By Drew Burns
Head of the class
The Man on the Moon
The Face on Mars
Armed and dangerous
We anthropomorphize. That we make the world in our own image is only natural. Idiomatically, we get cold feet, break a leg, fall head over heels, flat on our faces, our heads in the sand. Chin up! Eyes to the horizon. Ears to the ground. Gatos con guantes no cacen ratones.
The body, too, is a metaphor. Temple. Prison. Flesh suit. Machine.
Fertile Ouroboros heads backward and, sticking its neck out, turns tail and run. Meanwhile, Mars weds Venus in a Sun dress, The two circle the labyrinth clockwise, mercurial in retrograde.
In the beginning, non-corporeal. Prior to language, our formless forms frolic in the caliginous fog.
The dew evaporated at first light, rendering the obscure uncanny.
The desire to know the world bears paradoxers. We humanize things and dehumanize people. Objects receive the breath of life, transversally, to change the subject.
Objects become more than vital. Objects become cerebral, develop aspirations and conatus. Objects connive, conspire, unify, quantize, and congeal in hypostasis. Objects conjoin to form assemblages as cells, organelles, organs, and bodies. Trapped in their assemblages, organs are translated, transfixed, and turgid. Alas, it is an illusion and in the last, the object defenestrates the body … only to become re-embodied in another assemblage. A virus, conatively yearning to breathe free.
Whether the reification of objects requires the production of anthropomorphic shapes and personae is obscured, yet frequently comes to be. When terror creeps in to vandalize a fragile ego, it is not with some ephemeral and amorphous existential dread, it is with a hammer. The hammer loves its job. Love is work. Work hard in silence, let success make the noise. The noise, the secret ikigai that drowns out the void. The void is the truth. The truth is the hammer.
God, The Devil, Hell, Heaven … who is behind it, where do we go? Who is this “we” anyway?
So, the Universe has a personality. The thoughts and dreams of a force object so immense that it encompasses all known life, existence, space, and time must have an immense personality. Thus, begging the question, what does the Universe want? Should we imagine that we will ever truly know the Universe? Perhaps not, but that won’t stop us from implanting anthropomorphic aspirations into an entity that transcends our very capacity to contemplate infinitude.
Why bother? Is the Universe trying to experience itself, for some strange reason? This becomes the purpose for the Anthropos to some of its genera. We, the humans of the world – chiefly the ones aged 35 and older – desperately need the Universe to view its own resplendent phantasmagoria through our human myopia. The Universe wants to be Anthroposeen.
Seriously, it’s unclear why the Universe didn’t just sleep in. What if the Universe is malevolent but is somewhat shite at being a baddie? Maybe the Universe is an omni-prescient processor that is fulfilling its programming of an equation in reverse. Humanity, perhaps, is a semi-sentient element of an equation that culminates at the beginning of time.
Of course, the Universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events – but to think the knowledge of the Universe is fully comprehensible if we could separate signal from noise is the very fact that will not and cannot do more than imagine a Universal caricature drawn in our image.
Ultimately, the We that is both Humanity and the Universe reveals itself as a verbal phrase and an act of becoming. Prior to this, however, the We that cannot see itself inverts the process like the candle that is the only source of darkness in the room.
The paradoxical contexture of anthropomorphism is that objects are now the basis for our humanity.
Humanity imbues objects with cogito. Thus, they are entities. Providing entities with the subtle Trinitas of mind, origo, and soul, in turn, inculcates these vitalized objects with desire, perspective, and motive. Participles prefer not to dangle. Hydrocarbons bond over mutual attraction and a shared interest in tetrahedra. Gaia treats her fever with a nice, vigorous schvitz to allow the terrestrial body’s immune system to better respond to and irradicate a pesky parasite.
Humanity breathes life into the object, the entity becomes a mirror, and the mirror reshapes Humanity through the looking glass.
Trouble comes when these entities, fearful beasts that they may truly be, provide a clear motive for their perambulations. When Gaia starves the cold and feeds the fever, it may simply be Humanity’s impotent rage transmuted. Then again, of course, maybe Gaia is deadest on disrupting the delirium to discountenance the disease. Of course, who’s to say? To truly know the motive of an entity, larger than life with form so gargantuan as to simply feel like the entirety of all reality, would require contemplation of the form as it is. Thus, when we fail to do so and recreate the entity in our own image, we learn our own collective motivations, and it’s enough to make you grasp your suprasternal notch.
Of course, it all could be otherwise. The human mind may be the true Deus ex Machina, with the power of poiesis and contagious cogito. Perhaps, therefore something like an efflux result from objectival anthropogenesis.
