Who Comes after the Anthropocene?
I remember my immediate fascination with an edited collection, now twenty years old, Who Comes After the Subject? The title seemed to entirely displace the identity of the subject, the “of-courseness” of its uniquely human definition. Indeed, its provocation did more than destabilise the what and where of the subject, as if we might extend this complexity, albeit in attenuated form, to non-human entities. The more radical implication was a destabilisation of human identity itself—its circumscribed location—together with the progress narrative that made the arrival of language, technology and agential smarts synonymous with human achievement. As contemporary concern about planetary health is galvanized around the unique power of human agency to either ruin or redeem an impassive and defenceless Nature, a “before” that lacks what being a subject affords, this article will linger over the logic that continues to sustain this story. By reworking Derrida’s “originary writing” as “originary humanicity,” a different sense of ecological involvement might be possible.