A few years ago, the ‘UFO cult’ leader claimed to have cloned human beings, and was widely dismissed as a crass self-publicizer and hoaxster.
‘Once we can clone exact replicas of ourselves,’ he says on the Clonaid website, ‘the next step will be to transfer our memories and personality into our newly cloned brains, which will allow us to truly live forever.’
His latest achievement is only slightly less ambitious. He has undertaken to single-handedly restore the clitorises (clitori?) of African women disfigured by the tribal ritual of clitoral excision. Rael is passionate in this cause, since the beneficiaries ‘now have the possibility to regain sexual pleasure and be whole once again.’
Christianity, Platonism, and various political movements that aim toward a distant utopian future, and any other philosophy that devalues human life and the world around us (and any philosophy that devalues the world around us by privileging some other or future world necessarily devalues human life), Nietzsche tells us it is also a threat for humanity’s future. This warning can also be taken as a polemic against 19th and 20th century scientism.
I’m not interested in argueing whether this is actually what Nietzsche actually said/meant. It more or less sums up the problem to me.
Here’s a conversation at World Changing about optimism and pessimism (which also links to this sort of “portal article” about the problems we face and the rate of change). I consider myself a skeptical optimist. I believe we can overcome our current social and environmental problems. But it will take work and adaptation.
Deliver Us from Evil is a documentary about the Catholic sexual abuse scandal. Winner of the LAFF Best Documentary and tells the story of one of the most notorious paedophile priests in the history of the Catholic Church.
Follow the jump for the trailer…
Late night rant about techno-utopianism and passitivity in dangerous times:
I think there’s a great value in technology, and I think much of our ability to survive in the future will be based around technological innovation. But a lot of it is going to also have to depend on adaptation. We simply cannot continue our current path and expect technology to solve all our problems. It’s faith in technology for salvation. It’s not science, it’s religion.
Our systems are much more fragile than we often want to think. We talk about how the Internet was designed to keep functioning after a nucleur attack, feeling secure that our drip-feed of information will survive whatever we throw at it. Yet, as Abe Burmeister pointed out in late July, the Internet is already showing strain from global warming:
The current summer heat wave has been blamed for taking out MySpace for 12 hours, and more anecdotally the internet does not seem to be weathering the weather to well. The few mailing lists I subscribe to are filling up with tales of server fires and emails failing or being delayed far more than usual. Tales that are mirrored pretty accurately in my own webhosting and email accounts.
The internet is a big network of servers, and servers are hot. They devour electricity, they run hot and they mainline air conditioning. When the global thermostat goes up, the servers start going down. It is all a bit of sci-fi now, but could it be that one of the big casualties of global warming might just end up being the internet?
That same heat wave took down Dreamhost, which hosts both Abe’s blog and Technoccult (along with many other blogs, like Sauceruney‘s). Wireless mesh networks take some of the pressure off big hot servers, but they will require a pretty radical change in how the internet operates. And without adequate energy, we could all be using low-fi hand-cranked laptops in the future (if we can even build enough to go around). Effecient energy generation is the biggest stumbling block towards a post-scarcity society, and peak oil may already be here.
And, as wu just pointed out, even after 5,506 years of civilization, we still haven’t figured out not to shit where we eat. Forget food replicating machines or whatever the hell, we still need to figure out how to grow food without poisoning ourselves.
So for a moment, can we stop dreaming about a future where all our wants and needs are served by technologies (conveniently created by other people, of course), and start thinking about how we can alter our world *right now* to live both more comfortably and more sustainably? World Changing seems to provide the best resource for this right now.
A couple weeks ago I was asking about post-civilization thinkers, and was kind of dismissive of Terrence McKenna. This was unfair. McKenna was an advocate for a more simple lifestyle, sustainable energy and agriculture, and, most importantly, a sort of DIY approach to utopianism. He really wasn’t into the “kick back and wait for the nanotech revolution” thing. I remember one interview, I think it was in the Archaic Revival, in which he speculated that the “big event” in 2012 might be space travel. He said something about how we would be traveling to the heavens, and that maybe “heaven” isn’t something that we’re meant to just be handed by the gods – but something that we have to build ourselves.
So, on that note: the question is, what can each of us do as individuals to ensure our collective, comfortable survival? Even if we’re not engineers? The answer will be different for everyone, but will likely involve a combination of lifestyle choices and pro-active work.
For my part, I’ve been working on driving less, radically reducing my consumption of meat and other animal products, living in dense housing, and helping out with that whole e-waste thing. It’s a start, I guess. I’m curious about what others are doing. I’m always looking for ideas.
Here’s an interesting, NLP-esque ritual from TOPY.
This exercise should be repeated every day for 23 days, and at least once per week there after.
Sit comfortably in front ov a mirror.
Move your eyes around, first clockwise direction, then do it in an anti-clockwise direction. Do it a bit longer than you find comfortable. Check your position: are you sitting differently, breathing differently, has soum part ov your body becoum rigid?
Now look into thee mirror and wait until your breathing has becoum even.
Try to put the following expressions into your eyes:
Being there: your Presence in thee eyes.
This should be carried out until you feel that the mirror is definitely staring back at you and that there is soumthing tangible between you and thee mirror.
Pick our one of the first five experiments and try to keep it in your eyes while you look up, down, and to thee sides. Do not look at thee mirror while doing this. Again check your position. Have your facial expressions changed while doing this?
Now relax again. Close your eyes and think ov soum experience which you feel was sad or bad for you. It is very likely that you will have remembered something like that while going through thee first part ov the exercises.
Visualize that experience as clearly as you can and then make it run backwards until you have reached thee point just before thee difficult part started. Keep the image steady then let it fade to WHITE. Slowly. Now build out ov thee white an image ov what you would have liked to happen, soumthing that you feel good. If you are left with a feeling ov relief or exhiliation, allow that feeling to flow through you and then find a spot on one ov your upper arms, preferably where you have a tattoo or birthmark, press it gently with a ginger and then visualize thee feeling being stored in that point.
After doing this for a few times thee spot will in effect becoum a battery or storehouse for that energy and you can press it like a button when you need access to a bit ov optimism and well-being. Sounds stupid? Try, do it, and then report back to us.
Intel is researching dynamic physical rendering, using silicon to create three dimensional objects that can be touched and changed.
The application is still very sci-fi, but the idea behind the project is that it will create what could be described as a touchable, malleable hologram.