Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Facts have a literal bias.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 21, 2016
We think of facts as found not made, but facts are made to be found and, once found, made to be foundational.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 21, 2016
Facts are suborned things.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 21, 2016
Fetishes are the figures we take to yield false facts.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 22, 2016
Facts are the figures we have fetishized to yield truths.
(The last handful of tweets have been my pre-game warm-up to prepare for my return to the Rhetoric Department this week for fall teaching.)— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 22, 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Saturday, August 20, 2016
1 One of the many annoying argumentative tics in futurological discourse is the one I tend to think of as The Utopium Conceit…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
2 in which a diversity of qualified lab results are reduced into A Single Thing -- some phenomenon, material, technique, imagined device --— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
3 that is applied in turn to Everything, and invested with a profitable and prophetic force That! Will! Change! Everything!— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
4 It can be, say, plastic, carbon nanotubes, fungus (as eco-remediator, building material, vegetarian foodstuff, terraforming agent)...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
5 or nuclear fission, car culture, digital computation and simulation, Drexler's imaginary "nanotechnology" or its gawky cousin 3D-printing.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
6 It's easy to see the appeal of The Utopium Conceit. Reduction of qualified, diverse dynamisms into one thing then deliriously amplified...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
7 First, this futurological conceit accommodates the real but fraught and complex promise of technoscientific change for common good…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
8 …to wealth concentration and status quo amplification by marketing it for parochial short-term profit-taking; and— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
9 Second, it accommodates the real but fraught and complex demands of technoscientific change for public deliberation…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
10 …to mass technoscientific illiteracy through facile simplifications and recourse to drama (whether wish-fulfilling or disasterbatory).— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
11 Note, in connection with such misinformation, how a minimization or outright disavowal of historical, political, cultural contingencies…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
12 …shaping, regulating, and distributing technoscientific progress usually enables The Utopium Conceit as futurological strategy.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
13 It is of course precisely because collective problem-solving through technoscientific discovery can be so inspiring and promising…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
14…that futurology's deceptive simplifications of slow and difficult struggles, hyperbolic and hence deranging distortion of results…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
15 appeal to irrational passions (greed paranoia), skewing of budgetary priorities, denigration of political contexts of progressive change…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
16 should be abhorred by all those who would be genuine champions of science education, research, fact-based harm-reduction public policy…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
17 and progressive struggles to distribute costs, risks & benefits of technoscience change equitably to the diversity of their stakeholders.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 20, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016
He begins by quoting from the recent post, then goes down memory lane a bit:
Dale,Democracy's definitive insistence on accountable authority. . . is. . . misunderstood. . . by [those]. . who mis*identify* state forms with a violence that precedes and exceeds them. . .
You wrote, more than 7 years ago,
Look, people, we know all this already. The Moral Majority was never a majority. Multiculturalists won the culture wars. . . America is becoming day by day by day an ever more diverse, secular, urban, pragmatic, convivial multiculture. Please make a note of it, get used to it, and act accordingly.That may be true (particularly trend-wise), but unfortunately it seems that **most** of the folks in this country who are officially charged with pointing and discharging the state-sanctioned puff-bangs[*] against targets both domestic and foreign, puff-bangs ranging in size from hand-guns all the way up to nukes -- i.e., the cops and the military, are anything but "convivial multiculturalists".
(via http://amormundi.blogspot.com/2009/03/america-is-diverse-secular-urban.html )
As always, Jim's a good no-nonsense critic with a finely honed bullshit-detector, and with a dauntingly good memory! I replied:
"My point about those who mis-identify the state with violence was directed at anarchists. I am far from denying the vulnerability of law and policing to violence, abuse, and organized exploitation. I just think there is nothing anarchists add to such critiques that liberalism hasn't understood for centuries at this point, and that by focusing their ire at the state itself as the indispensable site of the most organized violence they fail to grasp that the state is also the indispensable site of the most organized non-violence.
"Nor am I unaware nor would I diminish the fact that there are bigots and dangerous characters in the military and in our police forces. How could anyone fail to grasp the reality of that problem at this point?
"But the visibility of abuses and the wide circulation of long-understood reform proposals to ameliorate these abuses are going to turn the tide. De-militarization of the police, community policing models, representative policing, continued de-patriarchization of the military (women and queers rising in the armed forces, recognition of and crackdowns on rape culture, etc.), ending the drug war, getting commonsense gun safety regulations, banning military style weapons and private arsenals, eliminating for-profit prisons, shifting budgetary priorities from jails to education and housing... all of this is in the wind now.
"Far from seeing a worsening here, I am hopeful. In part, demographic diversification and secularizing is the driver here (and of backlash-formations needless to say, as well) but the phenomenon I addressed years back in my posts about winning the culture wars is also connected to this. I still think I was right and think with every passing year the evidence and the resulting force of the American left's victories in the Culture Wars are more palpable.
"Of course, assholes will always be among us and assholes will asshole in their variously catastrophic ways. I just see this as a more hopeful than dreadful story. At any rate, it is something where there is work to be done where the work can make a difference for the better, and that is all anyone can really ask for. New problems will raise their ugly heads soon enough. Environmental racism and climate disruption is a big and growing worry for our remaining years, but the Archie Bunkers with guns are dying off into a more or less manageable marginality in the diversifying, secularizing, planetizing REAL Real America."
