Letter to a Friend in the North

Posted on Mar 22, 2020


I’ve long believed that our species has risked extinction. This has been scientifically confirmed. There are two cases: one 120,000 years ago and one 70,000 years ago. The threat left its imprint on the species. To ward it off, it took leave of the wilderness. But in the end, it replicated the threat all on its own, provoking the possibility of its own extinction. We have now arrived at the final, decisive moment, the end of the wandering. In the penultimate chapter of The Emergence of Homo gemeinwesen, “The Current Situation,” I laid this out as precisely as I could. To sum up: in order to escape the “natural” threat, the species separated itself from nature; to escape the “anthropic” threat, it must reintegrate itself therein, which does not imply a fusion. Such a reintegration would necessitate an immense return of the repressed, of naturalness of the sort we see on display during natural disasters, in the solidarity and concern for others, etc. …as well as a suspension of the dynamics of enmity, which nowadays are necessarily transformed into dynamics of eradication, as they must not be introduced between those who opt or will opt for virtualization—at the expense of stripping away whatever is left of human relations—and those who will be affected by the return of the repressed.1

In other words, in an attempt to protect itself, the species has locked itself into a becoming, a wandering, and thereby become incapable of imagining anything else. It is this that constitutes its madness. This is apparent from the reactions of leaders in all the respective fields, whose underlying panic is barely concealed. We sense it, for example, in the fact that the Coronavirus seems irresistibly to evoke a threat.

What is interesting is that we are now witnessing the outcome of this vast phenomenon that has developed over thousands of years, stretched between the two great moments during which the threat of extinction asserted itself. We are at the heart of its unfolding—its manifestation, its epiphanization—a way of signaling the integral power of risk. It is as if nothing can happen, and yet everything happens now. However, we cannot predict how long it will take. The important thing is to last in order to be able to effectively live it in its totality, which requires re-establishing the pre-eminence of affectivity that affords us a sense of continuity and therefore of the power of life.

I should add that, if I am not speaking of capitalism, this is not only because capital is dead, its form having become autonomous; we possess only its virtuality, a fact which will play a decisive role in the denouement mentioned above.

I very much appreciated the text by Massimo de Carolis, which rightly highlights the enormous role of the virtuality that tends to replace naturalness.

All the best to you.

Have a good journey,

- J. C.

Translated by Ill Will Editions and the Vitalist International

  1. (Translator’s note) On the dynamics of enmity, see the recent text, “Inimitié et extinction” [“Enmity and Extinction”]. The latter opens with the claim that, “[w]hat prevents us from taking immediate and effective measures that can halt global warming and the destruction of nature are the dynamics of enmity that dominate the behavior of the species. The relationship between the two is obvious and inescapable: the dynamics of enmity inevitably lead to the extinction of the species.” ↩︎