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Category Archives: Transhumanist
Posted: April 6, 2020 at 5:05 pm
Transhumanism rides roughshod over the dignity of the human person in its quest for the technologically created superman.
The sordid life of Jeffrey Epstein serves to highlight the decadence of the deplorable epoch in which we find ourselves, as do the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The web of vice and viciousness that he had spun was widespread, serving to entrap not only underage girls but also the rich and famous who preyed upon them. Using the allure of underage sex to lure his wealthy associates into his web, Epstein secretly filmed them in the act of sexually abusing minors, thereby turning his associates into his blackmail victims.
Epstein seems to have believed that the powerful people whom hed entrapped in his insurance policy would have a vested interest in keeping him safe from the law, a strategy which worked for a while. In 2008, Epstein was convicted in Florida of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, receiving a scandalously light sentence, but due to a plea deal he was not charged with sexually abusing 35 other girls whom federal officials identified as having been abused by him.
After a further 10 years in which Epstein masterminded the trafficking of young girls to satisfy the pornographic and pedophilic appetites of his powerful network of friends, he was finally charged in July of last year with the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. A month later, he was found dead in his jail cell. Although the medical examiner originally recorded the death as being a case of suicide, there are so many anomalies and mysteries surrounding the circumstances of Epsteins death that many people agree with Epsteins lawyers that the death could not have been suicide. One thing that is certain is that Epsteins death removed the possibility of pursuing criminal charges. There would be no trial, and therefore no exposing of Epsteins powerful associates by their victims in a court of law. Seen in this light, or in the shadow of this possible cover-up, it is tempting to see Epsteins insurance policy as his death warrant. He was too dangerous to be allowed to live when the lives of so many others depended on his timely death. It is no wonder that Epstein didnt kill himself has become a hugely popular meme, nor that HBO, Sony TV and Lifetime are planning to produce dramatic portrayals of Epsteins life and death.
One aspect of Epsteins life which is unlikely to be the focus of any TV drama is his obsession with transhumanism. For those who know little about this relatively recent phenomenon, transhumanism is usually defined as the movement in philosophy which advocates the transformation of humanity through the development of technologies which will re-shape humans intellectually and physiologically so that they transcend or supersede what is now considered human. At the prideful heart of this movement is a disdain for all that is authentically human and a sordid desire to replace human frailty with superhuman or transhuman strength.
Transhumanism rides roughshod over the dignity of the human person in its quest for the technologically created superman. Its spirit was encapsulated by David Bowie in the lyrics of one of his songs: Homo sapiens have outgrown their use Gotta make way for the homo superior.
Most of Epsteins so-called philanthropy was directed to the financing and promotion of transhumanism. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation pledged $30 million to Harvard University to establish the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and also bankrolled the OpenCog project which develops software designed to give rise to human-equivalent artificial general intelligence. Apart from his support for the cybernetic approach to transhumanism, Epstein was also fascinated with the possibility of creating the superman via the path of eugenics. He hoped to help in a practical way with plans to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating up to 20 women at a time at a proposed baby ranch at his compound in New Mexico. He also supported the pseudo-science of cryonics which freezes human corpses and severed heads in the hope that technological advances will eventually make it possible to resurrect the dead. He had planned to have his own head and penis preserved in this way.
In addition to his bizarre association with the wilder fringes of technological atheism, Epstein also co-organized a conference with his friend, the militant atheist Al Seckel, who is known, amongst other things, for his creation of the so-called Darwin Fish symbol, seen on bumper stickers and elsewhere, which depicts Darwins superior evolutionary fish eating the ichthys symbol or Jesus fish of the Christians. Seckel fled California after his life of deception and fraud began to catch up with him and he was found at the foot of a cliff in France having apparently fallen to his death. Nobody seems to know whether he slipped, jumped or was pushed.
Apart from his unhealthy interest in atheistic scientism, Jeffrey Epstein was also a major figure amongst the globalist elite. According to his lawyer, Gerald B. Lefcourt, he was part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative which works to force the poor countries of the world to conform to the values of the culture of death. Even more ominously, Epstein was a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two of the key institutions responsible for fostering and engineering the globalist grip on the worlds resources.
As we ponder the sordid and squalid world of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, we cant help but see his life as a cautionary tale, the moral of which is all too obvious. It shows that pride precedes a fall and that it preys on the weak and the innocent. It shows that those who think they are better than their neighbors become worse than their neighbors. It shows how Nietzsches Untermensch morphs into Hitlers Master Race and thence to the Transhuman Monster. It shows that those who admire the Superman become subhuman. It also shows that the subhuman is not bestial but demonic. It shows that those who believe that they are beyond good and evil become the most evil monsters of all.
Those of us who have been nurtured on cautionary tales such as Mary Shelleys Frankenstein or C. S. Lewiss That Hideous Strength will know that fiction often prefigures reality. We will see that the real-life figure of Jeffrey Epstein is a latter-day Viktor Frankenstein, reaping destruction with his contempt for his fellow man and his faith in the power of scientism to deliver immortality to those who serve it. We will also see that the transhumanism which Epstein financed is a mirror image of the demonic scientism of the secretive National Institute of Coordinated Experiments in Lewis prophetic novel. We will also be grimly amused by the fact that the leader of the demonic scientistic forces in Lewis tale is a severed head which has apparently been brought back to life.
And there is one final lesson that the pathetic life of Jeffrey Epstein teaches us. It shows us that the adage that the devil looks after his own is not true. It is in fact a lie told by the devil himself. The devil hates his disciples as much as he hates the disciples of Christ; once he has had his way with them, he disposes of them with callous and casual indifference, much as Jeffrey Epstein disposed of those whom he sexually abused.
This essay first appeared in Crisis Magazine and is republished with permission.
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Jeffrey Epstein and the Hideous Strength of Transhumanism - National Catholic Register
Posted: March 24, 2020 at 5:26 am
by Clark Elliston, Assistant Professer of Religion and Philosophy, Schreiner University
Friends are all-too-frequently taken for granted, both in everyday human experience and in theology. It seems that for many people friends simply emerge; a shared laugh or thought becomes many and through some unseen alchemy a friend is created. Theologically the situation is a little more delicate. The concept of friendship poses a problem for theology insofar as friendship, in both antiquity and early theology, remains largely a preferential love. We choose our friends based on any number qualities, but we nevertheless choose them. This is a good gift, but as Soren Kierkegaard makes all too plain, this can be problematic for followers of a Savior who commands a neighbor-love of all persons. A preferential love which by necessity excludes others (as no one can love the whole world equally) thus violates the universality of Christs command to love all. Yet even here there are perplexing tensions. After all, the New Testament repeatedly mentions the beloved disciple and Jesus suggests an appropriate category of friendship when he notes that the greatest love is laying ones life down for friends. Nonetheless such difficulties, as well as the embedded character of human friendship, have made it strikingly absent from much theological discourse.