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
Democracy, Civitas, and the Rite To Have Rights; Or, Why I Will Not Relinquish Democratization To The Tech-Talkers Or Other Fauxvolutionaries
1 In skirmishes with libertopians and libertechians so often I end up exclaiming: "I don't want to smash the state but to democratize it!"— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
2 I want to say more about democratization, not only because it is instructive to recall and clarify how *demos* and *civitas* connect…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
3 but because "democratization" appears to be yet another word being evacuated of sense in the promotional mill of futurological tech-talk.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
4 Just as "open" has come to mean empty, "free" precarious, "disruption" deregulation, "innovation" PR-repackaging…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
5 "acceleration" status-quo amplification, "risk" privileged upward failure, "bigotry" culture fit, "resilience" exploitability…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
6 so, too, "democratization" is being peddled by tech-talkers as what amounts to inequitable, unaccountable provision of services for fees.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
7 I'm simply not ready to relinquish what seems to me the indispensable idea and experience of democratization to tech's "Thought Leaders."— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
8 Hannah Arendt wrote of a "right to have rights" preceding all others, and insisted it was uniquely threatened by statelessness…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
9 and hence arises not from *humanitas* (whether species-being, social parochialism, or reason's endowment) but *civitas.*— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
10 I prefer to phrase her key insight a matter of "RITES to have rights," as ritual, citational, performative materializations of rights...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
11 in public assemblies, in critical deliberations, in collaborative problem-solving, in historical struggles, in legislative reforms.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
12 In Cicero, the rule of law, the righteous practice of rhetoric (good people, speaking well), and the powers and responsibilities…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
13 of a contingent rights culture together materially body forth a *res publica*, or public thing, publicity, in which we struggle…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
14 at once at flourishing world-making and flourishing self-making. (NB I'm being overgenerous with Cicero and will be in what follows too.)— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
15 In the Preamble to the US Constitution, the "more perfect Union" (saved and transformed in Lincoln's Emancipatory second founding)— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
16 …connected the establishment of justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare in the American *res publica*.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
17 In the New Deal and via the Four Freedoms FDR repudiated the naturalization of the status quo qua "negative" neutral liberty…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
18 reaffirmed and re-elaborated the connection of general welfare to the American conception of justice, prosperity, and security.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
19 The Kennedy/Johnson "Great Society" insisted American democracy's ethical universalism is one of equity-in-diversity.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
20 The twice winning, still rising Obama coalition in a diversifying, secularizing, planetizing America is pushing back the reactionary…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
21 patriarchal (sexist, heterosexist, cissexist) white-nationalism of Movement Republicanism with its Southern Strategy and Culture Wars.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
22 Who knows if the election of HRC will be the improbable moment that deadly fever breaks at last, in Obama's prophetic phrase…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
23 …and America takes up in earnest the promise of the Great Society with a liberal Court, more public investments, more progressive taxes…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
24 …and turns to planetary problems of catastrophic climate change, wealth concentration, violence against women, and weapons proliferation.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
25 Facts of slavery, genocide, segregation & police violence as domestic terror, militarized markets, rape culture, environmental injustice…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
26 give the lie to any congratulatory litany of American democratization, suggests that the fearful fever of reaction never really breaks…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
27 and impel "good people, speaking/doing well" to greater clarity & effort as we face the inequity and heartbreak of slow-motion history.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
28 Richard Rorty described democracy as "the idea that people should all have a say in the public decisions that affect them."— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
29 In my understanding of his notion, this included decisions about who we are, what a say is, who is affected, and what the public is.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
30 On this understanding, democracy is not an ideal *eidos* of "full" or "direct" participation against which we measure our failures…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
31 but ongoing struggles and experiments in which (ever more) people (more) exert their say over (more of) what affects them in public.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
32 The democratic or democratizing state stages a civic publicity in which these struggles and experiments are sustained and play out.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
33 I am progressive because I am committed to democratic values of sustainability, equity, and diversity…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
34 none of which have been realized and all of which require progressive education, agitation, organization, legislation. ***But…***— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
35 I'm a democrat first (I mean little d here tho I'm big D too given pragmatic realities) and democratic interminability troubles progress:— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
36 Progress is always progress for whom? progress toward what end? -- while democracy pluralizes whos and proliferates ends.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
37 Democratization's ever greater say for ever greater numbers seems at the least to commit the democratic project to nonviolence:— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
38 Democracy's definitive insistence on accountable authority (periodic elections, trial by jury, yoking taxation to representation, etc),— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
39 its definitive insistence on public investment in the ritual artifice of equitable recourse to the rule of law and robust rights culture,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
40 and its ongoing securing of a legible scene of informed, nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday commerce for all people...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
41 all connect democratization and nonviolence, democratic *civitas* to Beloved Community, radical democracy with Revolutions of Conscience.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
42 chronicled in the Preamble's general welfare, the Emancipatory Union, the New Deal's positive liberty and ongoing GreatSociety struggles:— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
43 It is also emphatically misunderstood and threatened by libertopian/libertechian re-framings of the state as for-fee service provider.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
44 It is no less misunderstood by anarchists "left" & right who mis*identify* state forms with a violence that precedes and exceeds them...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
45 ...and pine for righteous or prosperous spontaneisms that amount to parochialism or acquiescence to injustices they formally disdain...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
46 not so different in practical result from privileged fauxvolutionaries indulging in Purity Cabaret disdaining partisan political reforms.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
47 Be all that as it may, the democratic investment in nonviolence vouchsafed by facilitation of transitions of power by election…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
48 by the maintenance of nonviolent alternatives for the adjudication of disputes by equal recourse to the law…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
49 and by consent secured by welfare (as against vacuous contractarian consent duressed by misinformation, precarity, insecurity)…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
50 remains interminable to the extent that nonviolent democratic contestation includes contests over what constitutes violence & democracy.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
51 This is the constitutive paradox of the democratic imaginary and I am a democrat because it is seems to me a productive paradox.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
52 It seems to me errors, denials & disavowals of these admittedly fraught, paradoxical connections are shared by my critical interlocutors…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
53 whether anarchists "left" or right, reactionary tech-talkers, or fauxvolutionaries indulging in silly campaign season Purity Cabaret.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 15, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016
Also, every futurologist.
