“ARCHE-FOSSIL”

“….Instead of “post-Capitalism” as the futural specter on call, I prefer the more encompassing “post-Anthropocene.”… The post-Anthropocene indicates that the organizing work of a “xenogeopolitical aesthetics” can be done only in relation to a mature alienation from human history and anthropocentric time and scale. As it foreshadows and foregrounds the eclipse and extinction of Anthropocenic anthropology and corresponding models of governance, it establishes not only that humanism disappears with humans, and vice versa, but that the more elemental genetic machines with which we now co-embody flesh can and will, in time, re-appear and express themselves as unthinkable new animal machines, and with them, New Earths.”

“….Perhaps the most critical gambit for any Accelerationist geopolitical aesthetic is its simultaneous location within evolutionary disappearance and appearance.... Consider the “arche-fossil,” presented by Quentin Meillassoux as an evidentiary demonstration of a basic encounter between the abyssal reality of ancestrality and the universal dislocation of thought from worlding... we must pivot and rotate that arche-fossil’s temporal trajectory from one of ancestrality toward one of alien descendence... Unlike the real fossil, that descendant cannot be held in hand, even as its chemistry storms within us and around us. Our presence is but an anterior precondition for our future dissolution... for which our thought and trace will be as alien, inaccessible, and horrifying in its indifference as the Cenozoic fossil is to us now…”

- Benjamin H. Bratton, “ Some Trace Effects of the Post-Anthropocene: On Accelerationist Geopolitical Aesthetics,”  e-flux Journal #46 

In this fictional narrative from the Post-Anthropocene I propose an archaeology of the present through real and artificial hyperobjects, which, unlike us, have continued to transcend time and space far into the future.

We distance ourselves from an anthropocentric perspective, to a time when we no longer have a language, no longer have a voice, but only exist as a shadow, or a hypothesis. Whether we are replaced by cyborgs, animals, advanced machines, or alien races - I wonder how these Nonhumans will interpret our material culture, digging it out from the striations.

Faced with the difficulty of deciphering a past almost erased by time, how will the remnants testify and describe our existence? What will be left of human memory, and memory of humans? Could exceptional human consciousness and will be identified, in contrast to other animals, androids, or molecules in motion?

The idea of apocalypse always rises with human unease about our way forward. It is not the end of the Earth, but that of man. Maybe this apocalypse will be about our narcissistic love of materialism and consumption. Or it might be a result of human genes that must always challenge their own limits, while dominating the ecosystem. What will become of half-planned cities and mountains of programmed obsolescence? Where will human symbiosis with technology over other species lead us? Will our legacy be the radical shift in evolution of plants and animals? Are we the massive geological event that leaves the next boundary in the strata?

Before this apocalyptic end many more human stories will be written in the record. Our world may become warmer, colder, hostile, barren, or toxic to us, but yet it will remain entirely inhabitable, at least for awhile. Before the rising seas wash us away, we may find ways to build floating cities above, below, or on them. Proliferation of robots will bring entirely new sociopolitical and economic paradigms. Human history may be long in the future before the Post-Anthropocene, as dystopias rise and fall through our struggle to survive on this new Earth we are inevitably creating.

Will our awe and will go extinct before our species does? Maybe first we just need to think of ourselves as fossils.