Some Comments About The Transhumanist Project (2014)

by R.U. Sirius

One problem is the underlying philosophical assumptions that enhancement is always enhancement or is just enhancement. And I always think of Marshall McLuhan’s dictum that our extensions come with amputations.

 

 

These are some comments that I wrote in response to some questions from Peter Rothman on the h+ website in 2014

 

Transhumanism as an ism — or a belief system — is probably about the right of individuals and, possibly, the human species as a whole (or large groups therefrom) to self-enhance and to engage in an experiment in self-directed evolution, in a literal sense. In other words, not that we merely have glasses and cell phones but that we might become something other, in a biological and/or perceptual sense.

 

I don’t think it’s necessarily optimistic and I don’t think it’s necessarily rationalist, (particularly when we’re talking about people who think they’re pretty darn rational, who can only really be responded to with satire). I do think rationality and technology — stuff that actually works — are the fundamental tools for attaining an increasingly transhuman or posthuman condition. But tools are not, in and of themselves, paradigms. So individual transhumanists may feel like rationalism is a fine tool for living well but not the essential factor in actually living or even in apprehending what life is about… to the degree that can even be done, or in having social relationships.

 

My ongoing support for the idea of transhumanism is partly a rare acquiescence  to foolish consistency. I’d like to see if the project of a positive radical mutation of the human condition suggested by people like Timothy Leary can somehow win the day; whether, with the engineers and scientists in the vanguard of making it possible, we alternatively minded mutant types can pull a few aces from the bottom of the deck and actually somehow transform this pinched, mean, surveilled, existentially barren and risky 21st civilization into something that feels like liberation, generosity and heightened awareness. At this moment, the tools that could be applied to such a state of affairs are gathering, but the memetic and environmental thrusts lean towards epic failure.

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Operation Mindfuck Was Too Successful

Sartre said hell is other people. Now, hell is other people’s tweets or posts.They just irritate the crap out of all of us. The feeling is mutual.”

R.U. Sirius & Douglas Rushkoff in converation

I’m inspired by comments here from Grant Morrison and from John Shirley to share this again. It was previously posted on Medium on May 21

Sartre said hell is other people. Now, hell is other people’s tweets or posts.They just irritate the crap out of all of us. The feeling is mutual.”

On April 5, I was on Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human radio show. We agreed to get the interview transcribed for possible publication somewhere.

I’ve decided that rather than trying to edit a truncated version to pitch to more popular websites, I’m just going to keep it conversational and run it here. Maybe less people will see it, but that’s ok. I get to say what I want.

I’ve added to my own spew as I edited. We hope you enjoy.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: I came in contact with your work for the first time at a psychedelics conference in Los Angeles. Albert Hoffman and Laura Huxley [Aldous Huxley’s wife] were there. Timothy was there, and I think Ram Das and Ralph Metzner. It was the original psychedelics crowd.

And there were a bunch of issues of your first magazine, High Frontiers. And to me it was like a calling card from the future.

I was in my early 20’s, and your magazine was an amalgamation of everything that I had been interested in yet had never seen connected before: cultural, scientific, biological, cosmic, spiritual, and pharmacological advances, all in one place. How did physics and math and drugs and music and culture and transgender and cultural alchemy all end up considered part of the same strand of cultural information? How did you come up with that?

R.U. SIRIUS: In a way, it just came together in my head. I assumed that there were other people out there like me. Sort of like what Paul Krassner said about starting The Realist at the start of the ’60s. He put it out to meet the other aliens…

So this was a new generation of aliens.

And to me, the generational aspect of it was important. And the cultural aspect of it was important. Because even though I was from a generation that had a lot of hippies and deadheads and so on, we were also the people who created the cultures of punk and new wave. I was in my mid-twenties when all that came along and it was a refreshing blast to my pot-soaked mind.

So I was adapted for a very speedy, hyper, futuristic mentality by that, as well as by scientific ideas and psychedelic ideas and so forth.

And by the time we were doing High Frontiers in the mid-80s, one could clearly see the so-called digital revolution coming on, and one could be fairly optimistic about it… actually, radically over-optimistic. (laughter) So all these things just felt like the makings of a truly contemporary magazine.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: High Frontiers really ran the full gamut of hallucinatory experiences. It was a flag in the sand. Leary had said, “Find the others.” And this was saying to a new generation, “Yes, there are others. These are our experiences.”

But then, you turned it into Reality Hackers and eventually Mondo 2000. It became the voice of this 21st century post-television, designer-reality society.

R.U. SIRIUS: Yeah, the Jetsons on DMT, as Mark Dery snarkily labeled it. Read more “Operation Mindfuck Was Too Successful”