Yet like so many areas of human life in a technological world, sociality too has been affected. Study after study indicates that the social life of Westerners is suffering. We are more lonely, depressed, and anxious than ever before. We also know that self-reported social encounters are perhaps the greatest source of meaning and happiness available to us. Yet this is not to say that we simply need more social encounters after all, we are in the midst of one of the greatest social revolutions in history courtesy of the Internet. Though we may seclude ourselves physically from the surrounding world, most people will have hundreds of online interactions a day. As we work harder, as traditional ties lessen, and as the allure of instant communication grows, we should not be surprised as social media opportunities increase. Yet this transition into an online context poses myriad problems. Not least is the devolution of friendship as a fundamental form of human relationship. Instead, social media technologies promise ever-greater connectivity to others while paradoxically eroding constituent elements of friendship classically considered.
Two immediate issues arise when considering the digitalization of friendship through social media. First, social media friendship lacks consideration of character and the time it takes to cultivate character. Second, social media friendship remains crucially limited in terms of its presence with the other as friend. These issues, to be sure, do not undermine the project of social media entirely meaningful encounters with others can happen on several platforms. However, social media disciplines and forms our online relationships in crucial ways. When this disciplined thinking and formation creeps into other realms of life it becomes toxic.
When Aristotle wrote one of the most influential treatises on friendship, books seven and eight of the Nicomachean Ethics, he delineated between three types of friendship. Two are immediately familiar to us: friendships based on pleasure and on utility. In these we are friends with those whom we enjoy or who provide clear benefit to our personal projects. These are inferior modes of friendship, however, relative to friendships based on virtue. The friendship of virtue, in contrast, centers upon the character of the friend. We befriend those whose character we admire and who admire us for our character. While this emphasis on virtue possesses problems of its own, it nevertheless offers insight into a crucial facet of authentic friendship, namely that friendship should involve something other than deferred self-love. Friendships of virtue rightly privilege an other for their performance of virtue, rather than our own gratified desires or pursuits.
Second, social media cannot mediate the distance between persons. If time poses an immediate issue for the cultivation of relationship, then we should not be surprised that place does as well. More specifically, friendship is centrally related to presence with and for the other. This is poignantly and pastorally put best by Nicholas Wolterstorff when he writes about the death of his son:
If you think your task as comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, its not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief, but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench (Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son, 34).
The images of proximity in this passage resonate. It is not the demonstration of either wit or wisdom which mitigates the distance between self and other, but the sheer presence of oneself alongside another in suffering. Whereas social media, as a quintessentially intellectual exercise, exists primarily in the mind, genuine friendship becomes incarnate in the concrete situations in which we find ourselves. The sympathy that undoubtedly exists in social media communities is thus closer to pity than compassion. Pity remains, while deeply sympathetic, apart from the one being pitied. I can pity someones circumstance from a distance. In contrast, and as indicated above, the practice of compassion requires that I be both present and willing to get my hands dirty. This is profoundly difficult and undermines the easy deployment of what we commonly call compassion.
Social media can be engaged wisely, and it indeed allows for convenient communication. Yet, its value lies primarily in its capacity to support already-existing friendships it is not generative of friendship. Friendship requires the patient cultivation of virtue alongside the courageous willingness to walk alongside another in their suffering. Such friendships school us for loving both God and world. Thus, Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things. (Nicomachean Ethics, VIII.i).
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Friending the World Sociality and the Transhuman Vision - Patheos
Posted: at 5:26 am
by Victoria Lorrimar
In engaging with transhumanist visions of the future, and the more general notion of human technological enhancement, from a theological perspective, a helpful starting point is the place of technology within a doctrine of creation.
Within a Christian understanding, an examination of the biblical language for creation (i.e. a word study of the Hebrew brand ytsar the first of which is reserved only for the action of God while the second is an activity that both God and humans carry out) suggests that it is appropriate to speak of humans as being genuinely creative from a theological perspective. Drawing on a metaphor of God as divine artist, we might situate human making within a theology of creation, rather than relegating it to the more distant doctrines of preservation, providence or redemption. Trevor Hart sums up this approach, arguing that viewing creation as a project divinely begun and established, yet one that is handed over to us with more to be made of it yet and inviting our responsible participation in the making, affords a fruitful perspective on the matter (Making Good, 2014: 8).
For a long time, the semantic scope of creation rejected the possibility of such parallels and served to underscore the radical otherness of God. We can chart the historical shift which saw the notion of creation extended from its previous preserve of God alone to human artistry. Creation proper may still apply solely to the work of God in certain instances, but the idea of creation more generally has expanded in scope.
In fact, we can track the understanding of human creativity as it diverges from its humble scriptural origins. The language of creativity is first ascribed to humans during the Renaissance, as the idea of art being a faithful imitation of divine creativity gave way to the idea of the artist or poet as a creator in their own right. This extends through the Romantic era and the Enlightenment period, with the result that the modern understanding of the arts is, on the one hand, more limited than its classical and mediaeval counterparts, in that earlier understandings of art encompassed human productivity more generally, but also more audacious in the claims it makes on behalf of human capacities and originality.
From the time of Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, we see this understanding of human capacities bound up in the promise of empirical science, the immense confidence in the expansion of human knowledge, the drive to master nature and the flourishing of utopian thought. This emphasis on dominion came to be enmeshed within theological understandings of creation, as creation found its way into the vocabulary used for human activities.
This does not mean, however, that it is inappropriate to speak of humans as genuinely creative. Hart, after an extensive historical analysis of the language of creation, reaches the conclusion that: at various key points in the story of Gods creative fashioning of a world fit for his own indwelling with us, divine artistry actively solicits a corresponding creaturely creativity, apart from which the project cannot and will not come to fruition (Making Good, 2014: 37).
