Dongshin Yi is Associate Professor of English at Seoul National University, South Korea, and he is the author of A Genealogy of Cyborgothic: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Age of Posthumanism (Routledge 2010) and “Gulliver, Heidegger’s Man: Swift’s Satire of Man in Captivation” (College Literature, forthcoming in January).
"With Nothing but Humiliation: Ethics of Losing for Posthumans"
“With nothing.... Yes, like a dog,” says a character in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, who readies herself to “start at ground level.” Yes, humans may have to be stripped of everything to live with animals and things, that is, to live as posthumans. But it won’t do to be just “like a dog,” since, unlike a dog that has so little, humans have so much and must do more to lose that much. How do humans make themselves ready to lose? And, more importantly, why should they? This paper considers these questions by incorporating Timothy Morton’s assertion that “hyperobjects force us to realize the truth of the word humiliation itself, which means being brought low, being brought down to earth.” In this age of posthumanism, what things—not limited to hyperobjects but including living organisms—are constantly making is an ethical call that humans can answer only by humiliating themselves, and the paper will argue for promoting non-anthropocentric sublime experiences of things that would leave humans “with nothing but humiliation.”