“The Rhythms of Language” – Anthony Nestel
In her inspiring lecture, Janneke Adema proposed to rethink, affirmatively, the humanities, the human and the digital in a creative and pragmatic direction they call “posthumanities”. With the rise of posthumanist and antihumanist theorists, such as new materialists, posthumanists, object-oriented philosophers, and media archaeologists, the question of a posthuman pragmatics is, more than ever, fundamental. How can we act these complicated and original theories in which they try to decentre the human in the humanities, and possibly the academia as a whole?
In her article co-written with Gary Hall, titled Posthumanities: The Dark Side of “The Dark Side of The Digital” (2016), Adema and Hall offer examples how we can affirmatively push the humanities towards becoming posthumanities. These examples relate to: the ways scholars and academics do research; the ways they perform, mediate and represent their research; and the ways academics circulate, distribute, communicate and share their knowledge and research. These three distinctive parts – methodologies, aesthetics and publishing and educational institutions – are, they argue, part of one entangled and nonlinear process. For the sake of this reflection, I would like to propose another part that of the process writing itself.
How can we write relationally? How can we write with the more-than-human? Brian Massumi’s answer to that would be: through an attention to the rhythm of language. The semantic, Massumi argues, is not distinct from the rhythm and other non-semantic components. Movement in thinking and writing is composed of personal and impersonal factors in intra-action, as Massumi notes, “[In my writing, t]here’s a point when I’m composing where the movements starts to take over and I begin to feel that instead of me thinking the concepts, the movement is thinking them through me” (Massumi 2017, 73). This conception of the thinking wandering through the personal relates to Deleuze and Guattari’s conviction of philosophy as being an act of creativity, just as art is. In What is Philosophy? (1996) Deleuze and Guattari identify philosophy as an activity of creation – doing philosophy, rather than thinking philosophy. This creative act – doing philosophy – entails creating new concepts and conceptual movements.
Moreover, for it to be truly posthuman, I believe, academic writing should be also a sensing practice – “a field of affective tonality activated in rhythms and tones, in speeds and intensities” (Manning 2013, 156). Posthuman writing finds itself in duration during the act of writing itself, in an experiential vastness of perception, sensation and new concepts.
 More on that see Posthumanites: The Dark Side of “The Dark Side of the Digital”.
- Adema, Janneke & Hall, Gary. 2016. “Posthumanities: The Dark Side of “The Dark Side of the Digital.”” The Journal of electronic Publishing, Fall 2016.https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0019.201?view=text;rgn=main
- Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Felix. 1996. What is Philosophy? New York: Colombia University Press.
- Manning, Erin. 2013. Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
- Massumi, Brian. 2017. The Principle of Unrest. London: Open Humanities Press.