From E. Alex Jung's great Vulture interview with Emmy-nominated RuPaul:
What do you think about what's going on with Donald Trump and the Republican Party?
When you break it down, this is about mankind moving forward and the people who are resisting that forward movement. When a butterfly makes a metamorphosis from being a caterpillar, there's a violent exchange between caterpillar and butterfly. And what we're witnessing is this violent exchange and a rejection of the movement forward. It's so uncanny, and it's so clear that that's what's happening, even as it relates to what's happening around the world, with these horrible tragedies. There are people who are rejecting the forward motion of mankind. And they don't want to be present for what's happening because they don't want to change, because change would mean they'd actually have to look at themselves and go, "Who am I? What am I? And how do I relate to this world?"
What do you think about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats?
[Laughs.] I fucking love them. I have always loved them. And let me just say this: If you're a politician — not just in Washington but in business and industry, you have to be a politician — there are a lot of things that you have to do that you're not proud of. There are a lot of compromises you have to make because it means that you can get this other thing over here. And if you think that you can go to fucking Washington and be rainbows and butterflies the whole time, you're living in a fucking fantasy world. So now, having said that, think about what a female has to do with that: All of those compromises, all of that shit, double it by ten. And you get to understand who this woman is and how powerful, persuasive, brilliant, and resilient she is. Any female executive, anybody who has been put to the side -- women, blacks, gays -- for them to succeed in a white-male-dominated culture is an act of brilliance. Of resilience, of grit, of everything you can imagine. So, what do I think of Hillary? I think she's fucking awesome. Is she in bed with Wall Street? Goddammit, I should hope so! You've got to dance with the devil. So which of the horrible people do you want? That's more of the question. Do you want a pompous braggart who doesn't know anything about diplomacy? Or do you want a badass bitch who knows how to get shit done? That's really the question.
How would you describe your political ideology?
I'm a realist. Drag says, "This is all bullshit." Drag says, "You're playing a role, and I'm here to remind you: Don't get it twisted. I'm not buying it. I understand what's really real, and what's really hood, and I'm living my life that way." I see politics the same way. Everybody's playing a role. And don't try to make me believe that you are what you say you are. I can see behind that mask.
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. -- Oscar Wilde
There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender... gender is performatively constituted by the very expresssions that are said to be its results. -- Judith Butler
I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you. -- Janet Mock
1 I must say it is quite odd and rather dispiriting when skeptics who scoff at mystic crystal revelations or priestly promises of heaven...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
2 nonetheless credulously enthuse over transhumanist eugenic superman, singularitarian robot gods, and techno-immortalist info-soul uploads.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
3 Re-stage the flim-flammery in techno-transcendental fetishes of code, robots, surgical self-help and skeptics get their asses in the pews.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016
The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. -- William Gibson
1 That the future is here but not evenly distributed, in Gibson's famous phrase, seems to me both profoundly true but also misconstrued.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
2 First, it reminds us that the substance of "the future" and of the futurity it disavows exists in the present, opening onto next-presents.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
3 Second, it alerts us that an uneven distribution of potential, of risk, of enjoyment is not incidental but essential to "the future":— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
4 "The Future" is when the privileged have always enjoyed their privileges, such as they are, and for them it has always already arrived.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
5 Paradoxically, "The Future" is a dwelling place for incumbent-elites, the summit from which they survey the accumulating ruin of the past,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
6 and it is to be noted how often predictions and transformations declaimed from that summit amount to plans for status quo amplification,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
7 offering up reassurance, consolation, and self-congratulation to elite-incumbency peddled as progress, change, disruption, novelty, risk.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
8 Futurity is the quality of openness -- political power qua potentia -- inhering in the plurality of stakeholders who share the world,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
9 Like "The Future," the substance of futurity exists in the present, in the lived presence of a diversity of world-sharers, each of us...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
10 ...testifying to different hopes and histories, soliciting different constituencies to different ends.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
11 It is futurity that is disavowed in the funhouse mirror projections and moralizing parochialisms and instrumentalities of "The Future."— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
I added a few more points after sleeping on this twitter-essaylet:12 "The Future" is an reactionary repudiation of the *political power* of open futurity for instrumentalizing and moralizing counterfeits.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
13 Added, and at the risk of belaboring my point: Gibson's aphorism is often misquoted by appending a "yet" at its end,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
14 literalizing what is, I think, a common implicit misreading that renders it an exhortation to progress or, worse…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
15 an expression of a futurological faith that "The Future" will one day be evenly distributed (New and Improved, just you wait).— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
16 But I read Gibson's aphorism as an observation and as a warning: "uneven distribution" "here" is indispensable to "The Future."— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
17 This is because, I would say, the struggle for sustainable equity-in-diversity is indispensably a matter of political struggles,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
18 while "The Future" forecloses the open futurity and publicity in which the struggles of the political (and the rhetorical) are staged.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
19 (Added, I'm teaching a class next Spring, "For Futurity" which I am thinking through at the moment, so the topic is very much on my mind,— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
20 especially the puzzle of reconciling my decades-long anti-futurist critique with the inspirational provocations of Afro-Futurism.)— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 11, 2016
As usual, these observations turn out to owe rather more to Hannah Arendt than they do to William Gibson, but the provocation of the turn of phrase is his for good.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
ADDED (From the Moot to this post): The trigger for the posted observation was a headline that flitted by my twitter stream, "Should you trust a robot to decide who should live or die?" or something like that... and although the article was congenially skeptical and critical blah blah blah it seems to me the framing invests robots with agency/responsibility in a way that displaces the indispensable focus of critique away from the people who are responsible for the threats and problems at hand. It is only apparently critical when tech talkers take a break from the usual promotional/self-promotional aria of infantile wish-fulfillment fantasizing about robot gods solving all our problems for us to make a "faux balanced" disasterbatory gesture instead... on the other hand...! concerning bad robots or ubergoo robocalypse or whatever. Both positions occupy the hyperbolic space uniquely nurturing of futurological nonsense while distracting attention from... actual things actual computation actually does and the actual people who fund, code, maintain, own, use these actual things in problematic ways. Arguing with techno-transcendentalists hardened me against such rhetorical tactics, but it is interesting to observe the way mainstream corporate-military tech-talkers who might very well find transhumanists as hilarious as we do nonetheless replicate so many of the go-to strategies of hardcore robocultic interlocutors of yore...
