Corporealism is Transcorporealism

by Arran James

In a recent post at his blog, onticologist and onto-cartographer Levi Bryant has linked to an older post of his on Stacy Alaimo’s notion of transcorporealism. Here I reproduce a sample of Alaimo’s text also posted by Levi:

Imagining human corporeality [and I would argue, all corporeality] as trans-corporeality, in which the human is always intermeshed with the more-than-human world, underlines the extent to which the substance of the human is ultimately inseparable from “the environment.” It makes it difficult to pose nature as mere background, as Val Plumwood would put it, for the exploits of the human since “nature” is always as close as one’s own skin– perhaps even closer. Indeed, thinking across bodies may catalyze the recognition that the environment, which is too often imagined as inert, empty space or as a resource for human use, is, in fact, a world of fleshy beings with their own needs, claims, and actions. By emphasizing the movement across bodies, trans-corporeality reveals the interchanges and interconnections between various bodily natures. But by underscoring that trans indicates movement across different sites, trans-corporeality also opens up a mobile space that acknowledges the often unpredictable and unwanted actions of human bodies, nonhuman creatures, ecological systems, chemical agents, and other actors.

This is at the heart of the corporealism I’ve been discussing. It is also at the core of my critique of Timothy Morton’s aesthetic causation as spectral. Trans-lation, carrying-across, is not a matter of interpretation but of movement across interpenetrative bodies. Not ghosts, but lovers.