A few months ago I had some kind of enlightenment, but it was a dark enlightenment. I was in the dark and it was the dark that lit me up. It was the dark that flowed through me, who enveloped my body like a friendly presence would do (that’s why I call it endarkenment and why it’s a love word). It was then that I realized that if our time was this apocalyptic, it wasn’t only because it looked more and more like a stack of disasters, but also because some things absolutely essential were emerging. What is happening is unprecedented. Terribly, wonderfully so. Today, indeed, things are changing and worldviews are evolving. A fundamental movement is going throughout the world: affects are on the rise, starting to take their revenge, and despite this uprising, affects seem uncannily desirable to us. In our hearts, they look more like a cohort of rebellious angels than a plague.
The little animals play on the side of the road. From a distance, one might think of a fairy lair hidden in the nooks of a megalopolis, or fleas crawling inside the fur of a monster. It is dark and their presences resemble those of glowworms or will-o’-the-wisp. Cars are going full speed but some are starting to slow down because something there attracts them. Soon enough some will stop, humans will escape from the airtight cockpits, and join the multiform people of the night creatures turned into little beasts of the apocalypse. Then the blaze will burn them down and the world can start over.
We often quote the American scientists Scott Gilbert, Jan Sapp and Alfred Tauber, who concluded a 2012 article about new research on symbiosis in biology by saying “we are all lichens”. If this scientific quote has been so successful, it is because it uncovers one of the main secrets of our time: our longing for symbiosis, for ecstasy, for obliteration (indeed: humans want to disappear). This secret was already shown in reverse in Ridley Scott’s Alien. But we were not ready to understand it. Alien is not a film about the obvious horror of the Other, but a film about the dread which the latter inspires in humans. A film, therefore, in which the modern emotion par excellence is exhibited: the unspeakable fear of the other-in-oneself, the moral condemnation of the emotional drives, the repression of passion. Today aliens are smiling at us. Affects are back, and they wish us good. This contemporary fantasy should be called “Alien International” or “Visceral Communism”.
In light of the revelations behind our devastated bodies, the question is no longer one of survival, but of translife. It is no longer a matter of living on the ruins of the past, but of living through worlds, through time, through the bodies that make up these worlds and these times. It is no longer a matter of finding a peaceful place to end our lives, but of seeing in everything the image of a thorn pricked by another thorn. Pricking things being pricked. This is the ultimate image of non-binarity, of solving the opposition between suffering and power. It is weird to put it like that, but this image really is the threshold of another existence. And that is the apocalypse: the moment when one discovers in astonishment the existence of another existence. Then the melancholy creatures snort and move peacefully towards new lands where their bodies can bask in the light of the black sun. We need these thresholds, these passages, these kinds of stories. The world is nothing else, and the earth is too thick to be flat.
I pulled over to the roadside, got out of my car, climbed the crash barrier and walked in the dark. There were flickering lights far away and I wanted to follow them. The moon in the sky cast a light on the world from which I felt a power of destruction. I knew for sure that this destructive power was a wonderful thing. Every night the tears of the moon wash the world, destroying it. You have to squint a little to understand the meaning of this destruction. I walked for a long time and I could feel the tears destroying me too. My car was no more than a vague shape in the distance, like a sleeping monster, dying of exhaustion. And then I found what I was looking for. It was like a posthuman camp, with fires and shapes moving around. I felt so good there that I settled there. I must have forgotten my name in the glove box of my car because I felt radically anonymous. And then I suddenly fell asleep like a stack of pelts. The cursed world is by far the most beautiful.
Finally, Nietzsche’s dream may be coming true: chaos is giving birth to not one but to thousands of dancing stars. The animals swarm and teach us the true meaning of symbiosis: everything is guts, visceral, viscerally vital.A text by Romain Noël
My Eyes on You is an online exhibition curated by Hélène Padoux, Jung Min Lee and Luca Borsato.
Jung Min Lee & Matthew Muir
We warmly thank HFBK for their support and for hosting the website.