A vision of collective enlightenment

One of the most posthuman characteristics about the Ana-race, and the one I will focus on in this essay, is their transcendence of human emotions. This seems to be at the center of their highly evolved society, and can be viewed as an expression of a deeper understanding of life, which as Zee explains (p. 54), is deeply connected to the discovery of Vril.

Vril is described as the essence or an all-permeating fluid behind phenomena, that is of a neutral nature much akin to electricity. When discovering Vril they discovered that: “(…) the various forms under which the forces of matter are made manifest have one common origin (…)” (p. 45). It seems likely that a deep understanding of this common origin they call Vril, would be paralleled on a spiritual or existential level, and I argue that this is the most essential part of their posthuman society, and the thing that really distinguishes them as another race.

The reason why I think that the foundation of their posthumanity is of a spiritual nature, is because of the radically different way they relate to the world, one that seems impossible from the present level of human consciousness.
As the narrator explains, when talking about the ancient history of the Ana and the type of society before the discovery of Vril:

“(…) It was the age of envy and hate, of fierce passions, of constant social changes more or less violent, of strife between classes, of war between state and state (…)”. (s. 54)

This is in strong contrast to the way of being that the Ana-race represents, and is at the same time an all too accurate description of the situation aboveground. It clearly demonstrates that the discovery of Vril brought about a shift in consciousness so radical that it made all those previous evils obsolete.
Status and hierarchy are gone, crime unknown and hence also law-enforcement, competition and striving for superior wealth and rank is absent and so is poverty. (p.58-60)

“All the members of the community considered themselves as brothers of one affectionate and united family.” (p.61)

The discovery of Vril could therefore be likened to the realization of oneness – in other words enlightenment. A way of being that is described as so foreign to our normal way of perceiving reality, that it is hard to even imagine. This discrepancy in perception of reality, could be the source of the narrators mixed reaction to the Ana-race. They seem so non-human in their lack of emotions, so different in their calm and collected ways, that the narrator cannot help to feel a tinge of uneasiness and dread, despite their warm welcome and extreme consideration.

“(…) strangely enough, it seemed to me that in this very calm and benignity consisted the secret of the dread which the countenances inspired. They seemed as void of the lines and shadows which care and sorrow, and passion and sin, leave upon the faces of men (…)” (s. 21)

“The Coming Race”, although probably not originally intended to, could be read as a metaphor for what could be termed collective enlightenment – the realization of oneness, that inevitably dissolves the sense of separation and consequently changes all aspects of life. Only when the Ana-race discovered Vril did they evolve to something posthuman, characterized by the radically different perception of life. Therefore; the Ana race and civilization could only be possible due to a shift in consciousness – from a sense separation to the realization of oneness – and that is what mainly makes them posthuman.

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5 Comments on "A vision of collective enlightenment"

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Charlotte Grum
Hi Maja. Thanks for your take on the narrative – I read it with interest as I have also discussed the Vril phenomena in my post – relating it to the concept of Zoe. I have been attending Rosi Braidotti’s summer school twice and have listened to her thoughts on differing bio-life from the non-human life force – as I understand it – running through all phenomena of the world. In that sense it can be understood as oneness. I find it interesting to reflect upon whether this ‘oneness’ is spiritual, existential or simply a non-human materialist process of evolution… Read more »
Eva Krarup
Eva Krarup
Hi Charlotte, I find it really interesting that you compare the vril to Braidotti’s concept of Zoe (in your own essay as well, I’ve chosen to comment on it here because I think it would be relevant to discuss in relation to Maja’s more spiritual understanding of it). Would you mind explaining the concept of zoe a bit more to me and participants who have not read Braidotti? I am no expert in Braidotti at all so I might very well be wrong, but isn’t there a level of mysticism in the vril in The Coming Race that Braidotti seeks… Read more »
Charlotte Grum
Hi Eva. Maybe we could agree that there are different ways to configure the larger-than-human force at play in the narrative of the Anas.. I guess I tried to re-configure it by asking what if it is understood in material terms? I guess both a spiritual take and Braidotti’s take on Zoe indicates a monist ontology, see for example http://amodern.net/article/amoderns-thinking-zoe/ In The Posthuman (Braidotti, 2013:60) Zoe is explained as the transversal force that cuts across and reconnects previously segregated species, categories and domains, criticising the opportunistic trans-species commodification of Life that is the logic of advanced capitalism. It is a… Read more »
Haiyan Lee

The third quotation in your post–the one where the narrator expresses his unease toward the eerie absence of emotions among the Ana-race–also struck me as very poignant and revealing. If the emotions are what make us human, then the Ana indeed represent a post-human scenario that is both alluring and disturbing. It seems that by overcoming strife, disease, and biological limitations by means of a magical force, they have also given up what makes human life meaningful and beautiful: individuality, plurality, striving, serendipity, and so on and so forth.

Kim Haagen Mathiesen

Very interesting and well writting perspective. I do agree about the spiritual nature of the vril. I find a certain naivety over the magical assumption that a posthuman turn will appear magically by discovering the one truth. This may make sense in the historical setting, in which it was written and also bear a religious undertone to it. One could also see their society as a society where one discourse has managed to get total hegemony and rebellious acts, like acting on the human feeling of jealousy is servilely punished.