We find similar ideas in the work of Jacques Maritain and Dorothy Sayers, who reinforce the theological significance of human making and its proper place within a doctrine of creation. Maritain describes the creativity of the artist as a development of divine creation, a work proceeding from the whole soul which bears the image of God. Though he distinguishes the creation of God (who is able to truly generate another substance through divine utterance) and human works of creating (which can only ever be signs), Maritain nevertheless grounds the dignity of art in his assertion that it realizes in act one of the fundamental aspects of the ontological likeness of our soul with God. Sayers, too, locates human creativity in our being made in the image of a triune Creator, introduced in her play The Zeal of Thy House(1937) and unpacked further in The Mind of the Maker (1941).
The challenges posed by transhumanist visions of the human future require us to develop a sufficiently robust account of theological anthropology in return. Of course, theological anthropology is a very broad category, and Ive focused on the understanding of human creativity within that. If we reflect on enhancement technologies, this prompts the question as to whether these kinds of technology are a legitimate exercise of our creativity, set within the framework of a broader doctrine of creation.
Most of the detailed theological treatments of human creativity we might turn to focus almost exclusively on the arts. If they do treat technology, they tend to have developed within the science and religion field and often are accompanied by an over-privileging of rationality and an epistemological confidence in human capability that neglects an account of fallenness and the need for discernment (here Im thinking mainly of Philip Hefners created co-creator proposal outlined most comprehensively in his 1993 work The Human Factor). In these latter discourses, even if they are moving beyond a foundationalist epistemology, the role of the imagination for understanding and discernment is often neglected.
Yet, transhumanism as a philosophy is veryimaginative. There are all kinds of synergies with science fiction that other scholars have drawn out, but (whatever we say about some of the ideologies involved) we have to admit that transhumanist visions of transcendence are captivating for many (even if not always taken seriously). If we are to engage these movements from a theological perspective then we need to meet them with equally compelling theological accounts of the future, and the good news is that Christian theology has a deep well of resources to draw on in this area.
James McClendon argued for the need to enter the tournament of narratives competing for attention within a postmodern milieu. Presented in ways that recruit the imagination (as James K. A. Smith describes the imperative for good stories in the moral arena), the visions of transcendence and glorification proclaimed so confidently in transhumanist literature are ripe for reclamation by Christian theologians, philosophers, writers and artists. We might respond with a fuller vision of the human future, a greater hope to set alongside the imaginings of transhumanists and techno-utopians. Of course, this is already a move to eschatology, but then we dont want to separate out creation and redemption as entirely independent doctrinal loci.
Whereas technology itself tends to occupy many of the classic roles of a deity in the present technological paradigm, theologians are able to expose the pretensions to self-love inherent in certain technological mindsets (as theologian Brian Brock puts it). A Christian account of hope declares that in conceiving, assessing and implementing technologies, we bear neither the burden of correctly envisioning or accomplishing redemption for ourselves nor the risk and dread of complete failure. Technology occupies its proper place within the work of a gracious God who allows creation to participate in bringing the creation toward glorious fulfilment.
By reflecting on our technological activity in the context of theological accounts of co-creation (recognising and challenging the ways in which understanding has diverged from a biblical account of creativity), and by setting imaginative portrayals of Christian hope alongside transhumanist projections, we might think of theology as entering the tournament of narratives competing for victory over the human (and non-human, an aspect often neglected by transhumanists!) future.
Electioneering on the Eve of the Virus Nathan Thornburgh and photographer Shane Carpenter were in New – Roads and Kingdoms
Posted: at 5:26 am
Nathan Thornburgh and photographer Shane Carpenter were in New Hampshire last month for their longterm reporting project on the states odd presidential primary. In hindsight, it looks more surreal than ever.
It is unnerving to look at the pictures at this moment, in this week. Photographer Shane Carpenter and I have been working on a longterm project about the New Hampshire presidential primary for four election cycles spanning 16 years, but the things Ive come to love about the campaign up therethe intimacy of retail politicking, the electricity of the big ralliesnow just trip alarms in my mind. All the handshakes. All the pressed flesh, the leaning in, the campaign buses filled with coughing staffers, the moist microphones, the communal pens at the polls. The collective spittle of a talkative, aging electorate grabbing the shoulders of talkative, aging candidates. The entire thing feels so antediluvian.
But still, this is how it was just a few weeks ago. Were at the end of New Hampshire series of The Trip Podcastthe final episode is with Zoltan Istvan, who is both a lesser-known candidate for president and an avowed transhumanist obsessed with using technology to defeat deathso it seems a good time to publish a few of Shanes photographs from our time there.
We spent some time, as we always do, getting to know the brave and occasionally delusional lesser-known candidates who pay to be on the official ballot in the hopes of stealing some votes for themselves or their cause. And there were mainstream moments, like the Mcintyre-Shaheen candidate cattle-call in the big downtown arena. That one was cathartic for Shane and me in particular; the last time we were at that arena was for Trumps final 2016 rally before the primary in New Hampshire. He used the word pussy while ad-libbing with the crowd; he booed and badgered the press as they stood in their pen. It was the kind of monster truck rally political event that has become all too familiar over the last four years. The next day, Trump won.
This year, the New Hampshire primary was held on February 11, twelve days after the first U.S. coronavirus patient had been diagnosed in Washington State. No candidate mentioned it once while we were there; no voter asked any questions about it. On Primary Day, Shane and I drove down from Dixville Notch, where we had witnessed the campy traditions of the midnight vote. The next day we left the state; I drove back to Boston and took the Acela to New York City.
Less than two weeks after that, the Biogen conference kicked off at the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston. So far, 97 confirmed cases have been reported among conference attendees, spreading throughout the U.S. and even to China.
Now the virus is everywhere, and these pictures are unnerving to look at, but somewhere in here youll see the next president of the United States (and no, Im not talking about our lesser-known candidates like self-described jailhouse lawyer Mary Maxwell, Arkansan actual lawyer Mosie Boyd, or Zoltan Istvan). And though its hard to know what the half-life of social distancing will be after this pandemic ends, I do know that many of the building blocks of the new America we get after this one has molted are in these photos. The fervor, the turnout, the radical belief in participatory democracy. Well need them all.
Staying away from public events during COVID-19 caution? Stream these shows at home – Johnson City Press (subscription)
Posted: at 5:26 am
So instead of a list of local events, the newsroom staff at Johnson City Press helped pull together a list of shows to watch on streaming services this coming week.
