The Terrifying Allure of Nonhuman Cinema

When the drama of human life is secondary to the plot

A still from Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color (2013)

The characters exist to further the life cycle of a thing whose intelligence, inner life, and even existence cannot be known

It’s a frustrating experience at first, since the film prompts a number of questions about these people without offering any attempt to answer them. Normal character traits and developments that we’re used to become obscure and gnomic, because, we understand finally, here they are not borne of character motivations in the traditional sense — rather, these actions are just expressions of the life of the virus. The film ultimately doesn’t care about the human drama it portrays. The inner lives of these characters are as interesting as the inner lives of the orchids or the pigs.

The inner lives of these characters are as interesting as the inner lives of the orchids or the pigs.

At the same time, the machine of denial and resistance had begun to churn to life, creating spectacles of unmasked defiance. The colossal stupidity of politicized ignorance — both predictable and horrifying — made for ready breeding grounds and super spreader events across the country, from weddings to the White House.

Failed histories, histories of failure. Author of four books: The Unidentified, Ghostland, Afterlives of the Saints, and Cranioklepty.

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