Hybridity is the new metamorphosis

In an effort to try and attach a small detour to the general posthuman road on which we have travelled far I found an essay called ”Hybridity is the new metamorphosis” from 2012 by the english writer and professor Harvey L. Hix. In his text Hix explains how the notion of transformation in context with becoming ”the other” has changed from a focus on metamorphosis to the current discourse of hybridity. As Hix writes;

”In a metamorphosis, then, one form replaces another; but altogether only two forms are involved. In a hybrid, two forms join to create a form that is neither the one nor the other; so three forms are involved or implied. Metamorphosis is a substitution of one form for another, hybridity a combination of one form with another.” (Hix: “Hybridity is the new metamorphosis”,p. 273)

Michael Kvium - Untitled (1993)
Michael Kvium – Untitled (1993): Some may find the danish painter Michael Kvium’s neither-or-entities disturbing but within them is very empathically illustrated the fragile interdependence between hybrid entity and outside conditions.

Where metamorphosis mainly focuses on human subject becoming other in form but still remaining distinctively humanistic in conscious (As for instance in the case of Zeus changing forms and still remaining godly in mind), hybridity is neither the narrative of the exceptional human self or “the other” but indeed the creation of the third fluent posthuman entity. What is especially notable in regards to Hix’s contribution is the description of how this change of discourse has affected the posthuman’s political potential.
The hybridity thought provokes action from the subject, as the conditions are no longer outside the self or easily displaced in “the other” but is now in the core of vulnerability in all hybrid entities including us.

“In a world of hybridity, in contrast, nothing saves me from myself; instead of the external world threatening to overwhelm me, I (we, humanity) threaten to overwhelm it. Now that we are mechanical/digital cyborgs, the events to forestall are those (such as oil spills) that follow from our condition, but are ultimately not only destructive of other things but also self-destructive.” (His: “Hybridity is the new metamorphosis”, p. 278)

What may at first seem like a banal side note in regards to the overall progress in the field of posthumanism is actually a very valid nuance in an important move away from the hegemonic transformation of self-to-other-and-back and towards a ”meshy” (A grateful tip of the hat to Morton) hybrid merger of selves and entities.


Hix, Harvey L.: “Hybridity is the new metamorphosis”, Comparative Critical Studies, 9.3 (2012): 271–283 Edinburgh University Press

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3 Comments on "Hybridity is the new metamorphosis"

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Sebastian Edin

Hi Sofie,

Thank you for your post! It got me thinking of a book I read recently that handles a similiar subject area as your post here, namely Bruce Clarke’s “Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems”, in which Clarke through a systems theoretical approach analyses narratives centered on metamorphosis in modern and pre-modern times, and what those narratives can tell us of the posthuman condition. I’ll provide a link to Stanford Press so you can read the blurb yourself:)


Eva Krarup
Eva Krarup

Hi Sofie, I like that you bring up Kvium, I haven’t thought of him in the context of the posthuman before, but when you mention him here I wonder why. Do you see paintings like Short Stories 72, As Domestic as Milk and Oil I + II, Future Jam and his paintings from 2000 as dystopic thematizations of the posthuman?