The Posthuman

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." ~ George Orwell

Alien and Posthuman Bodies

First a few words that return us to our larger discussion about the posthuman:
Theories of the posthuman argue that the human is evolving into a new species, a new sort of animal liberated from the ideologic constraints of its body even as it is (re)located, in a visceral way, within that very same body. The posthuman is a figure that demands a reconsideration of what it is to be human, a figure that disrupts binaries, especially human / machine and human / animal. In the introduction to Posthuman Bodies, Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston write, “We have rehearsed the claim that the posthuman condition is upon us and that lingering nostalgia for a modernist or humanist philosophy of the self and other, human and alien, normal and queer is merely the echo of a discursive battle that has already taken place” (19). For Halberstam and Livingston, the posthuman is not a conceptual creature; rather, the transformation, from the human to the posthuman, is already underway.

Posthumanism complicates notions of liberal humanism -- complicates the notion that the human is an enlightened, feeling, thinking, unified subjectivity distinct from its mere body. The prefix “post” in “posthuman” suggests at least 3 things: (1) the posthuman comes after (i.e., later than) the human; (2) the posthuman follows upon the human (i.e., advances our conception of what it is to be human); and (3) the posthuman responds to or rejects the human (i.e., troubles our conception of what it is to be human). The posthuman depends (at least etymologically) upon the human; however, by calling the human so thoroughly into question, the figure of the posthuman implies that the human is, in fact, the more conceptual creature. The monster in Alien does peculiarly posthuman work, beckoning, seizing, and folding our bodies into its monstrous embrace, then biting, tearing, and perforating the culturally-controlled binary oppositions that (fail to) determine us.

Then a task:
Start a thread in this discussion that poses a question about the film Alien and/or explores how the film intersects with the other text for the week, Halberstam and Livingston’s introduction to Posthuman Bodies. Once you’ve started a thread, populate one of the threads of your peers by responding to their thoughts/questions.

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