A CUT IN RELATIONALITY: art at the end of the world

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One of the ways in which one might chart the force of various forms of posthuman thought is to mark a reversal in the ways we think about relationality. Rather than distinct Cartesian subjects or a world of essences and self-present things we can now think in terms of one complex life that enters into relations in order for seemingly stable subjects and objects to emerge. In this essay I argue that a moral and normative conception of relationality is at the heart of humanist inquiry, and that the non-relational has been dismissed as lifeless. What cannot be admitted is a mode of existence that simply is, without any reflective relation to the whole from which it has emerged. Art and the institutions of the artworld have played an important role in forging the conception of the prima facie value of a reflexive and relational mode of human life, where art and art galleries allow me to experience my own existence in relation to a dynamic and productively relational whole. Any mode of life without this rich conception of the world is deemed to be no life at all, or the end of the world. Nowhere is this more obvious than in fictions and studies of the Anthropocene, where the human species is now aware of its constitutive role in the composition of the planet, and where this global awareness creates an intensified conception of a necessarily relational humanity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-195
Number of pages21
JournalAngelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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