Shrill on Hulu: Shrill is a new Hulu comedy series starring Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live as Annie, a fat young woman who wants to change her life but not her body. Annie tries to advance her journalism career while dealing with bad boyfriends, a sick parent and an often dismissive boss. This show explores sexism, body image issues and much more.
Rebellion on Netflix:Rebellion is a five-part series that is told from the perspectives of a group of fictional characters who live through the political events of the 1916 Easter Rising. The show focuses on the revolutionaries fighting for a free Ireland, as well as those involved in the British occupation. A great show for history buffs.
Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Hulu: Fans of this cult comedy classic were displeased to see the show leave Netflix in 2017, but you can still catch the gang in action on Hulu, which recently added season 14 to its streaming service. The show, starring Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds, Charlie Day as Charlie Kelly, Rob McElhenney as Mac, Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds and Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds, follows the exploits of a group of arrogant narcissists who seem to get worse as the show continues.
Adult Swim App: For fans of alternative comedy, the free Adult Swim app can be found on your Roku device or other smart TVs. The app includes everything the channel has ever featured over the years, includingRick and Morty,The Eric Andre Show,Loiter Squad, all the hijinks ofTim and Eric, and much more. With hours of free TV shows, this app alone could kill a lot of time.
Counterpart on Amazon Prime: Counterpart, a sci-fi thriller drama starring JK Simmons, Olivia Williams and Harry Lloyd, tells the tale of a United Nations employee, played by Simmons, who discovers that the agency he works for is hiding a parallel dimension thats at war with our own. Within that parallel dimension is a top spy whos his other self.
The Expanse, an Amazon Prime original: The Expanse, starring Steven Strait, Cas Anvar and Dominique Tipper, follows a police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive as they discover a vast conspiracy that threatens Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.
Ozark on Amazon Prime:Ozark, starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and Julia Garner, follows afinancial adviser who takes his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks to work for a drug boss who he must appease through money laundering and more. Season three will come out on March 27.
Altered Carbon on Netflix: Altered Carbon, starring Anthony Mackie, Lela Loren and Simone Missick, is set in a futuristic transhumanist world in which peoples consciousnesses can be transferred into other bodies, orsleeves. This show follows a prisoner who returns to life in a new body with a chance to win his freedom by solving a murder. The show is based on Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk noir novel of the same name.
The Witcher on Netflix: Though the show has received mixed reviews from some, most have seemed to enjoyThe Witcher, an action fantasy series starringHenry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan. The show, which is set for another season, follows a mutated monster-hunter for hire in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.
Frozen 2 on Disney Plus: The musical fantasy film Frozen 2 was released early on Disney Plus on Sunday for viewers getting throughthis challenging time. This critically acclaimed animated film follows characters Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven as they leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient enchanted land to find the origin of Elsa's powers and save their kingdom in peril.
Posted: March 17, 2020 at 4:46 am
This week on The Trip podcast: Zoltan Istvan has come from the future with a message New Hampshire doesnt want to hear.
Here they are in the New Hampshire Secretary of States office, paying their thousand dollars to be on the official primary ballot. They are the lesser-known candidates, the dramatic fringe of each presidential primary election up here. And they are the stars of my quadrennial quixotic reporting project with photographer Shane Carpenter. And listen, they arent like Tom Steyer lesser-known, theyre like Vermin Supreme lesser-known, Mary Maxwell lesser-known, Zoltan Istvan lesser-known. Almost nobody knows these people, but theyre running anyway. This is the fifth primary that Shane and I have spent ducking out of mainstream campaign press events to track down the people who are just obsessive, idealistic, or imbalanced enough to think they should run for president, often with no money, no support, sometimes no platform really. Of course, the idea of a non-politician becoming president was distinctly more laughable before 2016, and now it doesnt seem that funny at all. But these candidates are something different, a wild bunch, far more entertaining and thought-provoking even than the scripted candidates. Shane and I just published a feature on the lesser-known and their radical approach to democracy on roadsandkingdoms.com; I hope youll take a look. But for now, in this episode, Ive got one of the most composed and compelling of this years fringe candidates, writer and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan. We drank some 15 year old Dalwinnie Scotch and talked about exoskeletons, being escorted at gunpoint from a megachurch, and why he let someone jam a horse syringe into his hand to give him a permanent bio-chip implant.
Here is an edited and condensed transcript from my conversation with Eva. Subscribers canlisten to the full episode here. If youre not on Luminary yet, subscribe and listen (and get a 7-day free trial) by signing uphere.
Nathan Thornburgh: What is transhumanism?
Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism is a social movement, now of many millions of people around the world, that want to use science and technology to radically transform the human body and transform the human experience. Anything from exoskeleton suits to brain implants to even driverless cars. But whatever it is, its kind of the top 10% of the most radical technologies that are affecting the human race.
Thornburgh: You say there were many millions. Are these people who would actively knowingly define themselves as transhumanists, or you think its just aligned with the way that they look at the world?
Istvan: I think there are now probably millions that would say, if you ask them are you a transhumanist, they would now say, yes I am. When you ask them, is that what they consider themselves? Thats a little bit more challenging of a question. Google, for example, is probably the most transhumanist of all the companies out there, and they have the largest, what we call life extension company, a company worth billions of dollars, that wants to overcome aging. Its specifically designed to make people essentially live indefinitely. So we are getting to a point when you can now say millions and likely tens of millions who are supporters of the idea. Chinas probably leading the transhumanist movement in terms of innovationthey have the first designer baby babies and stuff like that. So there might be even many more.
But the word is just an umbrella term for many other ideas. Cryonics, singulariatism. Cyborgism. Singularity is the concept of transhumanists where they believe that AI will become so sophisticated that our human brains wont even be able to understand its sophistication. And at that point we get left behind.
The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology.
Thornburgh: The word itself, can you just break it down for me?
Istvan: Well, the Latin would say its beyond human.
Thornburgh: Okay, got it. All of our limitations are physicalchronological aging, mortality. Those are the things that youre going to supersede through technology.
Istvan: Basically, yes. And nobodys really sure like exactly what transhumanism means in terms of the specific agenda. Is it when a primate picked up a rock and made an axe millions of years ago, or is it a robot taking over a workers job, which of course is increasingly happening. Is that transhumanism, or is it brain implants? Nobody really knows, but whatever it is and it radical science is, is sort of changing the human species and the core of it is the microprocessor. It keeps evolving exponentially and we even have things like quantum computing now happening where, you know, that could revolutionize again, the microprocessor. So anything that applies to the human being, in terms of merging us with machines, is a transhuman event.
