What could be a posthumanist response to loneliness and feeling lonely?
In a way posthumanism could be about what something is not (yet)- at least in the first instance. Because every time that you say what something is, it has an undesirable side effect which is that in that speech act there is an assertion which ‘others’ everything that is not that. Is loneliness about something that is not? Is it about an absence? Of what? Or is it an absence created by a presence?
Is loneliness how we experience the self? A self we’ve created over years and years of so called living in response to being parented, parenting, history, education, culture and power and more. A self that’s always there even when its operations are more or less suspended temporarily, in games, activities with friends and family, reading, movies, eating, work, sleep, drunkenness etc etc. at the end of the day, or in the middle of the afternoon, or in the morning when you wake up, it will be there, waiting for you.
And it says, “So…”
And it asks questions that you’re not able or unwilling to answer, or you try and answer them but it is not satisfied.
And it can be critical.
It asks, Why am I so [insert something here]?
Or why am I not [insert something here]?
It asks, Why is no one else here?
Or, Why is the other human that’s here so [insert something here] or not more [insert something else here] or less [insert something else here]?
And it is this with what we are ultimately confronted at the end of our lives. Because the self is finite. And it doesn’t like it.
The self is something that says, “So…”
The self is something that asks for a response, but to which you cannot respond in a way that is ultimately going to satisfy it. Because it is empty. It is a creation that has no substance. Yet it requires that you continue to maintain the illusion that it is something. And for that other humans are vital. If you help me maintain the illusion of the self, I’ll help you. That’s what friends are for!
What is love but a way of forgetting about the operations of the self and focussing on the operations of someone else’s self? Becoming lost in that? Or extending the self so that it encompasses an other?
What other kinds of relationships are possible?
What other ways of being are possible?
You are not seperate. You are not alone. There is no you and it, no self and no other.
In the image above (by Raymond Depardon, taken in 1998) a prisoner in solitary confinement jogs in circles in a courtyard in the Maison Centrale de Clairvaux prison, a former abbey turned into a high-security prison in Aube, France. The article says the prisoner’s solitary confinement is voluntary: “He wanted to be alone, he just felt better there.” Yet there is netting to stop the prisoner escaping by helicopter.