As a piece of writing, I think my favorite part of the Bradotti book was the introduction. I felt like I could’ve read an entire book of these vignettes and her commentary on them.
But then I got to thinking: I feel like this kind of writing, wherein a lot of discrete data points regarding “the contemporary” are hurled at the reader with some to no comment, has become sort of a trope of writing about post-humanism. I can find it here or here or here or here or here. I’m thinking of it as a particular form of writing that I want to call the posthuman litany. I think it kind of has its roots in like the old cyberpunk style of prose that drives toward a sensory overload that is meant to gesture toward some sensation of futurity.
In fact, that’s the main thing I get out of reading these kind of posthuman litanties: that the writer is trying to gesture toward some big, looming shape that all these data points are meant to indicate (in the sense of index). But the more I think about it, I often find it all too convenient that the big monster (the present, the future, the Anthropocene, the posthuman, the apocalypse) that the litany is meant to connote, is sort of elided by this rhetorical approach. This is why it frustrates me a little bit in Bradotti’s book (and a lot of “posthumanist” thinking that I’ve looked at) that, behind the strum and drang of the introduction, the intellectual framework is still the same old poststructuralism that’s been getting warmed over since 1966. I would be really interested to see thinkers who can name the contemporary in its whole rather than by its parts.
I was wondering, from a Digital Humanities perspective, if the move toward empiricism might give an angle toward clarity in this matter of grasping the posthuman, or if its a sideline?