I am drawn always to the presence and processes of Nature, seeking each day to notice the play of the living world. Yesterday was warm and sunny, a truly ecstatic, early spring-like day. The recent warmth and sun have melted back the snowbanks, and the ice on the lake is looking a bit slushy. We can finally walk on most of the sidewalks; perhaps we have truly turned the corner on winter! Perhaps this is indeed spring!
The West has long understood Indigenous people as close to Nature, or even, as Nature. This has meant that we are seen as primitive and childlike, as resources to be ruthlessly exploited, and as obstacles to the advancement of civilization, barriers which must be removed at any cost. We are also imagined to be pristine and moral, the holders of high human consciousness, and the voices of the land. There seems little room for us to be visceral, complex people.
Indigenous people have been assigned a role that becomes more marginal with each passing decade. A good many futurists say that soon humans will no longer need, nor even notice, Nature. They believe we are on the verge of becoming a new synthesis of machine and human, a being who will live for hundreds or thousands of years and utilize Nature only as a resource. What is unsaid is that the Indigenous problem would then be solved once and for all, Indigenosity left behind once and for all.
Given that I need a variety of mechanical and electronic devices to make my way through the world, I can see that is one pathway we, collectively, might indeed choose to follow. Would we then become lifeforms unlike any previously seen on Mother Earth, the post-human? This new form might live essentially forever, have no need of, or use for, other life forms, and be able to survive in the most hostile of environments. Realms of human experience such as birth, love, sexuality, the arts, illness, and death, would become irrelevant, and be left behind along with most reminders of our animal ancestry. I cannot help but wonder whether empathy and wonder, as well as the rest of the living world, might also be sacrificed.
Individuals and cultures periodically arrive at tipping points, places where the sum of our decisions results in a commitment to one lifeway or another. These junctures are fraught with ethical and spiritual challenges that may only become obvious to the majority of people in hindsight. I find myself wondering where, exactly, one crosses the boundary between human and something else.
I am also curious as to whether the dreams we follow, and share, may largely determine which paths we take. The dream of immortality and freedom from the demands, and pleasures, of the body is an old, very powerful, meme in human history. Might it blind us to the implications of our choices? Perhaps it is time to look carefully at that dreaming, to ask whether this road leads us to a place we really want to go.
Today the temperature is forecast to rise to near 50F, meaning the sap will be running in the maple trees, birds will be in full song, and fresh rivulets of snowmelt will appear in forest, field, and lawn, slowly making their way to the lake. Perhaps we will even smell the welcome fragrance of thawing earth. It is a good day to be human and alive.
25 thoughts on “Spring and the Post-Human”
I wonder when some people will find out, that we need the nature to survive and therefore also need to take much better care of her.
I’m happy for you that the Spring shows up now, it has been a long and cold winter 😉
Irene, yes, it has been a long winter, indeed. Not over yet, although the sunlight falling through the window is warm and comforting.
Hmmmm, does make you wonder dosen’t it. Interesting juxtaposition. That’s a thinker that one. I don’t really see transhumanism being as big as they predict.
Leeby Geeby, I imagine we are at a watershed, or soon will be. I do not know how it will go, just that we need to think and pray about it.
After thinking really hard about this issue. I thought about writing an article, but then thought better of it. I actually did some research and came to the conclusion that it’s a double edged sword. But it does have a lot of profound benefits for human health and happiness as well as the doom and gloom scenarios. Some very promising research is being done for neural interfaces which can treat things like epilepsy and help bridge spinal cord damage. In a moment of Zen inspiration I came up with the following artwork.https://sharmarama.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/transhumanism/
Leeby, I’m not saying it is all bad, Heaven forbid. I am saying that it is important to note the potential pitfalls, problems made more likely by beliefs and attitudes held close by mass culture.
Should nature disappear so will man for we are the same.
Gretchen, thank you. A wise thought.
Very thought provoking!!
I’m generally pretty pessimistic about this new kinds of technology. So this was about my bias. Probably the result of too much dystopian Sci-fi as a young adult. So I decided to get with the program a little and try to find the brighter side. But I agree, the voice of caution should always be there in the back of our minds. Thank your inspiring thought on this issue. I hadn’t taken a deep enough look at it until recently.
Leeby Geeby, I depend on technology to literally survive. There was a time when I depended on an iron lung. I guess that’s why I have thought about these complex, difficult issues. I hope we will mostly get the balance right, so I write about it. LOL!
Oh yeah, love my tech. My computer has become significantly intertwined with my neurology, especially since I started to blog and build a website. But I need to be vigilant to let it enhance my reality but not replace it. Not always easy. They are just so damn convenient and useful.
Well put. i am using one right now…..
It all starts with education. If we keep our young students weeks after weeks, years after years bending over textbooks in classrooms, they won’t grow a connection to Nature. We need the older generation of bird, tree and nature lovers to take young students to the meadows, woodlands, coastal places and learn them nature appreciation just like we teach them art and music appreciation. Learning Biology from a textbook is nice, but that isn’t enough. We need to let them see how fragile and beautiful ecosystems are. By teaching them about nature, we ensure they will become great nature ambassadors.
Paula, I remember taking bio in college. When I asked the instructor whether we would cover ecology, she said no. I essentially checked out of class and spent my time exploring nature…… I still have students who do that, just fewer of them.
I would have done the same, Michael. Studying biology without the study of life being related to broad knowledge of ecology doesn’t seem attractive.
Paula, I sure learned a lot more when I bought guide books and went outside!
Indeed, preferably with somebody pointing out flowers, birds, trees and instilling a deep love for Nature.
Yes, my dad !
And mine. 🙂
That would be true, if we believed we were the only living organisms in the universe. But we’re not are we?
Shery, I strongly suspect there is life sprinkled throughout the universe.