Wired for progre$$: Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, Rupert Pupkins and the Ick Factor, body hacking, body shoppers, and more 23c3 perpectives


When Neil Postman used to analyze the Media Ecology and the Technopoly he’d say that we were becoming heavily wired for a catastrophic excess of solutions to problems that didn’t previously exist, and that even our language for expressing the new social complexities was migrating into forms more groomed for pushing hair products. Then as the Age of Biotech was just beginning to get us into slippery-slope wetware re-designed it quickly went molecular, so that the Ick Factor became a little too abstract to alarm or nauseate the uninitiated citizen/human. But watchdogs like Andrew Kimbrell who wrote The Human Bodyshop repeatedly warned that whenever you hear the buzzword choral chambers of scientific progress, always remember to ask, ” Progress TOWARDS WHAT??!”

But such messaging don’t get much “airtime”, when the quality of applying any brakes to the fully-equipped apocalypse producers (us) comes off as a few random schoolmarm drags amidst the barrage of lip-glossed mutations and jack-boot party fetishists ( us again). It’s almost funny to look back at the links these 2 generated at the peak of their appeals for a saner world in the early nineties… reviews from Christian sites, and somewhat later those freshmen blogs from sincerely pink 15-minute seekers, who were just getting inducted into the putrid lubrication channels for high-speed late-capital infotainment.

Not to criticize anyone who attempts to give wider voice to those who would be the counterpic to the Rupert (-Murdoch-) Pupkins of the futurological stand-up and commercial hostage-taking routines ( we’ll come back to the “Pupkin Factor” later ), but even now so little assessment has been done on the meltdown of community and humanity in the technosphere. And still so few can counter the noise of the dark market to know in what surrogate forms of language they have been incubated or broiled.

Take a moment to spit out the saltwater ( of MacWorld + Las Vegas expo hype) and watch the corporate cruiseliners going down on the near horizon:

“What we did not foresee was that the technological elite had a very different solution to the inevitable and looming technological crisis [ environmental to psychological, pick your rising tide ]. Corporations, academics, and researchers came to realize, albeit slowly, that current technology is not compatible with life, that the contradictions between the technosphere and the survival of nature and society were ever heightening. They, too, saw that a solution was urgently needed.

To deal with this historic dilemma, the techno-utopians and their corporate sponsors outlined a breathtaking initiative. This initiative, however, was not to change technology so that it better fit the needs of living things, as we were so eagerly advocating. No, they had, and have, a very different and stunningly self-serving approach. They decided to engineer life, indeed reality itself, so that it better fit the technological system.

It is in this chilling context that the enormous significance of the current revolutions in technology can be fully appreciated. Here we have the key to the otherwise bewildering high-tech headlines and to much of our social malaise.

If we despair because our lives have become little more than a frenzy of meaningless “multi-tasking,” their solution is to change us so we conform with the
dehumanizing technological system, rather than change the process so that it responds to human needs. ”

Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the International Center for Technology Assessment, 2001 article for YES magazine

There goes that schoolmarm jabber again. That message ain’t got no wifi connection and can’t drop down $599 and a 2-year contract for the next new Military Entertainent Complex gadget there! How positively human and dull! And can’t even dial up that new flik by Alfonso Cuaron, Children Of Men with THAt link dude!

Speaking of which how many viewers of this cinematic blood transfusion in THat other Spectacle Container realize that, minus the madonna and child/ambiguous infertility plot, Children Of Men is the fuzziest a filmmaker has come to blurring the lines between sci-fi and the present moment… since Gattaca?

to be cont.

Still need to get back to the body-hacking tangents and Bill Joy’s comments last year (at droppingknowledge.org) about the “Ick factor” in response to a question about body/mind enhancements through technology, and the Conde Nast/Wired approach to the future: that if it smells like hip venture capitalism we’ll “pump you up” for any Atrocity Exhibition. Stay tune for progre$$ part 3.

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