Human transference and sympoiesis conjoin to form a paradox. Through the failure to comprehend the infinite interconnectedness, Humanity takes directly from finite conceptual material rather than the emét infinitude. The result, much like the result of time and fire and β particles on dividual human persons, is deanthropmorphosis.
Human motives attributed to non-human entities, lead to a countercurrent of de-humanization of flesh-and-blood human motives. Humans that reside in a world where corporations are people too is a strange cyclical relationship between the drive of an immortal, emotionally divorced capital-accumulation machine recreates the desires, dreams, and hopes of mortal, emotionally driven humans to metamorphosis. Suddenly, every human co-existing with the immortal accumulators are driven to excessive self-promotion, the habituation of accumulation, and the cultivation of a brand. First, corporations became persons, and soon thereafter, people took the language, forms, and motives of the corporation. Alongside imbuing objects with motives, materially and physically real Humanity reimagines its constituency as discorporate.
Whether we need to deanthropomorphize to recreate ourselves in our own image is unclear, but since it appears that this is not unique to consumption-obsessed cultures a question arises. Could the nature and form of the deanthropometamorphosis be otherwise?
If the dominant mode of experiential metaphor were anything but Capital, the metamorphosis needn’t come in the form of personal branding, logos, market presence, and product. What if, instead, we found our analogs elsewhere? Our conception of the world and perception of ourselves would be incomprehensible in any modern language.
Why not shift from smiling flowers to humans with genital stamen faces? Knowingly centering our productive capacity through the same germinating gynoecium as our capacity for expression. Drawing a new meta-connection between the capacity for verbal utterances, reproductive processes, and the caloric intake apparatus; connecting στόμᾰ with στίγμα and rendering our generative and receptive systems unified in one unitary gyno-facial metaphor. This alternate perspective could surely do away with embodied phallocentrism and propagate a greater awareness of the cross-pollination and transmission capacity of language.
A more comprehensible example of self-perception, one with a long history of flexibility, is that of emotion. We do, at times, transmogrify into our feelings’ physical forms. I am become Anxiety, the sense of imminent doom becomes my overarching meaning and, thus, we wear it like a mask that shows our true face. Yet a personified anxiety could just as easily walk with us, break bread at our tables, or loom overhead bodily like the elders o’ Susanna. To walk with, tolerate, feel, sense, or escape emotions are all, somehow, in play. Emotional distancing a la “Anxiety is a pesky neighbor I avoid as best I can” is, likewise, already a common turn of phrase. Emotions may be understood as both esse and sedere – essence and status. Likewise, emotions may be interpreted as externalized catalysts to internal conflicts, even as the inciting emotion itself is imagined to be internal. Thus, Anxiety creeps in from within, creates a unity with the self, gives voice to fear; whose shrieking wail awakens depression, hate, and rage. All this flexibility afforded to sensual experience, but not to the self itself. We imagine our infinitude in finite corporeality.
Surely, we can reanthropometamorphize. Surely, we must! Imagine the alternatives to the corporea-centricity of the mind-body unity or the anthropo-translation of scientistic factishism.
I am Universe
I am the sacred clown
I am Shiva
I am ℵ0
I am that I am
I am the collision of the infinite and infinitesimal
I am Death
I am Set
I am a null set
Yet, the capacity and cultural likelihood to narrativize downward to zero predominates. Thus, we re-orient memory, experience, and anticipation in an expository fashion derived from a culture that values storytelling for meaning rather than for itself. The result is a culturally prescribed reorientation of interpretation past transfinitude into false certainty.
Failing to dislodge our selves from our bodies, we fail to see our infinitude. Failing to imagine a world past our cognitive operating systems, we do not cast shadows, inverted, as a candle, burning in reverse, emitting a negative reflection. Worse yet, we imagine our Cognito is finite rather than transfinite. What we may know of our selves, and what we may know of our experience is constantly expanding past axiomatics to provide greater than infinite selves, sensations, identities, and permutations of relations. Immediately upon the invention or conjure of an experiential element within any of the above domains, ℵ02 possible constellations arise. The capacity to contemplate and compensate is elastic, making the forced finitude of socially-derived cognitive bounds a shame … and highly suggestive of the trajectory of human society in contrast to our collective potential.
Transfinite Cognito Amid the End of Days
This finitizing contexture is doubly harrowing as Humanity sits at the edge of a steep escarpment – the multiphrenic eschaton maintains omnipresence. The end of the world, in whatever form(s) it may take remains perched at the precipice, salivating, waiting to call Humanity’s bluff.
Failing to understand ourselves in our transfinitude, we mistakenly re-represent ourselves to ourselves through a lossy double-translation. Translation encompasses anthropomorphizing reification, shifting present concepts to historic precedents, shifting contextual interpretations to imperfect generalizations, shifting the vastness of our transfinite selves to the black box of cognitive ease.