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How to Think Posthumanly with Nature? Octopodal Creatures as Conceptual Personae of an Alien Nature

Author:

Tamalone van den Eijnden

Abstract

At a historical moment at which we can observe both, an on-going exploitation of natural resources and an increasing number of people that is pointing towards the dire consequences of climate change, the question of how to relate to nature no longer can be ignored. This paper is concerned with how making sense of nature is possible in a decolonizing vocabulary, that is to say, in a way that does not posit nature as a passive object that can be known and ruled by humans. Such a shift will be addressed as a change from talking about nature to thinking with nature. It will be argued, that this may be achieved through modes of thinking that are posthuman, in other words, modes of thinking that decentre human ways of perceiving the world and invite for creatively imaging other modes of perception. Specifically, it will be examined how octopodal species from Donna Haraway’s ‘Tentacular Thinking’ in Staying with the Trouble (2016) and Vilém Flusser’s Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (1987) might be taken as figures to imagine other ways of thinking. The way these tentacular creatures perceive the world is fundamentally alien to us, which will be developed as precisely their asset within the endeavor to imagine other ways of making sense. The paradoxical situation of trying to imagine something that is ultimately not knowable will be addressed in spatial terms where the octopodal figure, the non-human and other way of thinking will be conceived as an elswere, whereas the human point of view, the knowable designates a here. As such, the question of how to think posthumanly revolves around the question of how can we understand the relation and arrangement of here and elsewhere. Through different spatial systems, arrangements and modes of traveling the issue will be addressed showing that although the octopodal figure denotes an elsewhere, it is also implicated in the here and might spark our inspiration for imaging other ways of being-in-the-world.

How to Cite: van den Eijnden, T., 2019. How to Think Posthumanly with Nature? Octopodal Creatures as Conceptual Personae of an Alien Nature. Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities, 4(1), pp.43–57. DOI: http://doi.org/10.33391/jgjh.53
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Published on 01 Apr 2019.
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