I think whats very important is that there are various versions of transhumanism. There are socialist transhumanists, there are libertarian transients like myself, and there are transceivers party transhumanism. Of course, Im, Im the founder of the transceivers party, but Im also now running as a Republican. But Ive also run as a libertarian, Ive said openly, I might run as a Democrat in the future. For me, its about the seed of transhumanism. You can take it whichever political way you want. Theres also Christian transhumanism, theres Buddhist transhumanist. So we want a worldwide movement. I want different factions. I want a decentralized idea of it. And I hope to influence it in terms of it grows and grows and grows. Because you have to understand about 80% of the worlds population believes in an afterlife. The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology. Were fighting 80% of the population. So its very important that we coalesce together as a movement that says we need to change that 80%. We need to change their mindset. And thats really where the cultural reform comes in, and why its so important to have a huge movements like environmentalism, where the trajectory is that one day we also become a billion person movement that really wants to move beyond our cultural heritage.
Thornburgh: So lets, lets posit success and you reach those 80% and flip them into transhumanists. What will that actually mean? Does that mean that they will vote for people who pour more resources into death-defying technologies or pass laws? What, practically, would having people be fired up about transhumanism do?
Istvan: Thats the best question. The great question. Thats exactly what Im trying to do. My main goal here with running for office and my main goal of spreading transhumanism is to get more money into the hands of the scientists who are making the movement happen. You have to understand, right now our United States Congress, all 535 members, all nine Supreme Court justices, believe in an afterlife, and they say they believe in God, so they have no real reason to pass laws to put money into the hands of the scientists who want to end aging and live indefinitely and upgrade ourselves to this new bionic future. Now the problem with that is if the entire government doesnt want to give money to it, it doesnt happen. Really only private industry does it. We need an American culture on board with transhumanism.
I run for office in hopes of saying, look, instead of giant military fighting warrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, were going to take that money and put it into creating a science-industrial complex in America dedicated to ending aging and upgrading the human being. Its a very different kind of way. Im interested in American healthcare, in terms of eliminating disease. And thats a very transhuman idea that our president right now doesnt share. A president whos cut the budget of the National Institute of Health.
Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.
Thornburgh: Youre running as a Republican. This is your opponent.
Istvan: You gotta you gotta hit them hard on that. One thing Trump has done that hasnt been great is hes not only cut the budget of the National Institute of Health, but he hasnt made a culture where science really thrives. In China, its thriving. Chinas our main kind of competitor at this point. So probably within five years, China lead the world in AI and genetic editing. Its game over for America in terms of leadership, and who wants not authoritarian nation to be leading the world and in science and technology. So this is where I really fault Trump. In fact, this is why Im running. This is the singular reason Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.
Thornburgh: What is your background? Take me way back.
Istvan: My career really began after I graduated from Columbia University, and I went into journalism at National Geographic. And so for five years I traveled around the world and I wrote something like 50 or 60 articles for their website, and also was on their National Geographic Today, show, doing a lot of documentary work. It was a great time in my life. I was in my twenties, I covered a lot of conflict zones, so saw some horrifying things. In Vietnam I was covering the demilitarized zone 20, 30 years after the war. And theres a bunch of rice farmers that now dig up bombs that were dropped in Vietnam from Americans, but theyre unexploded. They sell the metal. But to get there you have to go through these landmine-infested jungles. And I almost stepped on one. It freaked me out because my guide had to throw me out of the way and pointed to the ground. And after covering war zones for a while kind of gets in your head. And it was that moment in Vietnam when I said, you know, Im going to stop being a journalist and Im going to do something to try to overcome death. And of course transhumanism has been an ongoing movement since the 90s, and thats their primary job. Their primary purpose is to use science to overcome death.
Istvan: So I came home, joined the movement, wrote a novel, the novel did really well. It was called The Transhumanist Wager, became a bestseller, and it launched my career as a public figure. And because I was a journalist, I began writing some of the very first transhumanist columns. So Ive had an ability over six years to write over 230 opinion pieces and essays for major media, almost cheerleading transhumanism. Up until that point, no one had ever been optimistic about it. People had been kind of skeptical.
Thornburgh: That literally came from a near-death experience that you had.
Istvan: Its based on two or three years of covering other conflicts. Id covered the Sri Lanka conflict. I covered the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. Id been doing some pretty harrowing stories and it made me, I think it kinda got in my head, I dont want to say its PTSD, but really it made me think, What if we could overcome death? And when it hit me that I could do this, I realized that this is why I want to dedicate my life to.
Thornburgh: Does transhumanism have any rights or rituals or holidays?
Istvan: Its secular. Its a very decentralized movement. A lot of the life-extension people are not interested in the robotics people, because life extension people want to biologically live longer, where the robotics people want to become machines and upload themselves. So even though they are both transhumanist and I like both groups, they dont really talk to each other. Then there are the biohackers, who are mostly young, tattooed people that are putting chips in. I have a chip in my hand. It opens my front door, starts a car, it sends a text message.
Thornburgh: You have this right now?
Istvan: I have it right now. You can touch it. Its right there. Push. Youll see. Youll feel a bump. Its a glass-enclosed microchip.
Thornburgh: Does that hurt when I press your chip?
Istvan: No. Its tiny. Its the size of a grain of rice. When you get these chip implants, you use a horse syringe you just put it in. Its kind of painful. But the chip itself is about the size of a grain rice.
Thornburgh: But that wasnt sexual what we just did?
Istvan: No. Its just a chip.
Thornburgh: How do you program this chip? Is this like a radio-frequency identification?
Istvan: Yeah. Unfortunately, the technology doesnt work with Apple phones, but it works with all Android. And so if you have an Android phone, you will actually be able to put it against my hand and then get my serial number. Of course, that freaks people out, because who has a serial number? But you can also put in medical information. So if youre unconscious and they find you, they can scan it. But in my case, Im a surfer and a jogger and when you go surfing you have to always hide your keys, and what a pain in the butt that is, because then someone can steal it when youre surfing and take your car. So in my case, its just great because all my keys are embedded into my hand and you can even do things like hold Bitcoin on it, but you cant pay it Starbucks yet.
