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“Humanity Recedes like a Loathsome Dream”

Nick Land, Ahuman Becoming, and Cultural Studies

Florian Cord

Pages 231 - 251

Abstract: This article explores the trajectories of ahuman becoming in the theoretical work of English philosopher Nick Land. A key figure in the development of what has come to be known as accelerationism, Land’s thinking has been a crucial influence not only on critical and cultural theorists, but also on a number of (especially British) writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Disregarding academic conventions and deliberately provocative, not least for many on the political left, his writings have been subjected to oftentimes fierce criticism. While this paper agrees with much of this critique, particularly regarding his nihilistic embrace of the runaway circuits of cyber-capitalism and his more recent appalling turn to neoreaction, it argues that Land’s thought nevertheless offers a set of very helpful theoretical resources for a posthumanist Cultural Studies facing the challenges of the Anthropo- or Capitalocene. The essay introduces and provides an overview of Land’s work and then proceeds to open up a reading of it that discards its hyperbole and (a- or anti-)political conclusions and stresses its critical, emancipatory dimensions. The article principally focuses on Land’s powerful critique of ‘securocratic’ humanism and its frequently quasi-fascistic ‘immunopolitical’ manifestations and argues that this critique can at once inspire a useful ‘anti-naturalist’ orientation, draw our attention to alternative becomings, and sharpen our awareness for the hybrid, composite character of power structures and socio-cultural formations. The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a case study to illustrate these arguments.

Keywords: Nick Land, accelerationism, posthumanism, immuno-politics, Covid-19 pandemic


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