While I couldn’t hope to summarize all the rich material that’s been explored here over the last ten days, what I can say is that on the subject of form and posthumanism there remains so much lush, beckoning, untrodden terrain. My hope is that the dialogue we began here will inspire further thinking, feeling, speaking, writing, and -- not least -- aesthetic forming on the subject, and that any seeds we’ve planted will grow in directions none of us can foresee.
Among the many feelings I leave this conference with is a certain reinvigorating optimism. My sense is that there’s a real longing out there -- a longing to recover our sensual immersion in the world, that carnal belonging we traded in for a misguided and moribund mastery. I see this longing in people’s frustration with online life, but more specifically I see it among artists. What I see, hear, feel from us collectively is a deep yearning for all the things that have been banished from art: sensual form, beauty, the sacred, (dare I say it?) love. And as David Abram has pointed out, this reclamation of our creaturely belonging cannot but bring with it an attitude of humility (and is there anything we need more right now than a colossal dose of exactly this?). What if art could serve as an agent of humility by fiercely re-embracing all those exiled qualities? The reinstitution of sensual form, beauty, the sacred, eros: this is exactly what I see in a new posthumanist art, and with this a nudging of the human back into the complex web of relations.
I have many people to thank for the success of this symposium, foremost among them all the panelists, to whom I give a deep bow of gratitude. Thank you all for your passionate engagement, your enormous generosity, and not least your exquisite eloquence in sharing your ideas. I’m truly humbled by you all. I want to give a special thanks to Deborah for her steady infusion of support throughout this project and to Charlene for her astute feedback on my drafts of the session questions. I also want to thank our readers for offering such meaty and provocative comments. And finally, I want to thank my husband, Colin Selleck, for having the patience of Job while I spent so many of our weekends glued to the computer. I pray he’ll still recognize me when I emerge from the cave.
Maybe our greatest hope for inter-human relations will come through interspecies and geomorphic attunement...
Thanks again Taney and everyone for these days of vitalizing dialogic web-making. . .
Thank *you*, Jon - and what a stellar performance today! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
In Rebecca Solnit’s recent book, Whose Story Is This? She describes how she once believed that change begins in the margins and then moves towards the center. She has since changed her mind. “It’s not the margins, the place of beginnings, or the center, the place of arrival, but the pervasiveness that matter most.” She continues:
"The consequences of these transformations are perhaps most important where they are most subtle. They remake the world, and they do so mostly by the accretion of small gestures and statements and the embracing of new visions of what can be and should be."
This symposium was an extraordinary concentration of those subtle “small gestures and statements,” leaving me thinking/feeling with much more depth and an expanded sense of it all.
As Solnit phrased it:
"We are building something immense together that, though invisible and immaterial, is a structure, one we reside within--or, rather, many overlapping structures...Though there are individual voices and people who got there first, these are collective projects that matter not when one person says something but when a million integrate it into how they see and act in the world."
Thank you Taney for your expert helmsmanship. As the ideator at the center of this adventure, you demonstrated exemplary skills. You have exemplified the best verbs: envisioning, inspiring, inclusivizing, insighting, stimulating, authenticizing. I step off the Thingly Affinities vessel with a greater sense of how the mystery I live with intimately is part of a larger one. In homage to our guest Charles Eisenstein, we are all closer to that more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Beautifully stated, Deborah -- thank you.
Thanks so much, Taney, for your vision and hard work in organizing this rewarding symposium! You've given us tons to think about over the days and years to come.
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