Muckelbauer, John and Debra Hawhee.  “Posthuman Rhetorics: ‘It’s the Future, Pikul.”  JAC 20 4 (2000): 767-74.  Print.

  • M&H begins by recalling how Cronenberg’s film eXistenZ confronts anxieties about the nature of a distributed self rather than a Modernist universal, complete, whole “I.”  The film provides the authors with a way to conceptualize the work of posthuman:  “we begin by considering posthumanism as an attempt to engage humans as distributed processes rather than as discrete entities” (768), or, as Halberstam and Livingston put it, “posthumanism emerges at nodes where bodies, bodies of discourse, and discourses of bodies intersect to foreclose any easy distinction between actor and stage, between sender/receiver, channel, code, message, context” (768).
  • Some questions about rhetoric that arise as a result of a posthumanist perspective:  1) Is it really so easy to distinguish between a speaker, an audience, a message, and a context?  M&H argue that instead of oversimplifying the complexity of the world for rhetorical criticism perhaps we could discover/engage new ways of rethinking rhetoric that attend to the complexity of the world (768-9).
  • The authors note that posthumanism certainly doesn’t attempt to move “beyond” the human . . . that would be a distinctly modernist enterprise.  As the authors note, “There is an enormous difference, for example, between the postmodern claim that we have moved from the regime of the real into that of the simulacrum and the posthuman claim that the real is structured by the simulacra” (769).
  • The authors acknowledge that the posthuman perspective has a political slant:  it cautions against the hegemony of the liberal humanist Enlightenment subject.  Instead the posthuman perspective looks to “transient, emergent coalitions” and “networks of power” to revise the humanist subject from within (like a parasite).

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