of a disaffiliation with the culture and the world around us pervades many thinkers, writers, and artists since the Enlightenment. Modernism spoke constantly of seeking the new, of becoming other, etc., but in fact was always looking to the past to define its future, holding on to the myths and fictions of that decaying and dying world to shore up its own discomfort at the process it was undergoing. Postmodernists would ironize the process, try to distance themselves from it, make it more abstract and fictional, and even metafictional, playing with the patterns of our ancestral thought forms as if we could just tinker with the past; a cynical ploy that left a mere distaste in one’s mouth. Distance ourselves from our animal heritage and its psychic hooks bounded by a natural mind that would not transcend its mud and slime investments. Such thoughts would lead some to suicide, others to the reactionary worlds of authoritarianism, and still others into a cyberpunk era of street gothic futurism.

Continue reading