Listen to the full episode at Luminary.
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Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate - Roads and Kingdoms
Posted: at 4:46 am
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a news conference in Burlington, Vt., March 11, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)Bernie Sanders isnt a relic. Hes a preview of things to come.
Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief. Joe Bidens victories on Mini Tuesday make his delegate lead all but insurmountable. Bernie Sanderss electoral weakness, compared with his performance four years ago, has dulled the fear of an incipient socialist takeover of the worlds oldest political party. The left is said to have talked itself into believing its own propaganda and helped President Trump equate Democrats with socialism. Victory in the primary did not come from pledges to eliminate private health insurance or impose wealth taxes. It followed from the perception that Biden is the candidate best able to defeat Trump.
Dont write off the socialist revival just yet. Sanders might not win the Democratic nomination. But this outcome does not mean the forces that propelled him to second-place finishes in the two most recent Democratic primaries will vanish overnight. Abandoning the intellectual fight against socialism, both inside and outside the Democratic Party, would cede the field to an increasingly sophisticated and networked band of ideological activists whose influence in media and politics is greater than their numbers. Such ambivalence could have devastating consequences for American society.
The resurgent left has pushed Biden far beyond where he stood as vice president. And a socialist infrastructure guarantees the philosophys longevity. Aspiring Democratic politicians must at least deal with, if not pay obeisance to, groups such as the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. Especially if they inhabit a deep-blue district ripe for picking by the Squad.
Fashionable, lively, radical, and controversial outlets, including Jacobin, Current Affairs, the Young Turks, Chapo Trap House, and Secular Talk, complement popular Instagram and Twitter accounts. And the New York Times magazines 1619 Project shows that the mainstream media is responsive to, and willing to participate in, the latest trends in anti-Americanism.
The most obvious reason not to dismiss the Sanders phenomenon is demographic. On Super Tuesday, Sanders won 30- to 44-year-olds by 18 points, and 18- to 29-year-olds by a staggering 43 points. He defeated Biden by nine points among Hispanic voters and by 25 points among Asian voters. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. Hispanics are second. Sanderss protege, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 30-year-old woman of Puerto Rican descent, represents this ethno-generational cohort. Their place in American life will not be denied.
Right now, socialism is unpopular. Last month, only 45 percent of adults told Gallup they would vote for a socialist for president. Last year, a 51-percent majority said socialism would be a bad thing for the United States. But Gallup also found that the number who said socialism would be a good thing had risen to 43 percent in 2019 from 25 percent in 1942. A majority of Democrats have held positive views of socialism since 2010. A willingness to adopt the socialist ideal is most pronounced among the young. A YouGov poll conducted last year for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 70 percent of Millennials are either somewhat or extremely likely to vote for a socialist.
It is the decline in institutional religion that drives the resurgence of socialism. Gallup found that church membership among U.S. adults has dropped precipitously over the last two decades, to 50 percent in 2018 from 70 percent in 1998. Why? Because the percentage of adults who profess no religious affiliation has more than doubled. It has gone to 19 percent from 8 percent. The Millennials exhibit the lowest percentage of church membership among generations. Pew says the number of Americans who identify as Christians fell more than ten points over the last decade as the number of religiously unaffiliated spiked. Here too the largest falloff was among Millennials.
Religion not only offers answers to the most powerful, definitive, and ultimate questions of human existence and purpose. It anchors individuals in a particular authoritative tradition defined by doctrinal orthodoxy and refined through multigenerational practice. People released from these bonds are capable of believing anything. Thus, socialism has returned at the same time as climate apocalypticism, transhuman and transgender ideology, anti-vaccination movements, anti-Semitism, conspiracies, and ethnonationalism. In this climate of relativism and revisionism, where the most outlandish theories are a Google search away, both Marxism and utopian socialism seem credible. Nothing is too absurd.
Irving Kristol said that it is easy to point out how silly and counterproductive and even deadly socialism has been, in so many respects, but difficult to recognize its pull as an emotional attachment. The love of equality and progress makes for a special and durable political passion. Socialism, wrote Irving Howe in 1954, is the name of our desire. In the absence of an intellectually coherent and morally compelling account of the inequalities inherent to liberal democracy, so will the desire remain.
This piece originally appeared on the Washington Free Beacon.
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The Fight against Socialism Isnt Over - National Review
Posted: at 4:46 am
Based on the 2002 novel Altered Carbon, the self-proclaimed neo-noir cyberpunk series is expanding into a tabletop roleplaying game. The Netflix show just launched its second season. Combining a healthy mix of Bladerunner, Total Recall, and Transhumanismthe setting rocks as an RPG. Apparently, the Kickstarter did too, raising over 1000% of their funding goal and hitting over 3,900 backers by the end of its run. Hunters Entertainment (Outbreak: Undead) headed up the design with an amazing team of people, so its no surprise that this Kickstarter slew expectations.
The Kickstarter page contains the vital information any prospective player could need. We still wanted to take a moment to highlight some things that are unique to a world in which you cant die. Imagine the prospects for a moment. Villains can be killed only to return later, potentially wearing the face of the partys friends. A full TPK can happen, and the adventure continues with the consequences of that folly. Or bar fights suddenly become far more bone-breaking. Not only does this concept present interesting ideas for storytelling but Altered Carbon RPG is also flipping our dice on us.
Using the Hazard system, the game encourages you to roll natural 1s. Which is frankly, glorious blasphemy. I think this gameplay difference is important to differentiate the setting and game for long term roleplaying game players. If youve been rolling D20s for a while, changing the dice mechanics on your table does work as a tangible reminder of the new world.
For as long as Ive been a storyteller; Ive often been running Cyberpunk, Transhumanism, or modern settings as long-term campaigns. I love high-tension, cheeky, dystopian conspiracy games so naturally Altered Carbon stole my interest. But every group needs one person to take up the mantle of Gamemaster. Lets take a look at how two major aspects of storytelling in a Transhuman or Cyberpunk setting in order to inspire other storytellers!
In this transhumanist world, the human mind is Digital Human Freight. Stored in a small, diamond-hard device at the base of the skull, everyone calls a cortical stack it. Some people have their brains sliced and scanned in layer-by-layer while others take a more digital approach. The end result is the same: you can re-sleeve your entire consciousness into a new body. With remote digital back-ups, needle casting your mind to other planets, or having a variety of custom bodies on handyou can become an immortal god. The ability to change bodies or sculpt your frame like an automobile is a dream for many.
