Vaidyanathan, Gayathri. “Big Gap between What Scientists Say and Americans Think about Climate Change.” Scientific American, ClimateWire, 30 Jan. 2015, www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-gap-between-what-scientists-say-and-americans-think-about-climate-change/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.
This article is what first introduced me to the posthuman concept. It establishes analytical points that outline both the motivation and the application of Post humanism within various aspects of society.
It first outlined the reason why post humanism is used frequently within pop culture and current mediums. Essential it is born from the dissatisfaction of everyday life. By envisioning something different, Post humanism motivates both religious and scientific thought. The idea of transcendence and the notion that “changing what we are means, in a way, letting go of what makes us suffer” (Marsen). Marsen points out that the foundation of Post humanism is its exploration on how we interact with the world differently. These changes to external circumstances result in both negative and positive reactions. The positive results would be the avoidance of suffering such as disease, isolation, poverty, oppression, and prejudice. However, these interactions also can instigate the blind acceptance of injustice.
Transhumanism, a subarea of Post humanism, also is a point of consensus. Reverence towards the scientific method, and its connection to human advancement, is the focus point of transhumanist teachings. Through precision, objectivity, and fallibility, transhumanist theorist are proponents of an advanced human condition. One could view them as activist looking to science to help relieve suffering from the human experience. Marsen also addressed the controversy circling this theory. Although transhumanist applications are no new phenomenon, and have allowed the human better control and understanding of their body, individuals fear the rate of change scientific and technological advancement is undergoing and insist on the proper path of integration for current and future advancements. One concern is the strong grasp of the internet. The Internet has become an embedded member in our lives, however fears arise as that grip becomes stronger and venture further between the cracks of our lives. Marsen presents studies that conclude non-physical spaces ignite escapism, addictive behavior, and emotional isolation.
Lastly, this article follows up with the emergence of technology as adaptive interfaces. This connects well with my independent novel Feed by M.T. Anderson (put link to another blog). Marsen highlights three components of the user interface and how they are used. First, is immersion. By engaging more and more of the user’s senses, interfaces construct a unique user experience that immerses them into false perception and a blurred view or reality. Second, is persuasion. These simulated environments are so immersive, that they link into the daily lives of the user, forcing them to classify it as a necessity. Lastly, interfaces eventually become a meeting ground between humans and machines. As interfaces become more adaptive, the user interface will become consciously human, resulting in potential dialogue or possible conflict.
As an introductory element of the Post human concept, it is rooted in multiple field of inquiry. Topics of transhumanism, perfection, social behavior, cognition, and technological interfaces are address as synthesized. Marsen created source for such a diverse topic!
Marsen, Sky. Ceoming More Than Human: Technolgy and the Posthuman Condition Introduction, Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 19, Issue 1 ,September 2008, pgs i-v http://jetpress.org/v19/marsen.htm
The human condition has come a long way, and even today we thrive on the concept of going further. Within the world of dystopian fiction, the definition of “human” is often the point of contrast. In a society, there are multiple pillars that support the foundation of progress, and improvements placed on infrastructure, transportation, and communication have made our surroundings ever-changing. Swarmed with so much external innovation, the aim eventually turns to the refinement of human nature. Altering the human form is current and optimistic, however in many dystopian texts these modifications lead to a disastrous world that is no longer human, but “post human”.
The novel Feed by MT Anderson takes place in future America. The world has gotten a little bit bigger, even adding a few planets to our diplomatic roster. Much innovation has occurred, yet so has much destruction. The latter is not discussed much, but we are given a clear picture of humanity, and it’s not what one would expect. The human population have acquired brain implants that allow them to access “The Feed” which connects the user to everything they could possible want or need. This becomes an artificial addition to the human body; however, technology is not the only alteration present. Due to the radiation exposure presented on Earth, adults striving to be parents must resort to genetic engineering. The book does not confirm how long radiation contact has been an issue, but Feed presents a new human race that can no longer produce children on their own. This alteration of genes also births the institution of cloning which appears specifically in the form of Abraham Lincoln by the main character’s best friend, Link. Even the main character, Titus, was modeled after his parent’s favorite male film star. Partnered with human infertility are the outward signs of Earth’s dire conditions. The hazardous effects of the environment appear in the form of throbbing lesions on the body. This is normal. In fact, lesions become so prevalent among the human population that they are even made into a fashion statement, with girls getting fake lesions or wishing for more. Humanity is almost unrecognizable. (Anderson, Feed)
When tackling the concept of dystopian post humanism, it’s easy to conjure up just the technological and scientific alterations of man, however it extends beyond that. Dystopias illustrates humanity that is very different than what we see it as now, and it often aids in the many sufferable conditions of the dystopian world. It seems that there is a limit placed on the human condition, and the distance of human exploration. While not all dystopian societies have the physical exaggerations like Feed, the majority presents humanity in new distorted shades. I’m interested in investigating the post human specimen, and how dystopias establish new constructs of the human race.
Anderson, Matthew. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002.
As all literary works aim to make an argument to persuade the readers, dystopian literature are distinct from all other genres in that it displays a devastating state of society where the problems are magnified infinitely to an unrealistic extent. In this hyperbolic form, dystopia serve as a warning to its readers, stimulating them to initiate certain changes in the society to prevent its fall to dystopia. Dystopian literature thus appears to me as an extreme approach through which the authors let out their cry against certain aspects of contemporary society. But, is it true that all dystopian authors feel that strongly about the social problems, that is, do they really believe that the problems can cause dystopia to form as depicted?
This question came to me when I finished M.T. Anderson’s Feed and his own afterword “On Feed.” (Since Feed is specifically set in the US, the following analysis will be focused on the US exclusively.) The US has long been a capitalistic society where free economy and consumerism dominate. It has already gone through the Jazz Age, the hyper-materialistic stage of consumerism, and the substance-short period of the Great Depression. It has given birth to numerous new technologies and huge companies, from Coca-Cola to Apple. With environmental issue brought into focus since the 1960s, most people are able to view consumerism critically, acknowledging material as necessary but not the most important element of life. So does Anderson really fear that consumerism can lead us to such a degraded environment and brainless society in Feed?
In the afterword, I found Anderson very honest about his views: “For me, the key to the discomfort — and the exploration — is how much I love some of it [the hyper-marketed world in Feed], how much I still do want to be slick like the people on the tube, beautiful, laughing, surrounded by friends…It is the anguish of indecision that animates it.” I have seldom seen authors thoroughly explaining their own thoughts on the themes of their work, and even fewer (none, I think, actually) presenting a conflict and their own mental struggle. Feed is a very unique work in that it does not advocate completely against consumerism, the deadly cause of the dystopia, but rather inflates its negative impacts to the greatest extent and simultaneously presents some of its fascinating features, leaving an open question to its readers: since we need a free market, how can we act as well-informed, intelligent and conscientious consumers that help preserve both the society and the natural environment?
I have, therefore, decided to research dystopian authors’ view about the social problem presented in their work through the lens of consumerism in dystopia. Through analyzing the ways in which the deadly flaws are presented and studies on the social impacts of consumerism, I will try to answer to question “do people really believe that consumerism is dangerous enough to lead to dystopia?” from a sociology perspective.