Monday, August 08, 2016
Hey if it's [he refers to profiling] good enough for the CIA, then surely it's good enough for public thrashing out for the sake of an informed electorate. We can only hope that idiosyncratic and poorly-supporter outliers, like Shkreli's (non-psychological) "diagnosis" of Hillary Clinton will be subject to the critical scrutiny and skepticism they deserve. That's all you can do, in the public forum of ideas. Declaring the whole subject "out of bounds", and shutting it down in the name of politeness, or "political correctness", or ideological squeamishness, isn't going to make the world a better place, IMHO. The risks of putting a madman into a position of power are too great, don't you think?
As I said at the beginning, Trump is demonstrably and repeatedly deceitful, reckless, bigoted and uninformed. I think the risks of putting a serially lying, intemperate, bigoted ignoramus into a position of power are too great. I don't see how anything is gained by non-experts "diagnosing" him from a distance as a "madman." ...I've indulged in this sort of thing here over the years all too often, I've called the GOP and the Robot Cult "crazytown" and "batshit crazy" and all the rest more times than I care to recall for all the good it did my arguments against them.
... Well, I myself have never, as far as I can recall, used the word "crazy". I prefer to use the precise clinical categories, and only when I really think they're applicable (rather than as a form of rhetorical hyperbole). ...
Fair enough. As I said from the beginning, I have been convinced by reading and hearing from folks who have diagnosed conditions that the many stereotypes and errors circulating about mental illness and disability make glib recourse to the topic in discussing public figures contributes to their precarity. I guess I see why this seems like "political correctness" since it is about treating vulnerable people as actually real and their concerns as actually shared by us all, but it also seems one could frame this as an effort at straightforward correctness.
By the way, I am not too keen on the popular mythology of "profiling" as criminological typologies of The Criminal Mind... which seems to me to justify rather reactionary monsterization of menacing criminals as crime rates descend and is often stratified by racist and sexist prejudices that enable and rationalize police abuses. This is not a topic on which I am an expert, though, and it seems there are people of good will who focus on lots of competing facets of these practices.
Again, I do think there are moral judgments to be made about character in our politicians and in the upbringing of children and so on... I just think they should not masquerade as scientific or clinical diagnoses when they are not made by those with the credentials and context to offer them up. When it comes to the pathologization of public figures by non-experts who don't have relevant personal knowledge, I certainly have not "shut it down" or declared the topic "out of bounds" ...I have simply expressed some of the criticism and skepticism we both agree arguments should be subject to when they are offered up to public scrutiny. As I said, this is a practice I have long engaged in myself and have come to see as erroneous and damaging to vulnerable people who are already dealing with enough, so I hope any undue harshness will be seen as directed by me toward myself. I don't mean to seem disrespectful or judgmental about it.
I guess we'll have to "agree to disagree" -- I doubt if either of us is going to change the other's point of view. As I mentioned earlier, though,the toothpaste is completely out of the tube on this (just search "narcissistic" or "borderline" on Google or YouTube). You may deplore this; I think it's a **good thing**, for people who need to know what the hell is going on with the difficult people they have to deal with
Well, clearly part of our dispute is the question whether amateur diagnoses of actually unknown celebrities helps anyone know "what the hell is going on" as a matter of fact -- and there are good reasons to think this enables some to abuse vulnerable people they think of as "difficult" when in fact that may simply be different in ways that should not matter or are better dealt with through good manners and a professional HR department in an organized workplace. But the topic is complex, no question.
This is actually a facet of a bigger issue -- the "democratization" of what, until the Web came into existence, were "professional secrets".
In terms of "toothpaste out of the tube" I agree this is a different and important issue. I personally think the democratization of expertise should be about making access to training and credentialization equitable and then assuring the exercise of expert authority is accountable rather than insulated from consequence. I think the wikileakification of resistance discourse overgeneralizes secrecy as the problem of power -- a view consistent with anarchist attitudes and principles actually avowed by many of the participants and admirers of these Anonymous-to-Assange would-be insurgents. I don't want to seem to deny the importance of anti-secrecy -- black budgets are unconstitutional for a reason (though few seem to care in practice) and proprietary knowledge production in the academy has facilitated its demolition (ditto) -- but just as I don't want to smash the state but to democratize it, I do not wish to smash expertise but make it accessible and accountable. I'm such a square.