Permanent death is possible for anyone whose stack is destroyed, but namely, you focus on an uplifting style of storytelling. Re: The characters backstories. Create elaborate backstories with wonderfully fleshed-out characters with full narratives by spending time with your players. The concept of a session zero is infinitely more important in settings like AC. Once created, weave those delicious backstories together into one yarn-ball of a plot. Since characters can be hundreds of years old, its okay to hop a few decades. Long-term gameplay in a transhumanist setting isnt going to be about TPKs, rather, about the parties choices around that ball of yarn. Some threads will get tugged, others will get knotted, and at least one will be hacked with a chainsaw. Meanwhile, villains at the beginning of the game can become allies later on. Only to swap sides again later. Embrace this fluidity as a storyteller.
Since the characters and NPCs will remain under the campaign spotlight for a long time, time invested into them is well spent. This also opens several new tactical options for both sides of that storyteller screen. For example, if the party knows they will resleeve they might consider one-way-ticket missions with no extraction. Nothing says a salty faction cant strike at the partys prized bar in the same way.
Cyberpunk worlds are both storytelling gold and a daunting task of finding where to start. Altered Carbon gives us a major campaign focal point called Bay City. Focused into three, easy to identify, and easy to dabble in factions: The Ground, the Twilight, and the Aerium. Poor, middle, and methuselah godlike rich respectively. Narrowing down a multi-planet cyberpunk setting to former San Francisco is exactly what gamemasters need to focus on a campaign. I couldnt be happier with the QuickStart guide for doing exactly that, and I really want to give a special shout out to the designers for making that call.
Well done chaps.
To prevent getting lost, shine a spotlight on local beats. Basically, in a setting with billions of people teeming on top of each other location bloat can be a major design problem. Its easy to fall into the pit of infinite information, and your players suffer from the noise. Cities are nearly infinite in story, filled with vast sprawling segments, and can make the PCs feel tiny. Unlike fantasy campaigns, the pulse of an urban fantasy or cyberpunk campaign beats inherently different. Less territory control or nation wars, and more investigation and fights containedjust out of sight.
Keeping everything setting wise sorted into factions or companies creates instant bonding with players. The Meths and the Grounders are easy factions to grasp onto and weave into a story. For added flair, toss in some company products and branding on your player characters weapons and youve seeded your immersion. Instead of having named NPCs, simply use faction representatives. If a pair or duo of them keeps recurring, feel free to start fleshing them out a little more. By keeping motives and goals orientated around the faction or company, you can brand it, and use that branding in the world. Plus your party will naturally start to separate the employees, from the company. Pelican Corp is an evil weapons manufacturer, but Debbie in shipping is a heckin saint.
Have you tried the Altered Carbon RPG yet? Try the Quickstart Guide here and let us know your adventure in the comments!
Featured Image: Altered Carbon The Role-Playing Game
Image Credits: Altered Carbon
Rick Heinz is a storyteller with a focus on D&D For Kids, and an overdose of LARPs, and the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn. You can follow RPG or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at [emailprotected]
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Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game - Nerdist
Posted: at 4:46 am
It is 1950 and a group of scientists are walking to lunch against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. They are about to have a conversation that will become scientific legend. The scientists are at the Los Alamos Ranch School, the site for the Manhattan Project, where each of the group has lately played their part in ushering in the atomic age.
They are laughing about a recent cartoon in the New Yorker offering an unlikely explanation for a slew of missing public trash cans across New York City. The cartoon had depicted little green men (complete with antenna and guileless smiles) having stolen the bins, assiduously unloading them from their flying saucer.
By the time the party of nuclear scientists sits down to lunch, within the mess hall of a grand log cabin, one of their number turns the conversation to matters more serious. Where, then, is everybody?, he asks. They all know that he is talking sincerely about extraterrestrials.
The question, which was posed by Enrico Fermi and is now known as Fermis Paradox, has chilling implications.
Bin-stealing UFOs notwithstanding, humanity still hasnt found any evidence of intelligent activity among the stars. Not a single feat of astro-engineering, no visible superstructures, not one space-faring empire, not even a radio transmission. It has been argued that the eerie silence from the sky above may well tell us something ominous about the future course of our own civilisation.
Such fears are ramping up. Last year, the astrophysicist Adam Frank implored an audience at Google that we see climate change and the newly baptised geological age of the Anthropocene against this cosmological backdrop. The Anthropocene refers to the effects of humanitys energy-intensive activities upon Earth. Could it be that we do not see evidence of space-faring galactic civilisations because, due to resource exhaustion and subsequent climate collapse, none of them ever get that far? If so, why should we be any different?
A few months after Franks talk, in October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes update on global warming caused a stir. It predicted a sombre future if we do not decarbonise. And in May, amid Extinction Rebellions protests, a new climate report upped the ante, warning: Human life on earth may be on the way to extinction.
Meanwhile, NASA has been publishing press releases about an asteroid set to hit New York within a month. This is, of course, a dress rehearsal: part of a stress test designed to simulate responses to such a catastrophe. NASA is obviously fairly worried by the prospect of such a disaster event such simulations are costly.
Space tech Elon Musk has also been relaying his fears about artificial intelligence to YouTube audiences of tens of millions. He and others worry that the ability for AI systems to rewrite and self-improve themselves may trigger a sudden runaway process, or intelligence explosion, that will leave us far behind an artificial superintelligence need not even be intentionally malicious in order to accidentally wipe us out.
In 2015, Musk donated to Oxfords Future of Humanity Institute, headed up by transhumanist Nick Bostrom. Nestled within the universitys medieval spires, Bostroms institute scrutinises the long-term fate of humanity and the perils we face at a truly cosmic scale, examining the risks of things such as climate, asteroids and AI. It also looks into less well-publicised issues. Universe destroying physics experiments, gamma-ray bursts, planet-consuming nanotechnology and exploding supernovae have all come under its gaze.
So it would seem that humanity is becoming more and more concerned with portents of human extinction. As a global community, we are increasingly conversant with increasingly severe futures. Something is in the air.
But this tendency is not actually exclusive to the post-atomic age: our growing concern about extinction has a history. We have been becoming more and more worried for our future for quite some time now. My PhD research tells the story of how this began. No one has yet told this story, yet I feel it is an important one for our present moment.
