By Matthew A. Taylor
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a wide selection of yank writers proposed the lifestyles of energies connecting humans to cosmic methods. From various issues of view—scientific, philosophical, non secular, and literary—they recommended that such energies might finally bring about the perfection of person and collective our bodies, assuming that assimilation into higher networks of being intended the growth of humanity’s powers and potentialities—a trust that maintains to notify a lot posthumanist conception today.
Universes with no Us explores a lesser-known countertradition in American literature. As Matthew A. Taylor’s incisive readings exhibit, the heterodox cosmologies of Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Adams, Charles Chesnutt, and Zora Neale Hurston reject the anthropocentric myth that sees the universe as one of those reservoir of self-realization. For those authors, the realm might be made neither “other” nor “mirror.” as an alternative, people are enmeshed with “alien” procedures which are either constitutive and damaging of “us.” via envisioning universes now not our personal, those cosmologies photo a sort of interconnectedness that denies any human skill to grasp it.
Universes with no Us demonstrates how the questions, percentages, and risks raised via the posthuman seemed approximately centuries in the past. Taylor unearths in those works an premature engagement with posthumanism, relatively of their imagining of universes within which people are just one type of heterogeneous factor in an unlimited array of species, gadgets, and forces. He exhibits how posthumanist conception can remove darkness from American literary texts and the way these texts may well, in flip, suggested a reassessment of posthumanist concept. via figuring out the posthuman as a materialist cosmology instead of a technological innovation, Taylor extends the diversity of thinkers who might be integrated in modern conversations in regards to the posthuman.
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Additional resources for Universes without us : posthuman cosmologies in American literature
Horror” and “an absolute dread of the beast,” 44 edgar allan poe’s meta/physics which is “not exactly a dread of physical evil,” yet one that he is “at a loss how otherwise to define” (“Black Cat,” 855). This “chimera” (“Black Cat,” 855) of indefinite fear manifests Eureka’s claim that we are “haunted” by a subconscious knowledge of our impending and “infinitely awful” convergence with the world. 51 Refusing to suffer this assault on his divinely ordained manhood, the narrator attempts to reestablish his dominance over the “beast” by “brut[alizing]” it.
Hurston, too, reveals the violence of this cosmos, but in her ethnographies, what is endangered is less individual people than the assumption that people are truly individual, truly separate from or superior to the worlds within and around them. Lost with our possession by nonhuman agencies is the notion that we are, with Locke, self-possessed. Yet Hurston doesn’t stop there; inspired by actual voodoo practices in New Orleans and Haiti, she explores the new opportunities and constraints that arise with the belief that existence is defined by relation rather than isolation, by mutual becomings of common flesh rather than discrete beings.
28 Indeed, Eureka argues, in being affected by bodies not our own, “we” become something other than we supposed, something less self-sovereign because more alienable. Contact with the universe estranges our bodies from our selves. Although gravity is the most obvious indication of this telos—the return to unity through the revocation of individuality—it is not the 36 edgar allan poe’s meta/physics only means of apprehending our fate; innate within our consciousness is a latent knowledge of our future destiny.