We need to recognize that care is complex and that we aren't always the heroic caregiver in all the care stories we tell. Care does not happen, despite the familiar pictures in our heads, one-on-one between a single powerful caregiver and a single needy care-receiver. This kind of dyad gives rise to a frightening, seemingly inevitable, outcome of domination. In everyday reality, we negotiate caring needs, responsibilities, caregiving and care-receiving in many directions at once. Once we begin to think about caregivers and care-receivers in more complex relationships, we can easily break down any lingering assumptions that care is necessarily hierarchical.
The human as a constructible hypothesis
Inhumanism is the extended practical elaboration of humanism; it is born of a diligent commitment to the project of enlightened humanism. A universal wave that erases the self-portrait of man drawn in sand, inhumanism is a vector of revision. It relentlessly revises what it means to be human by removing its supposedly self-evident characteristics while preserving certain invariances. At the same time, inhumanism registers itself as a demand for construction: it demands that we define what it means to be human by treating the human as a constructible hypothesis, a space of navigation and intervention.
Inhumanism stands in concrete opposition to any paradigm that seeks to degrade humanity either by confronting it with its finitude, or by abasing it before the backdrop of the great outdoors. Its labor consists partly in decanting the significance of the human from any predetermined meaning or particular import established by theology—thereby extricating the acknowledgement of human significance from any veneration of the human that comes about when this significance is attributed to some variety of theological jurisdiction (God, ineffable genericity, foundationalist axiom, etc.).
Start with the plants, follow their inquisitive growth, their running roots and rhizhomes, the widespread movements of their pollen and seeds, and an entire ecology of beings and becomings and comings undone will soon become perceptible. Get caught up in the involutionary momentum that propels these beings to get entangled in one another’s lives and you will soon start to perceive affective ecologies taking shape among the thicket of relations all around you.
—Natasha Myers, anthropologist
Natasha Myers, ‘How to Grow Livable Worlds: Ten Not-so-easy Steps’, in The World to Come, edited by Kerry Oliver Smith, Gainsville, FL, 2018, pp. 53–63.