When we abandon the modern world, we do not fall upon someone or something, we do not land on an essence, but on a process, on a movement, a passage—literally a pass, in the sense of this term as used in ball games. We start from a continuous and hazardous existence–continuous because it is hazardous–and not from an essence; we start from a presenting, and not from permanence. We start from the vinculum itself, from passages and relations, not accepting as a starting point any being that does not emerge from this relation that is at once collective, real and discursive. We do not start from human beings, those latecomers, nor from language, a more recent arrival still. The world of meaning and the world of being are one and the same world, that of translation, substitution, delegation, passing. We shall say that any other definition of essence is “devoid of meaning”; in fact, it is devoid of the means to remain in presence, to last. All durability, all solidity, all permanence will have to be paid for by its mediators.
—Bruno Latour in We Have Never Been Modern (1991).