[FRIAM] PostHumanism/Modernism/Anthropocene

Steve Smith sasmyth at swcp.com
Wed Dec 21 12:54:14 EST 2022

On 12/21/22 9:44 AM, glen wrote:
> I so *wanted* to comment on that 60 page paper. But it's too much. I 
> ended up skimming and skipping along. 
Thanks...  I knew it was a *lot*... I read the first dozen pages before 
I started skimming myself, but thought you would have a useful 
perspective.   Maybe others have taken the bait?
> One thing that does seem relevantly missing (?) is Strawson's 
> distinction between diachronic and narrative. An aspect of some (maybe 
> rare, I'm too ignorant to say) post[structural|modern]ists is an 
> implied accusation that modernists are *intentionally* narrative, 
> rather than narrativity being a (natural?) artifact of our necessary 
> diachronicity. 
I had a hard time with your episodic/diachronic the first time you 
mentioned it (or more likely the first time I actually *heard* it) but 
it has grown on me as I've observed *others* who have strong *episodic* 
modes (in some cases almost to exclusion of any recognizeable 
diachronicity?) as well as my own, though as you have identified I have 
a strong diachronic self-identification and a near-fetish for narrativity.
> And I didn't see much mention of *meta*narratives, as opposed to 
> narratives. Even we episodics have, in our episodes, narratives. The 
> main difference, as always, comes in how one *composes* one's 
> episodes. [⛧] Similarly, a more nuanced understanding of postmodernism 
> relies on the criticism of meta-narrativity more so than narrativity 
> writ small. 

I appreciate that distinction.   A hard thing for me with PM style is 
that it (seems to?) fetishize (or at least depend heavily on) 
deconstruction which can feel a lot like obstruction and nihilism.   I 
think narrative/storytelling is a huge part of what binds a culture into 
an amoebic monolith (capable, even prone to polyp, fission and 
differentiation), not unlike microtubules in cellular structures, not 
just providing structure but also mobility and likely intracellular 
communication.     On the other hand, the episodic elements, the 
artifacts, the nouns without verbs phrases, the subjects/objects with 
partial or ambiguous relations also seem critical.

I wonder if this distinction (Strawson probably said but I forgot or 
missed it) is that episodic atoms are powerful because they can be 
softly recomposed many ways while still having their own inner 

I find meta-narrativity (if I understand it properly) quite *obvious* 
and powerful and open to recursion (what ARE the PMs trying to tell me 
when they are telling me what I am trying to tell them with my stories?)

> In that way, we can imagine gradations of posthuman[ism|s], where we 
> go through ordinal "stages" ... higher order operators can be built 
> upon priors when and only when (wwhen? whenn? like "iff"?) the priors 
> have frozen into manipulable building blocks. And if we imagine it 
> that way, whatever meta-narratives *emerge* depends on the historical 
> accidents of those freezing stages, the "shapes" of those building 
> blocks.

I find this language appealing in the general background of adaptive 
complexity but specifically in the quirky history of how we humans 
became this hyperdominant species capable of a wide range of subtle 
philosophical and artistic expression/reflection whilst also jamming 
red-hot pikes and nuclear weapons through one another's entrails for 
entertainment and personal gain.   What a beautiful mess we (the whole 
damned world/universe) is!

While I think Musk is a dangerous narcissist,  I suspect that of just 
about anyone with significant power (financial, political, spiritual) 
over others.   But the vision of a human diaspora seems inevitable...  
I'm more a fan of a Belter Frontier over a Mars-bound one, but the solar 
system is huge compared to human bodies and if managed with a little 
thought and care, the material and energetic resources in this solar 
system are quite vast.   On the other hand, geometric growth is never a 
game for sissies and I also have visions of grey-goo-like scenarios 
engulfing the whole solar system at speeds limited only (or maybe not) 
by the specific impulse of whatever propulsion tech dominates once we 
get ourselves out of this gravity well.

> [⛧] Maybe also in how one decomposes/analyzes/deconstructs one's 
> episodes.

The differentiation/speciation/(re)integration that would ensue will be 
quite a froth, suitable for Spider-Robinson's Crosstime Bar or the 
Quark...   Your observations about the nature of episodic/diachronic 
here and elsewhere gives me a different vocabulary to think about how 
such a froth will compose and (d)evolve.

> On 12/20/22 16:36, Marcus Daniels wrote:
>> I’ve been thinking I580 along the East Bay would make a nice place 
>> for sea creatures to hide, and a good concrete foundation for a bike 
>> lane on piers.  So quiet it would be without the cars.  Bring on the 
>> sea level rise!
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Dec 20, 2022, at 2:43 PM, Steve Smith <sasmyth at swcp.com> wrote:
>>> Here's my latest positive hit from Academia
>>> Countdown to Extinction? - Posthumanism in Science Fiction
>>> Raoul Guariguata
>>> https://www.academia.edu/2061036/Countdown_to_Extinction_Posthumanism_in_Science_Fiction 
>>> I could rattle on for pages about my take on this, but the short 
>>> version is that I found this *very* readable and helped me 
>>> appreciate the role of postmodernism and it's relationship to 
>>> posthumanism cast in the backdrop of a century (and a half) of 
>>> scientifiction/romance writing/speculating.
>>> Oh yeh, and also with the backdrop of the impending 
>>> extinction-by-excess arc humans are on as we argue over when to 
>>> *start* the Anthropocene when it is likely it is also about to *end* 
>>> in the shortest-lived geological epoch of all time?!
>>> @EricS Fermi Paradox indeed!

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