Current discussions of the homogenization of public spaces via social media remind me of the paradox of artificial intelligence discourse: 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 8, 2016
We mistake Turing-capability as investments of artifice with intelligence when AI-mediation truly renders humans artificially imbecillent, 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 8, 2016
So too serially-failed promises of same-as/better-than VR now play out in socially mediated "augmented" reality of homogenized non-places. 3— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 8, 2016
Sunday, August 07, 2016
Yesterday one of my long-standing fears was confirmed: futurists are considered moral authorities... [A]n article entitled "Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies" ...described a new Microsoft product that is meant to be used at large events like the Superbowl, or a Trump rally, to discern “anger, contempt, fear, disgust, happiness, neutral, sadness or surprise” in the crowd. Spokesperson Kathryn Stack, when asked whether the tool could be used to identify dissidents or protesters, responded as follows: “I think that would be a question for a futurist, not a technologist.” Can we parse that a bit?. . . I’d like to point out that futurism is male dominated, almost entirely white, and almost entirely consists of Silicon Valley nerds. They spend their time arguing about the exact timing and nature of the singularity, whether we’ll live forever in bliss or we’ll live forever under the control of rampant and hostile AI. In particular, there’s no reason to imagine that they are well-versed in the history or in the rights of protesters or of political struggle.Yeah, I read that piece when links to it deliriously proliferated on my twitter feed yesterday. Definitely I agree with her point about the profound staleness, paleness and maleness of the "discipline" of futurism. That's a point I used to hammer quite a bit here, years back, a critique that eventually condensed into the hard diamond of an aphorism: "The futurists have seen The Future... and it is a white penis." But apart from that important point, I would reiterate once again that futurism is best understood as a public relations and marketing genre masquerading as a kind of policy analysis or even analytic philosophy and that this, too, makes it utterly inapt as a source of guidance in public or personal deliberation. One might as well be guided by late-nite infomercials or televangelist scams. And I mean that analogy more literally than many people seem to realize. For the reasons why, and for the most concise but fully elaborated version of my critique of reactionary futurology, let me recommend, as usual, the piece published in Existenz: Posthuman Terrains and Futurological Discourses or, if your tastes run more to the polemical, either The Unbearable Stasis of Accelerating Change or An Open Letter to the Robot Cultists.
Setting all that aside, I would add that there are interlocking causes and contexts for the disastrous investment of the futurological with scientific and ethical authority when futurism is a pseudo-scientific moralism deserving nothing but rejection and ridicule. This is just a quick sketch, but among these contexts are: first, a general American anti-intellectualism coupled with privileged insulation that has fed serial dysfunctions of this kind throughout US history; second, the bankruptcy of Anglo-American analytic philosophy as a paradigm (futurology is in many ways the zombie apocalypse of that paradigm, I hear in "less wrong" and "existential-risk" the grunts of a discourse too dull to discern its death) after the eclipse of pragmatism and given the endless know-nothing reactionary assaults against the "postmodern relativism" and "politically correct multiculturalism" of continental thought; third, the breakdown of the academy as a source of reliable expertise in the grip of the neoliberal pincer attack of an ongoing looting, digitization, precarization of public higher education and the treatment of the profitably disinformational think-tank archipelago as an intellectually equivalent force to that embattled academy; fourth, the emergence of pseudo-disciplinary spaces like "bioethics" and "design" (and yes, "future studies" in their many variations, among these, if I may say so, too often "digital humanities") that rationalize tech sector abuses while pretending to autonomy from them, and so on.
ADDED: By the way, when I bemoan the looting and dismantlement of the academy this is not to say that I am unaware of or indifferent to the fact that the academy has never been an equitable or innocent space -- far from it. The academy has never been but should be a source of reliable and clearly communicated knowledge to help guide public deliberation over our shared problems as well as a space of intellectual exploration and provocation available to every interested citizen as well as an ongoing experimental space for practical, creative, critical conviviality, ramifying hopes, histories, strategies outward into our diverse secular republic and distressed planet. Such an Idea of the University remains urgently necessary even though it has never been realized and the ongoing demolition of the academy renders that realization ever more distant and tenuous. That is all that I am saying. The authority attaching to the deceptive and hyberbolic PR narratives of corporate-military futurism is just a symptom of the reactionary toppling of the ivory tower. Making debt-free higher education available to all, making knowledge production arising from the academy freely available to all, connecting intellectual life to worldly concerns and the academy to the community of which it is a part, protecting free inquiry and expressivity in the academy from the pressures, prejudices and parochialisms of elites, incumbents, and fashions would not just topple the ivory tower into a ruin but transform it into a beacon.
Saturday, August 06, 2016
ADDED: It is also curious to observe those who grasp and affirm the force of this point as it pertains now in the context of the general election alternative of Clinton against Trump, but who did and do not grasp its pertinence in the context of the alternative, during the primary contest, of Clinton against Sanders.Curious, the de-professionalization via celebritization of presidential contests as at once the executive concentrates and imperializes.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
To the extent that a presidential campaign is a public job interview rather than an occasion for fandoms to exhibit and enjoy the enthusiasms of membership, it seemed to me that Clinton was as obviously the better choice over Sanders as she is over Trump. As a democratic eco-socialist feminist anti-racist queer I always had quite a bit in common with the subculture of Bernie enthusiasts. Not to open old wounds, but I will admit that what seemed to me the too slow investment of his class politics with an intersectional critique of a kind that has to be foregrounded in any American-relevant class analysis, coupled with the campaign's early and ongoing dismissal of Obama coalition voters in the South, and then the abusive non-representative but noisy minority of racist, sexist brosocialists his campaign did little to discipline undermined my feelings of solidarity considerably, whatever our shared radicalism otherwise.
But for me the larger point is that I have simply never been particularly interested in treating the primary campaign as a symbolic space to harangue people about ideal outcomes and indulge in purity cabaret. (Admittedly, as a college lecturer by profession who teaches critical, political, and cultural theory to an audience greater and more abiding than I manage to reach in my online efforts I have a very real space in which to lecture and engage people about ideal outcomes, which is rare and very lucky for me.)