I wanted to find out how current projects, such as the Future of Humanity Institute, emerge as offshoots and continuations of an ongoing project of enlightenment that we first set ourselves over two centuries ago. Recalling how we first came to care for our future helps reaffirm why we should continue to care today.
In 1816, something was also in the air. It was a 100-megaton sulfate aerosol layer. Girdling the planet, it was made up of material thrown into the stratosphere by the eruption of Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, the previous year. It was one of the biggest volcanic eruptions since civilisation emerged during the Holocene.
Almost blotting out the sun, Tamboras fallout caused a global cascade of harvest collapse, mass famine, cholera outbreak and geopolitical instability. And it also provoked the first popular fictional depictions of human extinction. These came from a troupe of writers including Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley.
The group had been holidaying together in Switzerland when titanic thunderstorms, caused by Tamboras climate perturbations, trapped them inside their villa. Here they discussed humanitys long-term prospects.
Clearly inspired by these conversations and by 1816s hellish weather, Byron immediately set to work on a poem entitled Darkness. It imagines what would happen if our sun died:
I had a dream, which was not all a dreamThe bright sun was extinguishd, and the starsDid wander darkling in the eternal spaceRayless, and pathless, and the icy earthSwung blind and blackening in the moonless air
Detailing the ensuing sterilisation of our biosphere, it caused a stir. And almost 150 years later, against the backdrop of escalating Cold War tensions, the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists again called upon Byrons poem to illustrate the severity of nuclear winter.
Two years later, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (perhaps the first book on synthetic biology) refers to the potential for the lab-born monster to outbreed and exterminate Homo sapiens as a competing species. By 1826, Mary went on to publish The Last Man. This was the first full-length novel on human extinction, depicted here at the hands of pandemic pathogen.
Beyond these speculative fictions, other writers and thinkers had already discussed such threats. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in 1811, daydreamed in his private notebooks about our planet being scorched by a close comet and still rolling on cities men-less, channels riverless, five mile deep. In 1798, Mary Shelleys father, the political thinker William Godwin, queried whether our species would continue forever?
While just a few years earlier, Immanuel Kant had pessimistically proclaimed that global peace may be achieved only in the vast graveyard of the human race. He would, soon after, worry about a descendent offshoot of humanity becoming more intelligent and pushing us aside.
Earlier still, in 1754, philosopher David Hume had declared that man, equally with every animal and vegetable, will partake in extinction. Godwin noted that some of the profoundest enquirers had lately become concerned with the extinction of our species.
In 1816, against the backdrop of Tamboras glowering skies, a newspaper article drew attention to this growing murmur. It listed numerous extinction threats. From global refrigeration to rising oceans to planetary conflagration, it spotlighted the new scientific concern for human extinction. The probability of such a disaster is daily increasing, the article glibly noted. Not without chagrin, it closed by stating: Here, then, is a very rational end of the world!
Before this, we thought the universe was busy
So if people first started worrying about human extinction in the 18th century, where was the notion beforehand? There is enough apocalypse in scripture to last until judgement day, surely. But extinction has nothing to do with apocalypse. The two ideas are utterly different, even contradictory.
For a start, apocalyptic prophecies are designed to reveal the ultimate moral meaning of things. Its in the name: apocalypse means revelation. Extinction, by direct contrast, reveals precisely nothing and this is because it instead predicts the end of meaning and morality itself if there are no humans, there is nothing humanly meaningful left.
And this is precisely why extinction matters. Judgement day allows us to feel comfortable knowing that, in the end, the universe is ultimately in tune with what we call justice. Nothing was ever truly at stake. On the other hand, extinction alerts us to the fact that everything we hold dear has always been in jeopardy. In other words, everything is at stake.
Extinction was not much discussed before 1700 due to a background assumption, widespread prior to the Enlightenment, that it is the nature of the cosmos to be as full as moral value and worth as is possible. This, in turn, led people to assume that all other planets are populated with living and thinking beings exactly like us.
Although it only became a truly widely accepted fact after Copernicus and Kepler in the 16th and 17th centuries, the idea of plural worlds certainly dates back to antiquity, with intellectuals from Epicurus to Nicholas of Cusa proposing them to be inhabited with lifeforms similar to our own. And, in a cosmos that is infinitely populated with humanoid beings, such beings and their values can never fully go extinct.
A time-travelling musical comedy with lots of flying – Insane Animals arrives at HOME – Manchester Evening News
Posted: February 29, 2020 at 11:22 pm
They say there's nothing new under the sun, and this week's big opening somehow both proves and disproves the theory.
Insane Animals takes its inspiration from the Epic of Gilgamesh - an ancient poem from Mesopotamia that is widely regarded as the oldest great work of literature yet discovered.
It was written around 1800BC and deals with some pretty weighty themes, not the least of which is immortality. And given we're still talking about Gilgamesh right now, you could say he's gone some way to reaching that goal.
Insane Animals is brought to us by cult cabaret duo and leading lights of the UKs alternative performance scene Bourgeois and Maurice, otherwise known as George Heyworth and Liv Morris. As you can imagine, their work is about as a la mode as it's possible to be.
George said of the subject matter: "It just felt really current. It's a story about survival and attempting to outlive your human body. Its central character and a lot of the themes that it explores feel like they really chime with what's going on in the world at the moment and the people that are running the world at the moment, so we were kind of drawn to it for that reason."
So what can we expect? George again: "Well, we've written quite a lot in this script about things flying in, so that'll be happening.
"Just generally it's a bigger cast. It's us with a cast of eight. The music is bigger, the storytelling is much bigger, just the spectacle of the thing is much bigger.
"We've got some really exciting creatives on the show. Our director is Phillip McMahon, who has just got an amazing vision and ability to see the story.
"So we're going Gothic and we're going big and we're going camp and we're going showbiz."
Liv adds: "It is our biggest show that we have ever made. It's a musical adventure, through the telling of the story of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and looking forward to the future and the idea of some of the themes around survival and immortality that this ancient ancient poem talks about, and these ideas of future tech and transhumanism that we are talking about now.
"All with some funny rhymes and songs."
Insane Animals is an outrageous larger-than-life time-travelling musical comedy in which two hyper-glam aliens arrive from a faraway galaxy to rescue present-day earth from impending political, environmental, and social doom. This epic joyride from the dawn of civilisation to the sequinned near future sees Bourgeois and Maurice on hand to help the human race live forever.
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