We Were Never Human

She met his eyes wide open, broad and inhuman, like the universal eyes of night, judging and damning her act, with remote absolute merciless comprehension. She was like a touched sleepwalker, unnerved and annihilated…

—Robinson Jeffers, Selected Poetry

In Jacques Derrida’s view, we live in a state of originary technicity. It is impossible to define the human as either a biological entity (a body or species) or a philosophical state (a soul, mind or consciousness), he argues, because our “nature” is constituted by a relation to technological prostheses. According to a logic that will be very familiar to readers of his work, technology is a supplement that exposes an originary lack within what should be the integrity or plenitude of the human being itself.1

Against the Lacanian-Derridean metaphysics of “lack” and supplement one would rather follow Deleuze and Guattari who see a fullness and productivity rather than lack that needs supplements at the core of the machinic multiplicity we term the human. (Should we finally rid ourselves of the name “human”? Have we ever been human?) Instead of the humanist and post-structural supplementarianism, let us decenter the human into the non-human, flatten the scales among various technics and technologies. Forget agency, self-reflexive voids, dialectical oscillations are any other derivative of the humanist idealisms of the past two-hundred years. Begin with the machinic as a multiplicity, a productive factory of technics and technologies that engender various technical objects (Simondon) of which we are one part of the machinic phylum.

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The Ruin

When the Earth was decentered from the universe by Copernican astronomy, this was more than compensated for by the innumerable images of the Earth produced over the years by artists and scientists alike. The Earth was, and is, in many ways, still at the center of things. In this sense, the first televised images of the Earth can no doubt be regarded as the pinnacle of a species solipsism, one that has its underside in the many computerized film images of a disaster-worn, zombie-ridden, apocalyptic landscape. We are so fixated on the Earth – that is, on ourselves – that we would rather have a ruined Earth than no Earth at all.

—Eugene Thacker, Starry Speculative Corpse: Horror of Philosophy: Vol 2