Taken as a whole, the films studied here offer a new mythology for the twenty-first century, redrawing the lines between gods and mortals, creators and creation, origins and ends, human and nonhuman. This new mythology is one that places the human, or at least a certain understanding of the human that has prevailed since the Enlightenment, in a position of inferiority, even of obsolescence, in relation to new beings or modes of being that the human has had a hand in producing, indeed whose DNA we sometimes completely share, but who, in their infinite adaptability, have outstripped us. These narratives reveal the fragility of the human—its body and biology, its reason and mind, its hold on the world—and its inevitable replacement by something else, something stronger and more adaptable. Both our horror of and fascination for these creatures stems from the resemblance between them and us; they represent a true evolution in the sense that they are human and not human, human and beyond human. Since Immanuel Kant proclaimed at the end of the eighteenth century that the human is an end in itself, a certain attitude of exceptionalism has prevailed. Even in Darwin’s works, there is a sense that the human represents the pinnacle of evolution. There is nothing after the human; how could there be?
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- Palgrave Macmillan US