I view the presidential primary as a vetting of candidates mostly as a professional matter, to gauge their personal knowledge, flexibility, incisiveness, and thoughtfulness under pressure and in their more well-considered published positions as well as the fitness, diversity, reach, and pragmatic effectiveness of their campaigns as organizations. I don't think there is much of a contest on any of these grounds now -- nor then. HRC is politically to my right by all appearances, a bit more so than Bernie was but less so than her monsterologists and his sanctifiers would have it.
Be that as it may, HRC is a Democrat on the partisan left -- whatever my disagreements with and worries about her -- and to the extent that partisan reform politics and real-time stakeholder problem-solving politics are indispensable if inadequate to the work of progress toward sustainable equity-in-diversity, then HRC's elevation to the presidency (an actually-existing Constitutionally defined position in real governance whether you approve of it or not) is to be appreciated and her qualifications over her actually-available rivals to the position seem to me pretty obvious.
But... let's say your political focus is a larger or more radical one for which HRC remains a disturbing symptom. Let's say you have concerns about the ongoing anti-democratizing militarization of public life. Or let's say that you are worried about the ongoing consolidation of the unitary executive in the context of legislative dysfunction in the context of general partisan/geographic polarization in the context of the eclipse of white-racist patriarchal extractive-industrialism in the context of a diversifying, secularizing, planetizing America.
As it happens, I completely share such concerns. I've been writing about them here, not to mention discussing them in classrooms, for years. Nevertheless, I regard as incoherent at best and frivolous at worst the choice to express such concerns, let alone to pretend to do work to address them, primarily or even entirely through ineffectual and symbolic "presidential" politics, rather than educating and agitating to change understanding and laws at a local level while at once organizing for better representatives at the state and congressional levels.
The unitary executive won't be dismantled by the executive, especially so long as congressional obstructionism and dysfunction leaves fewer and fewer avenues available for functional governance but those smuggled through the war-making powers of the commander-in-chief wreathed in the terrifying mass-mediated glory of celebrity qua pater patria.
Similarly, the military-industrial complex won't be dismantled so long as war is profitable and Defense remains the primary space in which an assertively "market-based" economy stealthily does its economic planning. It sure would be nice if our congress-critters would actually take their responsibilities for war declarations and budgets seriously as presently they obviously do not, refusing even public debates and hence on-record stands on by-now generationally-ongoing and amplifying and ramifying military conflicts -- though the record is pretty dismal all around, it is worth noting that the Clinton's vice-presidential nominee has taken public stands on this issue -- and in the long term it is pretty obvious that it will be Congress and not the President who rectifies the dangerous unbalance in the separation of powers in a time of wars without end. As far as the executive is concerned, given the work of the cabinet, it seems that supplementation of belligerent military threats and actions with multilateral diplomacy and diversion of military spending into green investment to subsidize a green economy are both ways to aid in the likely multi-generational work to dis-inter democracy from the military-industrial complex.
Not to be unkind, but none of this involves the ineffectual tantrums (zOMG Impeach Obama!) in the face of real crimes and atrocities nor wish-fulfillment fantasies (Look, a "World Peace" Birdie!) of total spontaneous dis-invention or domestication of the armed services scarcely more realistic than levitating the Pentagon via meditation (much as I might approve of that gesture as a form of performance art or might enjoy participating in it as a form of partying) that pass too often for presidential politics.
It is worth noting that the Obama administration and HRC's tenure as Secretary of State engaged explicitly in both of these very efforts -- very imperfectly, convulsively, in the context of complex historical vicissitudes, making all the while many mistakes and committing what seem to me unacceptable and even criminal acts against civilians -- that is what HRC's "Smart Power" and "Green Superpower" rhetoric are all about, and they should be recognized and welcomed as such even as we remain enormously aware and critical about their implementation -- a criticism that should recognize the contexts at home and around the world pressuring, often beyond recognition, these efforts at implementation.
Again, I share such concerns but I insist that we recognize how long-term and compromised their effective address will be as a matter of fact. And since Americans are all beneficiaries of imperial war crimes and ongoing exploitation of manufactured precarity (from slavery to Native American genocide to the Monroe Doctrine to Pacific colonization to world war to military-backed globalization to "Tech"s digi-financial fraud and managed climate catastrophism) the fraught complexity and infuriating pace of this necessary address means that we are and will remain complicit in horrors hard to square with a sense of self we can live with -- and this in turn will invite denialisms that amount to complacent acquiescence to evil and ineffectual perfectionisms that amount to pre-emptive surrender to evil. It is not enough to see clearly what is wrong, one has to do something about what is wrong with the tools at hand and the tools that can be made, for as long as it actually takes to do it, however hard it is, however heartbreaking.
Whether or not you approve some notion of revolutionary politics as the right level to pitch collective efforts to make historical change adequate to our shared problems, it should not be that difficult to recognize that anybody calling a presidential election, let alone a primary contest over a party presidential nomination, a "Revolution" is peddling embarrassing nonsense. To fall for a revolutionary marketing of partisan politics is hard to distinguish from falling for a revolutionary marketing of a soft drink or handheld app: It is a recipe for disappointments accumulating into disaster.
Don't choose a political candidate so you can wear a tee shirt that makes you feel like you are the Revolution, choose a political candidate who can do the job on offer in a way that is most compatible with your values and understanding in the context of the limits of partisan governance such as they are. And if your values and understanding cannot be compassed within the present limits of partisan governance, then do not confine your politics to making choices constrained by those limits, supplement (and I do say supplement, not substitute, because that which is inadequate may still be indispensable) those politics with education, agitation, organization, expression to change the terrain of the possible and important in which legislation plays out. Let partisan politics do the work that partisan politics can do, participate in partisan politics to facilitate its best work... and then do more.
