The Post-Human Body
Why the ‘real’ human condition isn’t merely human
If body is ‘spirit,’ then it’s outside the periphery of our merely human intelligence, but its also a spirit linked to nature, to rivers, mud, fish, birds, minerals, stars, fire, and so imagining these non-human or more-than-human beings with the body is a way of disclosing a spirit which is not only human, and a body which is not only human. It’s a way of disclosing the true body.
There are patterns and harmonics that exist just outside our human consciousness. We may even interface and resonate with planets, star systems, and moon phases, as if the body is a node or place where all these other entities constantly interact. Let’s play with the idea that our bodies extend into the animal, vegetal, mineral, and into the ‘celestial intelligences’ or ‘software’ beings like mathematics and music, holy people and angels.
The point is that each one of us is a team, a symbiotic consciousness of human, elemental, animal, psychic, and celestial intelligences. William Irwin Thompson recommends that we look to our children’s literature, to comic books and science fiction stories, for the archetypal group of four becoming one, to better understand our actual human condition. Let’s also look to Indigenous American stories of women marrying other-than-human people.
These visions of the body as a team of other-than-human beings will hopefully help us wiggle out of our conventional thinking, and feel our way into other possibilities of embodiment. Melissa Nelson, in Getting Dirty: The Eco-Eroticism of Women in Indigenous Oral Literatures:
…we are related to everything through a visceral kinship and that our cosmo-genealogical connections to all life demand that we treat our relatives with great reverence and appreciation.”
She says that decolonizing begins with “an honest inventory of our pansexual natures and visceral connections to the more-than-human world.”
Of course, as the ground of all experience and as the lens through which all our thoughts and images happen, the body is ultimately unimaginable or unthinkable. We can’t get out of it to look at it properly, like how we cannot see our own eyeballs! But we can try.