Trans/human Choices: How to articulate the human and the transhuman? ?Sailing to Byzantium? ?Beggars in Spain? ?Mr. Boy? (Another) definition of SF (and not sci-fi) SF is ?a complex hesitation about the relationship between imaginary conceptions and historical reality unfolding into the future. SF orients itself within a concept of history that holds that science and technology actively participate in the creation of reality, implanting human uncertainty into the natural/nonhuman world.? Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, ?The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction? Is tranformation inevitable? ?At the same time, sf?s hesitations also involve a sense of fatality about instrumental rationality?s power to transform or to undermine the conditions of thought that gave rise to it. The same freedom that detaches nature from a mythology of natural necessity restores that fatality, ironically, in the irrepressible drive of human beings to transform nature continually and without transcendental limits.? ? ?Seven Beauties of Science Fiction? Seven characteristics of SF (according to Csicsery-Ronay) 1. Fictive neology (signa novi, new words/worlds) 2. Fictive nouvums (novum =?new thing?) 3. Historical futurism (future related to present) 4. Imaginary science (deviations from present knowledge) 5. Science-fictional sublime 6. Science-fictional grotesque (impossible fusions; e.g., Mr. Boy) 7. Technoscientific adventures (transformations) ?Sailing to Byzantium? Robert Silverberg (1985) ? Importance of point of view ? Why narrate in third person, why focalize through Charles Phillips? ?Free indirect discourse: the ?middle voice? Shifting voice ?Being here was much like going to the movies, Phillips told himself. A different show every day; not much plot, but the special effects were magnificent and the detail work could hardly have been surpassed. . . He chose not to question the means by which Alexandria had been set before him. It felt real. It was real (10). The Visitors ? The social castes: temporaries citizens visitors Francis Willoughby, from the 16th century Y?ang-Yeovil, from the 25th century What is hidden from view ? The robot workers; forbidden to see them work ??The planners??what is their relation to the citizens? ? May the citizens be like the Eloi? (H. G. Wells, The Time Machine) ? Artistic choices in keeping the planners out of sight What is reality? Charles?s discovery that he is ?software? Cf. Lem: ?A sufferer is one who says he suffers? Empathy for the protagonist Gioia?s choice: die or be converted to software SF characteristics 1. Fictive neology (signa novi, new words/worlds) 2. Fictive nouvums (novum =?new thing?) 3. Historical futurism (future related to present) 4. Imaginary science (deviations from present knowledge) 5. Science-fictional sublime ?Sailing to Byzantium? William Butler Yeats, 1926 ? That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees - Those dying generations - at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. ? O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. Art vs. Technology Art as a refuge from mortality Technology as the achievement of immortality Is there a difference? How or why does it matter? ?Beggers in Spain,? Nancy Kress (1991) 1. Fictive neology 2. Fictive nouvums ? 3. Historical futurism ? 4. Imaginary science Constructing a new social dynamic ? Sleepless vs. Sleepers ? Introduce genetic change ? Then make it heritable ? Sleepless and life extension How the story is built ? Roger Camden: 4 ½ feet tall ? Elizabeth Camden ? Focalization shift from Ong to Susan Melling (207-213) ? Focalization shifts to Leisha: why not her from the beginning? ? Leisha the Sleepless; Alice the ?normal? The philosophy Keno Yagai: cold fusion power His philosophy: ?the only dignity, the only spirituality, rests of what a man can achieve with his own efforts? (p. 219-220). ?Only freedom?the freedom to achieve, the freedom to trade freely the results of achievement?creates the environment proper to the dignity and spirituality of man? (p. 220) Yagaiist philosophy ?Roger Camden: ?a man?s worth to society and to himself doesn?t rest on what he thinks other people should do or be or feel, but on himself. On what he can actually do, and do well. People trade what they do well, and everyone benefits. The basic tool of civilization is the contract. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial. As opposed to coercion, which is wrong? (219). Gender Politics ?Two years ago Susan had finally left genetic research to run Camden?s house and schedule; before that she had tried hard to do both. Since she had left Biotech, it seemed to Leisha, Susan had changed. Her voice was tighter. She was more insistent that Cook and the gardener follow her directions exactly, without deviation. Her blonde braids had become stiff sculptured waves of platinum? (p. 222) One?s worth as an individual ? Worth determined by what one can do and trade ? Individual effort counts for everything ? Therefore: Leisha is worth more than Alice ? Cf. transhumanism Paranoia about the Sleepless ? Cf. Nova children in Darwin?s Radio ? Is competition with Sleepless fair? Jeannie barred from Olympic skating, Chris left Standford, Kevin Baker villified, etc. ? Local statues: feeling of panic ? Child abuse ? Kidnapping ? Sanctuary Tony and beggars in Spain ?Beggar ?has nothing to give? (236) ? Give to the first: how about a hundred? ?Leisha: ?Too draining on my own resources. My life has first claim on the resources I earn? Yagiist philosophy in family Roger Camden reveals Elizabeth is still alive ??She didn?t like what you were, was jealous of what you could become. And she had nothing to give you. She would only have caused you emotional harm.? ?That was wrong, Dad. You were wrong. She?s my mother. . . ?? (240) How to evaluate this scene? Alice?s experience: her mother is toxic, no answer there Falls back on self-help Leisha and Alice together rescue Stella Leisha?s revelation ??Yes, there are beggars in Spain who trade nothing, give nothing, do nothing. But there are more than beggars in Spain. Withdraw from the beggars, you withdraw from the whole damn country. And you withdraw from the possibility of the ecology of help. That?s what Alice wanted . . . She wanted to help me. . . Beggars need to help as well as be helped? (260). How would Transhumanism change? ?Implications of ?an ecology of help?? ? Is tranformation inevitable? ? Do transhumans have a responsibility to humans? Do humans to transhumans? James Patrick Kelly, ?Mr. Boy? Publication 1990;. Included in short story collection, Think Like a Dinosaur, Hugo Award, 1996 ?Mr. Boy? Stennie the dinosaur ?Mr. Boy? as 25-year-old with twanked genes Mother as 11-story replica of Statue of Liberty Living inside the mother?s body Her remotes: Nurse, greeter, Lovey and Dear Victimless Leather: Immortalized cell lines which are cultured and form a living layer of leather like tissue in the form of miniature stitch-less coat shape. Symbiotica A Lab, University of Western Australia Symbiotica A Lab ? Extra Ear 1/4 Scale (in collaboration with Stelarc). A 1/4 scale replica of artist Stelarc?s ear grown using human (Stelarc?s) cells. The ear is cultured in a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor which allows the cells to grow in a 3D structure. Stelarc and the ?extra ear? Speaker in mouth, ear speaks rather than listens A collaboration with Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr of Tissue Culture & Art Symbiotica Lab ? Disembodied Cuisine. Pre-natal sheep skeletal muscle cells cultured onto/into a degradable polymer (PGA) scaffold to create a semi-living steak. Upon creation this project was cooked and eaten. Are rat neurons artists? Mr. Boy?s corpse porn When Stennie wants ?practice? with Lovey Mr. Boy goes over his porn collection Erotica as life, porn as death The Joplins Her family are ?realists? ??Everybody needs work to do,? Mrs. Joplin said. ?Unless you have work to do and people who love you, you don?t exist.?? Mr. Joplin: ?Your body isn?t some machine that you?ve downloaded into. It?s alive. Real. You have to learn to listen to it. . . You?re rigid and angry and scared. Reality. . . Your body is speaking to you? (188). In the head ?No one lived here. It had never occurred to me that there was no Mom to touch. She had downloaded, become an electron ghost tripping icy logic-gates. ?How long have you been dead?? (p. 302) :All those years I had loved her, I had been in love with death . . . I realized now that the door had always stayed locked because Mom had to hide what she had become.? ? From Mr. Boy to Peter Cage ?If I wanted, I could have destroyed her. Downloaded intelligences have no more rights than cars or wiseguys. Mom was legally dead and I was her only heir. I could have had her shut off, her body razed. But somehow it was enough to go, to walk away from my inheritance. I was scared, and yet with every step I felt lighter. Happier. Extremely free.? hayles Slide 1
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