1 To disqualify Trump as a racist, sexist, reckless, authoritarian ignoramus a critic need only quote him or run the tape.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
2 But to disqualify him as "crazy" critics smear him with stereotypes the recourse to which harms vulnerable people who aren't Trump.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
3 I'm certainly not happy about the sexist pathologizations of HRC that substitute for deliberation about her fitness for the presidency...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
4 ...but recognition and resistance to this pathologization demands its consistent application.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
ADDED: None of this is to deny that Trump (or me, for that matter) is clinically diagnosable nor that were he so diagnosed this would be relevant to his professional qualification for the presidency (that would depend on the diagnosis), but only to notice that nobody diagnosing Trump to disqualify him has, as far as I can see, both the qualifications and the therapeutic context to be doing so. Also, I do think that there are character, temperament, and moral standard tests for the presidency that are actually being expressed through some of these pathologizations and I may agree with the substance of those assessments were they translated back into terms of character, temperament, and moral standards. It is hard to say because the discourse of pathologization itself muddied the assessments, even while the scientificity and clinical neutrality of the form of the discourse is deployed precisely to produce an aura of clarity and objectivity where contestation and subjectivity are palpably in play. One thing that is clear is that there are lots of people living with diagnosed conditions who are widely misunderstood and vulnerable to mistreatment and it is easy to see how they are hurt by a national dialogue ridiculing Donald Trump as a crazy man when it should be quite enough to point out instead that he is a bigoted, belligerent, bullying, breathtakingly ignorant man incapable of doing the difficult job he is applying for and in fact actively disdainful of most of the people in whose name he would be doing that job.
5 I see now I've long been too glib allowing figures of pathology to carry weight in my polemics and analyses of political life: It's wrong.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) August 6, 2016
Friday, August 05, 2016
Thursday, August 04, 2016
I must say one of my favorite futurological genres -- it usually fancies itself deeply Philosophical (you can feel the capital letter) or, you know, "bioethical" -- consists of some extended wish-fulfillment fantasizing but prefaced by stern and Very Serious admonitions of the form: "many think that having magical powers, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, or eternal youth would be terrible, but I bravely insist these daydreams would be awesome." These brave slayings of "naysaying" dragons do a kind of meta-marketing double-duty: investing the corrupt, sclerotic, fraudulent, unsustainable, predatory for-profit status quo with avid emancipatory fire while at once investing the compulsorily cheerful, drearily dull day-dreamer with the presumably daring, can-do, go-getterific zeal of the champion of our age, the entrepreneurial innovator and/or Thought Leader, that stale, pale, male exemplar of upward fail. Needless to say, this daring adolescent onanistic PR exercise is usually coupled with a selective skimming from some highly qualified and incompletely understood research result which is thereupon amplified beyond recognition, re-narrativized as a stepping along the road to some techno-transcendental aspiration, and then slapped with a prediction (cheap sustainable superabundance, cures to all diseases including "aging as a disease," artificial super-intelligence, total control of matter) with an arrival-time snugly close-enough-to-tap-into-greed too-distant-to-demand-accountability, say, In! Twenty! Years! Although this entirely content-free advertorial ritual offers up zero scientific merit, policy substance, theoretical insight, pedagogical clarity, or progressive change to point out any of these dimensions of the scam is to invite charges of negativity, luddism, post-modern relativism, political correctness or, hilariously enough, hostility to science.
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
The landscape of this piece is populated with figures from b-science fiction flicks and disintegrating paperbacks glimpsed in fragments by insomniacs staring at screens and reading in bathtubs: vampires, clone armies, mad scientists, time travelers, dream assassins... The whole hellish hallucination, a snapshot of the American cultural imaginary deployed as a wrench in the works, is a triptych: It begins with a condemnation of capitalism as a pyramid of pyramid schemes rationalizing evil predation (there are vampires everywhere in this section), goes on to declare that the paranoid defense of a false and facile notion of coherent selfhood drives the possessiveness that enables this predation and fraud (clones throng this section), and concludes by proposing an embrace of open futurity against parochial PR projections of the future that foreclose empathy and possibility (time and space travelers take the stage here).
This concluding proposal -- which Burroughs identifies with an embrace of "the magical universe" in which beliefs are permanently susceptible to refiguration and warranted not only by the powers they can confer of prediction and control but by the ways in which they can be invested with meaning, beauty, solidarity otherwise -- is close kin with Nietzsche's proposal of philosophical truth-telling as an affirmation that resists ressentiment, just as the deconstruction of self in the second part of the piece aligns with the moral project of the Freudian unconscious, just as the jeremiad against selfish exploitation with which the piece begins (and which is excerpted below) is nicely illustrative of themes in Marx. I assign this piece in my undergraduate Critical Theory survey course both at the San Francisco Art Institute and at UC Berkeley -- a course which makes the argument that Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud are three threshold figures taking us from the philosophical life of the mind and its contemptus mundi to the post-philosophical project of critical theory in which, in the Marxian phrase, "the point is to change it."
I think I have read and taught this piece by now something like thirty or forty times and I think it one of Burroughs' great aesthetic accomplishments. It is so short that I usually begin my lecture by simply reading the story like some demented grandfather in an armchair at a sick child's bedside. It takes about fifteen minutes or so. In my lecture I regularly go on to pair it with excerpts from another short piece by Burroughs "On Coincidence," which provides helpful elaborations on its themes, and of course poses new perplexities too. Both pieces are anthologized in a collection called The Adding Machine. It surely goes without saying, but I will add that there is much more happening in the piece than I have mentioned, including quite a lot of mischief designed to nudge some readers into a state somewhere between paranoia and serendipity while cruelly reading for filth those who cannot accompany him on the journey.
