Journeys Beyond the Human Body
We are all perpetually holding ourselves together. Our breath, our blood, our food, our spit, our shit, our thoughts, our attention—all tightly held, all the time. Then at death we let it all out, oozing at once into the earth and gasping at last into the ether.
The physical body has often been seen as a prison, as something to be escaped by any means necessary: technology, mechanization, drugs, sensory deprivation, alien abduction, Rapture, or even death and extinction. Taking in horror movies from David Cronenberg and UFO encounters, metal bands such as Godflesh, ketamine experiments, AI, and cybernetics, Escape Philosophy is an exploration of the ways that human beings have sought to make this escape, to transcend the limits of the human body, to find a way out.
As the physical world continues to crumble at an ever-accelerating rate, and we are faced with a particularly 21st-century kind of dread and dehumanization in the face of climate collapse and a global pandemic, Escape Philosophy asks what this escape from our bodies might look like, and if it is even possible.
“Too often philosophy gets bogged down in the tedious ‘working-through’ of contingency and finitude. Escape Philosophy takes a different approach, engaging with cultural forms of refusal, denial, and negation in all their glorious ambivalence.” —Eugene Thacker, author, In the Dust of This Planet
“Using Godflesh—the arch-wizards of industrial metal—as a framework for a deep philosophical inspection of the permeable human form reveals that all our critical theory should begin on the street where wasted teen musicians pummel their mind and instruments into culture-shifting fault lines. Godflesh are not just a ‘mirror’ of all the horrors and glories we can inflict on our bodies, but a blasted soundscape of our moans. Roy Christopher’s book is a thought-provoking and delightful crucible of film, music, and the best kind of speculative thought.” — Peter Bebergal, author, Season of the Witch
“In his trademark breezy yet precise style, Christopher discusses everything from stimoceivers to Southland Tales, everyone from Henry Lee Lucas to Brummbear, and all without ever losing sight of his central points of reference: our all too malleable somatic limits and Godflesh’s Streetcleaner. And the combination here could not be more apposite, for however much we stretch and augment the reaches of our physicality, imagining ourselves the theophanies of some as yet speculative deities, we get no closer to getting away from ourselves, becoming Godly it seems only in the sense of becoming increasingly empty.” — Gary J. Shipley, author, Stratagem of the Corpse
“Through the lenses of Godflesh, J.G. Ballard, UFO phenomena, psychedelics, serial killings, and so much else, Christopher investigates humanity’s growing inclination to escape our bodies, to escape our species, to escape life itself.” — B.R. Yeager, author, Negative Space
“A peculiar hybrid of Thomas Ligotti and Marshall McLuhan.” — Robert Guffey, author, Operation Mindfuck
“An interesting read indeed!” — Aaron Weaver, Wolves in the Throne Room
Table of Contents:
0. INTRODUCTION: Exit Tragedy
1. GODFLESH: Compound Worlds
2. BODY: The Root of All People
3. MACHINE: Mechanical Reproduction
4. RAPTURE: Through Grace and Time
5. DRUGS: Encounter Culture
6. DEATH: The End of an Error
7. END: Don’t Believe the Hope
Chapter 2 “BODY: The Root of All People”via Apocalypse Confidential
“Answering Machines” from Chapter 3 “MACHINE: Mechanical Reproduction” via my Substack Newsletter
“Crash Worship” from Chapter 3 “MACHINE: Mechanical Reproduction” via Malarkey Books
“Does the band Godflesh explain the current human condition? Before reading Escape Philosophy, I’d have been skeptical of this idea; now, I think I’m thoroughly on board. Christopher invokes the work of a number of artists who blend the transgressive and the transcendental (the aforementioned Godflesh, David Cronenberg, and dälek, among many others) and arrives at a new way of viewing the present moment.” — Tobias Carroll, Heavy Feather Review
Escape Philosophy is available as a free, Open Access .pdf file and a standard paperback from punctum books.