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

5 thoughts on “The Ruin

  1. Yes, definitely. Alongside the ‘humiliation’ in Freud’s Copernicus – Darwin – Freud lineage, there was also an increase in human self-regard in Copernicanism. (No shock that modernity has conflict at its roots!) Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, all were Hermeticists to some extent, who saw the increase in knowledge they were making happen as evidence of our potential elevation to godhood.

    Also, when the Earth was ‘at the centre’, the centre was also ‘the bottom’, i.e. the cess pit of the cosmos, furthest from the empyrean. But now it was host to creatures attaining ‘the mind of God’. I guess this dual motion, of dizzy space-panic at the prospect of an infinite void around us, versus the dizzy intellectual inflation of humanist science, accounts for modernity’s large ego and its fragility. (Well, Hermetic science becoming humanist… Interestingly, this sheds new light on Meillassoux’s correction, re-describing Kant’s ‘Copernican Revolution’ as a ‘Ptolemaic counter-revolution’. In some sense, it seems, Kant used the right term after all.)

    But then, is there a bit of a lack of generosity in reprimanding ourselves for being ‘so fixated on the Earth’? The only known place in an black infinitude where we currently stand a chance? Call me fixated, for now 🙂 For me, tackling anthropocentrism within the bounds of Earth is probably the more pressing task. In the context of the cosmos, I’ll let the bias of geocentrism slide, unless I’m looking for some imaginal void-thrills.

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    • Residual anthropology? Rather let us declare the death of the human (and, obviously I mean not the literal annihilation of said species, but rather of the name and its connections to humanistic metaphysics of two thousand years. Impossible? Originary technicity says we were never human to begin with, so that it is technics and technology within which we are Enframed. Or, as Deleuze/Guattari would have it we are machinic, children of the machinic phylum.).

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      • I can’t say I’ve read deeply in the areas you’re referencing, so forgive the naivety. My take is that anti-humanism risks an over-reaction to an excess – humanism prioritising something too much, then the corrective being equally – maybe more? – excessive. That said, I’m not sure whether to apply the old parental admonition that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’, or to shrug with ‘c’est la vie’. Maybe that’s the way it goes, of late at least: excesses bouncing off each other until things fall apart.

        The other anti-humanist risk seems obvious: the more the idea seeps into the wider culture, which it must to effect real change, the more the subtleties of its metaphorical nature wither away.

        Anyway, I suspect if we keep rolling on, technology will do a very good job of disintegrating the human image of the past few thousand years. My main concern here is that this image isn’t presumed to be primal, and that our shallow anthropology doesn’t leave us passively watching technology eat away deeper, more interesting aspects of humanity that predate the humanist image, which have little to do with the humanist image, but which the modern viewpoint can’t see back past the humanist image into.

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      • To me the whole thing is mute: the whole anthropological and humanist metaphysics is dead, beyond recall – caput. And, yes, to me there’s not dichotomy because for me these other discourses are of little use anymore so to be annihilated. Since I no longer affirm the human as a term worthy of incorporation, then I’m not an Anti-Humanist. I am not human, which entails the notion that we’ve never been human. It was all a nice little pre-modern tale to comfort the ape that thought…

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      • Metaphysics dead, yes, definitely. My interest is generally in pre- and post-metaphysical thought. I can affirm what you’re saying here, but I wonder how the loss of the category ‘human’ might pan out in the wider culture. Maybe you’d say you’re giving formal description to something that’s happening anyway, rather than laying down a path?

        As with the rejection of ‘Nature’, I’m generally completely with this rejection of ‘human’ when discussed in detail, where the deeper viewpoint is understood. There seems to be too much scope for calamitous misunderstanding when projected into wider discourses though. Well, OK, not a problem unique to this issue… But I’m still interested in how that problem of discourse might be addressed – I get too bored by jargon-heavy niches, when I can follow them. There seems to be an abundance of clues in forager anthropology, but learning from them is limited. Their discourses work by dint of the fact of tiny, intimate social scale.

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