Anyway, I also think the piece gets to something profoundly true and profoundly hilarious about the evil, if one is inclined to put it that way, of Peter Thiel and the current brouhaha over plutocratic parasitic blood transfusion as a route to techno-immortality. Long-time readers of the blog know, of course, that I have been ridiculing and rampaging against the anti-democratic robocultic Thiel for years. Those who are interested should click on "The Superlative Summary" on the sidebar and scroll down to the entry "Peter Thiel" for a taste of what I mean (the aftertaste, I warn you, is highly unpleasant).
"To me the only success, the only greatness, is immortality." -- James Dean, quoted in James Dean: The Mutant King, by David Dalton
The colonel beams at the crowd . . . pomaded, manicured, he wears the satisfied expression of one who has just sold the widow a fraudulent peach orchard. "Folks, we're here to sell the only thing worth selling or worth buying and that's immortality. Now here is the simplest solution and well on the way. Just replace the worn - out parts and keep the old heap on the road indefinitely.
"As transplant techniques are perfected and refined, the age -- old dream of immortality is now within the grasp of mankind. But who is to decide out of a million applicants for the same heart? There simply aren't enough parts to go around. You need the job lot once a year to save 20 percent, folks. Big executives use a heart a month just as regular as clockwork. Warlords, paying off their soldiers in livers and kidneys and genitals, depopulate whole a reas. Vast hospital cities cover the land; the air -- conditioned hospital palaces of the rich radiate out to field hospitals and open -- air operating booths.
The poor are rising in mobs. They are attacking government warehouses where the precious parts are stored. Everyone who can afford it has dogs and guards to protect himself from roving bands of parts hunters, like the dreaded Wild Doctors, who operate on each other after the battle, cutting the warm quivering parts from the dead and dying. Cut-and-grab me n dart out of doorways and hack out a kidney with a few expert strokes of their four-inch scalpels. People have lost all shame. Here's a man who sold his daughter's last kidney to buy himself a new groin -- appears on TV to appeal for funds to buy little Sally an artificial kidney and give her this last Christmas. On his arm is a curvaceous blond known apparently as Bubbles. She calls him Long John; now isn't that cute?
A flourishing black market in parts grows up i n the gutted cities devastated by parts riots. In terrible slums, scenes from Brueghel and Bosch are reenacted; misshapen masses of rotten scar tissue crawling with maggots supported on crutches and cans, in wheel-chairs and carts. Brutal-as-butchers practitioners operate without anesthetic in open-air booths surrounded by their bloody knives and saws.
The poor wait in parts lines for diseased genitals, a cancerous lung, a cirrhotic liver. They crawl towards the operating booths holding forth nameless thin gs in bottles that they think are usable parts. Shameless swindlers who buy up operating garbage in job lots prey on the unwary.
And here is Mr. Rich Parts. He is three hundred years old. He is still subject to accidental death, and the mere thought of it throws him into paroxysms of idiot terror. For days he cowers in his bunker, two hundred feet down in solid rock, food for fifty years. A trip from one city to another requires months of sifting and checking computerized plans and alternate routes to avoid the possibility of an accident. His idiotic cowardice knows no bounds. There he sits, looking like a Chimu vase with a thick layer of smooth purple scar tissue. Encased as he is in this armor, his movements are slow and hydraulic. It takes him ten minute s to sit down. This layer gets thicker and thicker right down to the bone -- the doctors have to operate with power tools. So we leave Mr. Rich Parts and the picturesque parts people their monument, a mountain of scar tissue.
As L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology, said: "The rightest right a man could be would be to live infinitely wrong." I wrote "wrong" for "long" and the slip is significant -- for the means by which immortality is realized in science fiction, which will so on be science fact, are indeed infinitely wrong, the wrongest wrong a man can be, vampiric or worse.
Improved transplant techniques open the question whether the ego itself could be transplanted from one body to another, and the further question as to exactly where this entity resides. Here is Mr. Hart, a trillionaire dedicated to his personal immortality. Where is this thing called Mr. Hart? Precisely where, in the human nervous system, does this ugly death-sucking, death-dealing, death - fearing thing res ide? Science gives only a tentative answer: the "ego" seems to be located in the midbrain at the top of the head. "Well," he thinks, "couldn't we just scoop it out of a healthy youth, throw his in the garbage where it belongs, and slide in MEEEEEEEE?" So h e starts looking for a brain surgeon, a "scrambled egg" man, and he wants the best. When it comes to a short - order job old Doc Zeit is tops. He can switch eggs in an alley.
Mr. Hart embodies the competitive, acquisitive, success-minded spirit that formula ted American capitalism. The logical extension of this ugly spirit is criminal. Success is its own justification. He who succeeds deserves to succeed; he is RIGHT. The operation is a success. The doctors have discreetly withdrawn. When a man wakes up in a beautiful new body, he can flip out. It wouldn't pay to be a witness. Mr. Hart stands up and stretches luxuriously in his new body. He runs his hands over the lean young muscle where his potbelly used to be. All that remains of the donor is a blob of gray matter in a dish. Mr. Hart puts his hands on his hips and leans over the blob.
"And how wrong can you be? DEAD."
He spits on it and he spits ugly.
The final convulsions of a universe based on quantitative factors, like money, junk, and time, would seem to be at hand. The time approaches when no amount of money will buy anything and time itself will run out.
This is a parable of vampirism gone berserk. But all vampiric blueprints for immortality are wrong not only from the ethical standpoint. They are ultimately unworkable. In Space Vampires Colin Wilson speaks of benign vampires. Take a little, leave a little. But they always take more than they leave by the basic nature of the vampire process of inconspicuous but inexorable consumption. The vampire converts quality -- live blood, vitality, youth, talent -- into quantity -- food and time for himself. He perpetrates the most basic betrayal of the spirit, reducing all human dreams to his shit. And that's the wrongest wrong a man can be................