We are experiencing a historical turning point, which pushes us to redefine our relationship with nature and the construction we make of our reality. The effects of the pandemic have come to stay; causing the impotence of a system under terrorist threat, and the surreal effect of a global quarantine. This crisis has caused aftermath that forces us to think and hasten our future in response to the crisis.
In this maelstrom of the future, I wonder how covid narratives accelerate the transformation of the dimensions of 'reality' and 'natural'; and what their effects might be on the stage of future promises that challenge what we mean by 'the human' and the conditions of possibility of a subject.
In the press conferences, military uniforms are shown, the state of alarm is declared and the lack of control of states becomes palpable. This whole narrative creates the effect: "war against the virus", which mobilizes a war speech by putting the undoitical of nature in the place of the enemy; the tactic with which we respond is technological, control and hygienic.
"Against the fearsome outside world one can only defend onesefied by any form of estrangement if he intends to solve this problem only for himself. There is, of course, another better way: to move on to attack on Nature and submit it to the will of man, as a member of the human community, using science-led technique; thus, you work with everyone for the well-being of all"
Freud, as if he had written in the midst of confinement, also alludes to hygiene as a symptom of civilizing neurosis: "We are not even surprised when someone comes to establish the consumption of soap as an index of culture." The idea that nature threatens our civilizing status is reinforced by explanations of the origin of the virus as a product of eating habits that for the West are closer to the wild.
We can sum up this position with the sentence: "Nature is the greatest bioterrorist," which I hear a scientist say as I watch a documentary about covit. These narratives of attack and domination emphasize the position that confronts the natural to the human that I will later resume to think about its relevance in future scenarios.
Parallel to the war position versus the covid, other voices are heard that pulverize social networks. With the tone of "I told you so," the crisis reminds us of how 'irresponsible' we are with our planet. From the confinement we witnessed in the net the fantasy of a world without humans, with dolphins in Venice and the wild taking the cities. This provokes an environmentalist impulse, making covid the precedent of a global crisis that we do not attend despite warnings.
In both cases, war and environmental discourses place us in a position against the natural of prudent, civilized, hygienic, domination or protection distance. This gap between the human and the natural accounts for a paradigm that does not respond to the challenges of an age when the artificial and the virtual require other categories to understand our reality.
It is not an easy task to define what we mean by 'reality'. That is why I allow myself a slip of rigor to understand reality from our effective daily life; as what organizes our material and subjective experience of being in the world. If we stop to think about the effects the pandemic has had on how we perceive the world, it is clear to recognize the role of the virtual in the daily life of confinement. During confinement, the online modality becomes more natural to the body, which for many, has led to a reinvention of the use of the internet. This is noticeable when video calls, somewhat uncomfortable at first, lose the representation of a simulated encounter to feel more 'real'. This experience shows that reality has a fictional structure, and serves as an antechamber to rethink the apparent opposition between the virtual and the real.
Parallel to this virtual reality phenomenon, covid has also led to an acceleration of technological use with biopolitical control practices. This effect is accompanied by the advance of the alarm state to the surveillance state, causing the need to take leapt bioethical steps to win the race to the virus.
To these futuristic narratives of the virtual encounter, and digital control, is added to that of the manipulation of the body, which provokes a turn in the goznes that sustain our reality. Take, for example, the case of advances in genetic editing, which are seen as a possible technique to combat the virus. This technique is a technological leap already achieved, so this acceleration occurs above all in the bioethical field. This implies that the pandemic could be a privileged catalyst that pushes them to risk experimentation and finish ushering in the era of human genetic editing. This scenario leads us to project ourselves into the future of imminent transhumanism.
A new paradigm?
The post-human debunks the natural condition of the body, and the digital breaks the material condition of reality. We must not travel to the future to warn that we need a paradigm shift that otherwise organizes our social reality and the relationship we have with nature.
The covid crisis projects us towards futuristic paradoxes, who help us to be aware of the programmed obsolescence that the opposition between the natural and the artificial, as well as in our antagonistic conception between the real and the virtual. What new paradigms would be possible if we break with the dualistic models that support our identifications as individuals, and as a species?
Santiago Rueda M