Gillespie/Woodard: the subject of speculation

Teresa Gillespie’s video/sound montage from body horror movies evokes the matter hell of an inhuman nature on which the human subject is asymmetrically dependent. As Ben Woodard observes in his commentary on Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, this can still be described as a rational acknowledger of norms; but to treat it as conceptually independent of its ground ignores the complicity or continuity of subject-nature explored in horror. Thus, as Woodard suggests, this entity is like Baron Munchausen, extricating himself from the quagmire by his own hair in some offworld environment free of physical constraints.


This nicely complements an argument I’ve made to the effect that the rational subject –  in analytical pragmatism, for example – presupposes an untheorized subject who invests the world with normative clothing (See Roden 2017 and here). Since this dark extra subject (hors-sujet) remains outside theory, the concept of agency cannot be unpacked in terms of normative compliance or assent. We seem supernatural, as Scott Bakker writes, “because we cannot cognize ourselves as natural, and so cognize ourselves otherwise” (Bakker 2014).

Bakker____2014, “Zahavi, Dennett, and the End of Being”, Accessed 22 June 2016

Roden, David (2017). On Reason and Spectral Machines: Robert Brandom and Bounded Posthumanism’., in Philosophy After Nature edited by Rosie Braidotti and Rick Dolphijn, London: Roman and Littlefield, pp. 99-119.

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