Communication is important to me. In relationships, in housing, in
life. I think this is part of the reason why linguistics attracts me
so. I also think this is the big reason why ldap has been so irking
(see, documentation is communication too). And communication is, in
many ways, about understanding, about conveying a certain ineffable
factor of one's consciousness to others, and in so doing binds you to
them, makes community, makes society.
I've been reading a lot of
Transhuman Space recently. Unfortunately
two of the books I recently got which I was looking forward to have
been, imo, poorly done by the standards of SJ Games. (Both by the same
author, so it may reflect more on his skill/style than on SJ Games.)
But the two others I've read so far,
, have both been quite entertaining.
And they've also gotten me thinking. Not quite so much as the core
book when first I read it, but still thinking. It's funny how even just
a few years can make what was once bleeding edge seem somehow quaint,
seem deep allegory for exploring questions of the self rather than a
future almost disturbing in its reality. Is it that the world has
changed so much in those intervening years, or is it merely that I have
Certainly I have changed, at least in degrees. I was thinking
earlier and have decided that perhaps I should like to live forever.
For those who've known me, you would know that this is quite a change.
I have always thought before that I should not like to live overlong;
tales and stories of the supernatural, of the undead and of illicit
pacts, I have taken true to heart: there is a deep sorrow in
immortality, more a cursing than could ever be thought of as
Now don't get me wrong, that I should come to desire long life is
not because of fear of death. Rather it is from an abiding curiosity.
Humanity is the strangest of creatures to think of itself with such
great importance. And yet humanity is a moving target. Even in just the
last century, look at all the changes in how societies are driven, in
our capabilities to manipulate and explore our environment, in how we
even conceive of ourselves and our place in the world and galaxy around
us. Imagine what another century will bring as David Pulver and so many
others have. Imagine the century after.
And think not of being born to those centuries but rather of having
lived through all the changes to bring them about. Imagine taking a
higher view and witnessing the evolution of all of humankind, and think
of grabbing the very essence of "humanity" in your hands and moulding
it, of redefining the very corpus of your life and place in existence.
For what are our bodies if not tools through which our spirits make
manifest our desires upon this world? And does it not make sense to
want for such work the best tool one can fashion and is equipped to
wield? And how can one take such a view and not wish to stand back and
witness the grand experiment, to gaze upon the unfolding era and bear
witness to the marvel that is eternity?
I'm not sure how long I've been a transhumanist. In truth, before
these past few weeks it's not a label I would have ever thought to
self-apply. But at the same time, I've had many of the same thoughts
before, if less well articulated. I've always been into body
modification, not just for the aesthetic of piercings or tattoos or
corsetry, but for the very principals behind the term. Certainly a
great portion of bodymod I find incredibly attractive, but bodymod is
not just about attraction it is about aesthetic in the broadest sense
of the term, it is about not taking one's body for granted but rather
viewing it as a work of art itself and as a vessel free to be
restructured. In many ways it is about treating the body as a temple,
not as an inviolate sanctuary as the straightedge and religious circles
would, but from the other side: as a blessed thing which should be
decorated and honoured.
But as I mentioned, it is not only about beauty. There is another
half to aesthetics that is oft overlooked, a darker side which some
find too disturbing to even consider for fear of questions it may raise
about themselves. I speak, of course, about the grotesque. There has
always been something richly appealing about things which ought appall
but which are rather disturbing in their beauty. There is another area
for which I lack a term, but has to do with corruption. Those who have
looked at the images on
urban_decay know exactly of what I speak. There are some forms of
bodymod which fall more in these latter categories than in the lighter
ones. Certainly some are done simply to shock mainstream society, but
others are about exploring those unsavory questions, about laying open
the assumptions we bear which make of a thing unthinkable and yet also
I think that as a species we are overfond of creating for ourselves
small cells of comfort in which we can live and need never question the
walls we've built around ourselves. Certainly the alternative, to know
that we are at once the greatest and least of beings in the universe,
to question not only our place in society but the very strictures of
society itself, to be forever uncertain, always questioning and not
ever receiving answers, to think that we may not be alone between the
stars in the gift of higher thought, or to embrace that fact that we
may quite possibly be the only sapient beings out there and yet know
the insignificance of that fact as the machinations of planets and
celestial bodies churn ever onward in spans we are unable to even
comprehend of— certainly the alternative is almost inconceivable.
And yet we so delight in such thoughts. Every culture has questioned
its place in the divinity of creation, in every era there are those who
would refute common wisdom and think of a larger model with which to
view ourselves, our planet, our reality. Imagine what a thousand
thinkers who were persecuted for that crime would think were they still
alive today. What would Galileo say about postmodernism? What would
Socrates think of sustainable living? Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
wish to colonize Mars?
Lately I've been feeling out of place with myself. I'm not sure I
feel like going into that just now as my hour is almost up, but it's
something that has been weighing on me. I'm beginning to think however,
that perhaps it's time for an overhaul. Perhaps it's time not merely to
change, but to redesign who I am. And yet the question remains, who
will I become? Or even: who am I? What do I hold dear that gives
meaning to my actions? Should I pare down to these essential things, or
are even those subject to modification? What meaning would any of my
beliefs have if they can be so freely alterable? Can I be said even to
believe, or is it but fashionable thinking? Or is there no meaning, but
merely an aesthetic, a free moment of thought caught in an expression
of flesh that it may be conveyed to others?
And now, the hour is over.