We all read Flowers For Algernon in school. Daniel Keyes’s story of a man and his beloved mouse enhanced to genius, then reduced by the same drug to a descent into imbecility, is pathetic, horrific, and emotional. It makes an impact.
Thomas M. Disch wrote Camp Concentration in the following decade, the Seventies. In it, men are in a camp on drugs that boost their intelligence at the expense of their life-spans. They burn brightly but briefly. They’re used to crack codes and do other military mental work.
Same basic idea.
It must have been prevalent then, in the 1960s and 1970s. Certainly, performance-enhanced soldiers had been around since the 1940s, when benzedrine and dexedrine were given to SBS, SAS, and others, notably long-range bomber and spy-plane pilots. It’s even in DR. NO, the James Bond 007 movie, when Connery takes pills for a night SCUBA mission.
In the 1980s, Frederick Pohl wrote Man-Plus, about physiologically-altered people designed to survive extreme environments. Deep under the sea, in orbit, or even on Mars. His novel was straight-line Delphic extrapolation from known research. It was considered feasible, and exciting. It would open up new worlds for us to inhabit, new frontiers to explore.
Had we retained such optimism we’d be designing people to survive the changes global warming is bringing, at least survive long enough to get us out of the one-basket of Earth. A runaway greenhouse effect, as on Venus, means temperatures approaching or exceeding a thousand degrees Fahrenheit. No high life forms can survive such conditions.
Maybe machine intelligence could, but are robots a good enough answer to humanity’s plight?
Resisting despair is a key factor in all survival. Fact is, we can fight back, we can lessen, maybe reverse, the degradation and loss of our water, soil, and air. We can defy, even deny, the effects of psychopathic capitalism.
We’d have to change life-style entirely to accomplish such things.
That’s a catch most can’t see past, and our visionaries, the science fiction writers and the so-called futurists, are now producing mostly easy, cheesy dystopia to feed chronic depressives.
This sapping of will seems to be an orchestrated effect of culture war. What we might call the cancer of fascism, unfettered capitalism, the alt-right, the GOP, use what term you prefer, has gotten into the signal, degrading it from a cocky, confident competence and optimism to a shell-shocked, disaster capitalized, monitized, commodified mess of cowering despair.
Remember how ridiculed and demonized Al Gore was for his book, then movie An Inconvenient Truth, in which he discussed the calamitous effects of global warming’s exponential worsening? Big Energy could not let that message of change stick. It thwarted warnings of doom by out-spending and being louder and lying unconscionably.
Same happened, systematically, to Earth Day, barely remembered and hardly observed these days. I was there as a school kid picking up road-side trash all day, into the night, in 1970. We were fired up, proud to help, inspired not only to clean things but change wasteful habits. What had been trash-strewn roads and highways became sponsored, and more or less stayed clean. Those not old enough would not believe what a garbage dump roads were back before Earth Day 1970, the first one. We broke the general, thoughtless habit of just tossing shit out the window.
Big Energy hated that. In came the drumbeat lie: “People can’t possibly affect a system as big as Earth’s ecosphere, which is self-correcting. Any change we see is natural, nothing to do with us.” This allowed them to pull the Tobacco Company ploy of attacking arbitrary detail in order to smokescreen the larger, more obvious facts.
Remember the Natural Gas ads about how clean it was? We grew up seeing them, those of my generation. (I was born in the International Geophysical Year, I’m not a boomer, I’m an IGY.) Well, that ‘clean’ natural gas was anything but either. Fracking made it feasible. We were lied to all those years so we’d think choosing natural gas meant choosing a green energy source.
America was tanked by greed and lies. By the deceptive psychopaths, by their capitalism, we as a species enriched a handful of people while rendering mankind redundant and soon to be extinct.
Psychopaths don’t care. THEY had a good ride. That’s all that counts for them.
So we know the enemy. We weren’t in need of space aliens invading. Our true worst enemy, our Nemesis as myth warned, as Jung’s Shadow promised, was the people-shaped things among us, passing as us, predators killing us for their profit.
We understand how to identify them. We know their methods. We can trace the arc of destruction they’ve led us on for their benefit. Their contrail ends here, now, with us facing extinction, but it traces back to civilization’s founding. That was one of the con jobs, the others being politics and religion. Any of the control factors — politics, law, superstition, patriotism, all the pretending we are indoctrinated into — lead to death, to extinction, so a few can benefit from the pyramid schemes, the fake wars, the looting, and the endless lies.
Knowing all this, the best of us could analyze, discuss, and design a workable HUMAN society and system of governance. We could base it on the International Declaration of Human Rights of 1944, a document ranking with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as vital to a humane world.
If the evil greedy autocrats, martinets, bullies, thugs, depots, strongmen, and tyrants, all the dictators, all those psychopaths and malignant narcissists, if those such as the Koch Brothers or Richard Mellon Scaife or the others described so well in Dark Money by Jane Mayer — if those people-shaped predators can do it, then the best minds among us human beings can do it better to defeat their greed-based nihilism.
Join humanity and defeat the invaders.
RUN ON – Rise Up Now, Or Never.
/ Old 815
/ photograph courtesy of SLE, all rights reserved.