Oct 14 2011

Is Stiff Academia Killing Mental Evolution?

""){ ?> By Rachel Haywire


One thing I have noticed about the Transhumanist community is that there is a division between the academic crowd and the consciousness expansion crowd. Previous Transhumanist movements have battled on idealistic grounds for the notion of what Transhumanism was really about. Was it the hard scientific outlook with the academic credentials and PowerPoints or was it the consciousness expansion outlook with the mind altering psychedelics and technological revolution? Was the hard academic current stopping the freethinking cyberpunk current from being viewed as Transhuman and was the freethinking cyberpunk current stopping the hard academic current from being taken seriously?

I used to say that the stiff academics were killing mental evolution and I completely sided with the freethinking cyberpunk current. Yet I have recently come to the realization that both currents of Transhumanism are equally important. As freethinking cyberpunks we need hard academics to build a sustainable movement or we will simply come off like a bunch of techno-hippies.

I do, however, wish to address a part of academia that has been upsetting me for a while. I’m talking about the anti-philosophy part which states that philosophy is irrelevant to Transhumanism because we now have technology. The “why have discussions on philosophy when we can build new machines?” people. They are the ones who are killing mental evolution because they dismiss philosophical discourse on the future as all talk and no action.

The last time I checked it appeared that philosophical discourse was required for action to exist in the first place. Would we be able to build new machines if we didn’t philosophize about technology? Why would we want to live in a society of robot builders if we couldn’t even theorize about what we were building? All talk and no action is a definite waste of time but all action and no talk is a cold society devoid of free thought and revolution. I feel that we need a mixture of both. We need the talk and we need the action. We need the techno-hippies who have just discovered LSD and Robert Anton Wilson to throw the raves and we need the MIT graduates to advance genetic research and throw the conferences. We need each and every person in this movement.

Transhumanism has split off into a bunch of different currents and in 2011 this has reached a level so meta-meta-meta that there are at least 30 different groups on Facebook for different currents of Transhumanism. Recently someone in the Singularity Network group asked a question to the effect of “why was I just added to 15 different Transhumanist groups?” Can we blame the hard academic elite or can we blame the petty infighting that every movement inevitably has to deal with? Should we be placing any blame in the first place or should we be embracing the splintering off of so many new movements?

In the end, I believe every MIT graduate was once a freethinking cyberpunk or — at the very least — they embraced these ideals in their youth. I also believe that every freethinking cyberpunk would benefit from a more academic education so they could turn their visions into realities via technology and scientific theory. The only thing killing mental evolution is the idea that ideas are no longer important because … “Hey! Check out those robots over there… and stop talking.”

  • By Jericho Jones, October 23, 2011 @ 4:05 am

    1992 called and left a message for you. It wants its cyberpunk bullshit back.

  • By 1992, October 23, 2011 @ 5:33 am

    With his increasing exposure to technology and science fiction, Billy Idol decided to base his upcoming album on the cyberpunk genre, and quickly set about educating himself in Cyberdelic counter culture.[2] Idol saw the convergence of affordable technology with the music industry and anticipated its impact on a new era for DIY punk music. “It’s 1993,” Idol said during a New York Times interview. “I better wake up and be part of it. I’m sitting there, a 1977 punk watching Courtney Love talk about punk, watching Nirvana talk about punk, and this is my reply.”[11]
    Gareth Branwyn (left) and Mark Frauenfelder (right) were two consultants from the cyberdelic print culture tapped by Idol for consultation.

    Reading Mondo 2000 and Gareth Branwyn’s 1992 manifesto, “Is There A Cyberpunk Movement?”, Idol resolved to base an opening sequence on Branwyn’s essay, contacting the writer for permission. He also read Branwyn’s Beyond Cyberpunk! HyperCard stack, a collection of essays based on fanzines, political tracts, conspiracy theories, and which referred to itself as “a do-it-yourself guide to the future.” Idol proceeded to consult with various writers familiar with the computer related magazines, such as Mondo 2000, and bOING bOING. Idol also hosted a “cyber-meeting” attended by the likes of Timothy Leary, famed counterculture guru; Jaime Levy, author of books published on disks under the “Electronic Hollywood” imprint; R. U. Sirius, co-founder of Mondo 2000; and Brett Leonard, director of The Lawnmower Man.[5]

    Asked by Idol about how he could become further involved in cyberculture, Branwyn and Mark Frauenfelder advised him to investigate The WELL, one of the oldest online communities.[9] Idol did so, discussing the album project online with WELL users, and creating a personal e-mail account which he released on printed advertisements for the upcoming album, so that fans could communicate with him.

  • By Rebel Yell, October 23, 2011 @ 5:40 am

    As we get set to address a new millennium, science and technology are becoming the new weapons of change, and who better to arm you for the future battle than BILLY IDOL.

    Cyberpunk press release, Chrysalis Records.

    In 1995, when writer Jack Boulware asked “When did cyberpunk die?” at a meeting of former staff members of Mondo 2000, a response was “1993. The release of the Billy Idol record.”

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