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Posthumanism and the guitar

Is the electric guitar posthuman? Is that a weird question?

Ten years ago it might have been. Now I’m not so sure…


Posthuman, transhuman

Bear with me here. I have to lay a little groundwork.

Unlike transhumanism – the desire to augment humans physically and intellectually – the posthuman (related to posthumanism) is a human that has gone beyond humanism. And humanism approaches the world by emphasizing human interests over the interests of non-humans.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t recognize a connection between human and non-human. We’re up here, they’re down there. And if we think that way, we close down different ways of thinking that might lead to useful insights.

After all, we learn to know ourselves through daily interactions not just with other people, but with animals and with things. Things like the guitar. By trying to get better at it, we test our limits and learn about ourselves.


Talking to the guitar

A posthumanist attitude places humans and machines in a relationship that recognizes connection. So how does this connection change how you approach that machine we call the electric guitar?

Think of it this way:


Question: How do you connect to (or communicate with) the guitar?

Answer: With your thoughts and feelings communicated through your fingers.


How does the guitar connect/communicate with you? Through the sound it makes; this sound is its feedback that you use to learn about yourself.

That feedback could be…


  1. That sounds great.
  2. That doesn’t sound great. Which leads to…
  3. You need to work on whatever doesn’t sound great.


The guitar is almost like a mentor, taking input from you and giving information that enables you to get better.

Try it. Play something, and see what thoughts arise in your mind. Think of those thoughts as the guitar communicating with you.

Am I insane? Deluded? No, I’m a guitar player totally engaged with the instrument.

There are reasons I do things like this.



When I think of playing the guitar as creating a connection, I feel a sense of openness and possibility. The guitar is no longer just a thing; it actually feels like an extension of me, integrating information it receives from my body, coordinating it and organizing it into a stream of non-verbal communication.

Because of this, I feel more connected to the sound I’m making. And because of that, the expression of that sound feels deeper, more meaningful. When I pick up the guitar, it becomes a collaborative venture instead of a human manipulating a tool.

This change in perspective has changed the quality of my time with the guitar. It feels more positive, and the things that I make feel more like what I want to make, instead of what I think other people want me to make.

I find a bit more of myself every time.

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