Recent writing in the field of posthumanism challenges the strict bifurcation between life and death or dead and undead. In this paper I analyze the performance piece Human Oil by Peng Yu to ask how the field of posthumanism may account for loss if death ceases to be a workable concept. Drawing on the work of Donna Haraway and Mel Chen, I introduce the notion of the failed encounter to show how loss emerges the moment our becomings are no longer mutually meaningful. Even if others are never quite dead, we produce death when we face the incomprehensible absence of the corpse – the very absence posthuman theory seeks to deconstruct.
Posthumanism, death, grief, encounter, animacy.
Digressions 1.1 (2015), pp. 4-16
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