Monday, April 9, 2012

Posthumanist Song/Media Project and Manson's Posthumanist Grotesque

The Net that usurped the Sky
Capo on 2

Emin                                            G
Well I got people on my right and people on my left
D                           Am            Emin
Tellin’ me that I can live forever
Emin                                             G
One through faith in the Lord, the other a computer cord
D                                 Amin           Emin
My body’s done for either way I go
Emin                                                                   G
Cuz them old white men hate their flesh, rather be turned to code
D                                     Amin                                      Emin
They just can’t stand decay and death, so they’ll digitize their soul
Emin                            G
A secular salvation, perfect communication
D                                Amin               Emin
Without noise, without  mediation

But you can’t escape mortality
C                                                         Emin
By the software programs on your PC
Even if we drug our food
C                                          Emin
We can’t transcend our finitude
And if heaven’s not  even a state of mind
It can’t flow through a cable line . . .
That dream is just a waste of time
A disguised intelligent design

Abar                         F              C
For the gods who refuse to die
Abar                           F        C
That don’t care for you or I
Abar                           F       C
Just their transcendental high
           Abar          F               C
On the Net that usurped the sky

This is my posthumanism song, which is looking like its going to be more of a critique of transhumanism for a critical posthumanist perspective. I have been trying to draw a parallel between religion and transhumanism, culminating in the chorus that refers to the "gods," referring not to the Olympian deities, but to those who have self-appointed themselves prophets, leaders, or saviors  in what I call, in the song, "The Net that usurped the Sky." The sky has been replaced by the Net (internet, but also other nets: nets that capture and dominate nature and animals and neural nets, which is a kind of jab at some of the cognitive materialists. The nets are where we now find our pale, quasi-scientific gods. These are self-appointed ubermensch that do not understand two things about Nietzsche's figure.

1.) The ubermensch will never arrive because it is a constant becoming

2.) Becoming-ubermensch is not acheived through a transcendence of man (even though it is still in a sense "overcoming" man) but through going-under (undergoing) -- endlessly enduring and working through our finitude.

The song still needs another verse and then I will record the song and use it as a soundtrack to images/video in order to illustrate/elaborate on some of the lyrics for my posthuman "media" project. On the one hand, I'm contemplating shifting from the transhumanism to a critical posthumanism. On the other hand, I almost want to stay with the critique. If I stay with the critique, I can use the pre-chorus and the chorus over again, but if I want to move on to critical posthumanism, I will have to come up with entirely new lyrics.

If I choose the former, my jumping off point will be Donna Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto," in which she framed cyborg politics as "blasphemous," so that the song shifts toward a subversion of religious motifs. I hope to include the turn toward animal studies within the lyrics as well. The challenge is to try and channel these ideas without straying too much into jargony language that will not flow well with my folk-pop chords and arrangement. However, I am thinking that a major video source for the second half of the song will have to be the blasphemous images of Marilyn Manson, who brilliantly subverts religion in both lyrics (sometimes at least) and images, perhaps epitomized in his donning the clothes of a Catholic bishop. His "Nobodies" video also contains many powerful images of him as a kind of man-tree-animal hybrid. The cover of Manson's Mechanical Animals shows him as a kind of genderless or gender-confused cyborg -- even the name "mechanical animals" suggests a kind of Phillip K. Dick/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep thematic. I may also consider throwing in images of Sinead O'Connor burning the pope's picture. Again, this is to show that a critical posthumanism demands a kind of killing of old gods, rituals, religions, and, ultimately, beliefs.

So, in a way, you could say this song was written in the spirit of Marilyn Manson and Friedrich Nietzsche, despite sounding nothing like Manson. Indeed, if I were to describe Manson's work I would have to use the term posthuman grotesque. Manson's posthuman, I think, is actually more in line with Haraway's Cyborg than transhumanisms. His posthuman is grotesque, open, dirty, but also not in a cyber-punk kind of way. This is an earthy posthumanism, a posthumanism of becoming-animal-machine-woman, if you'll allow me the list of Deleuzian terms. Look for yourself:

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