“Big Brother: Shaping Humanity ”

For my extended research analysis, I will attempt to explore posthuman qualities in the 1932 novel, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The novel places itself in the wake of industrialization and in between the first and second world war. In an age where the concept of posthumanism did not yet exist, I will explore what makes this novel one. The novel lends itself to questioning the definition of the human and nonhuman within the scope of “new” technological advancements: eugenics, physical advancements, social conditioning, and even hypnopaedia. What is so special about this novel is despite being written in the early 20th century, it predicted numerous technological innovations that we struggle with today in terms of ethicality and practicality.

Another topic I will spend considerable amount on is the embodiment of the human. Not only will I discuss definitions, but also will discuss the limits evident in Brave New World of the human essence. However, one of my main focuses will be the government’s compliance in the making of the posthuman (em)body – a concept that has presented itself in our texts, yet has not been fully explored. Essentially, almost every novel and movie we have looked at are a result of a governmental procedure, funding, or experiment. After looking at what elements of the novel make it posthuman, I will then try to understand and delineate the government’s role as a catalyst for what societies define as human/nonhuman/posthuman and even transhuman. As a result, when looking at laws and regulations, we must understand and define the human in order to see where the government’s jurisdiction over it’s “peoples” lies, or does not lie. When we come to think of who or what is controlling how we perceive the world, the government is at the top of the list.

One of the biggest obstacles I think I’ll face in writing the essay is tying the posthuman with politics. These are such disparate areas of study with completely different approaches: one would appear to be scientific and the other a humanities methodology. However, I believe they intersect at the government – the issue will be proving this.

Another minor concern is my title. I usually reserve creating my titles to the end so this one might be a bit slack. Will definitely need some revision after the final draft.

Yonec – 11/3

In Marie De France’s Yonec, there is a moment where the lovers are found out and (at least in my version of MDF – http://users.clas.ufl.edu/jshoaf/Marie/yonec.pdf), Muldumarec says,

“My sweet love, my friend, Your love’s brought my life to its end.
I told you it would happen thus:
Your form and face have slain us”

Why those specific words? What do you think of this in the scope of the posthuman as well as Shaw’s essay? Obviously Muldumarec’s “form and face” are different than the wife’s but why does it seem hers are more egregious and therefore their downfall?

Shaw – Embodiment (11/3)

David Shaw writes “the day that we can no longer tell the difference [between bodies and AI] is the day when we can safely leave embodiment behind as a criterion for the human or posthuman”. In a way, this is the contemporary Turing Test, but how much do you agree or disagree with this statement when we look at medieval bodies that we cannot tell are human on first encounter? (Yonec’s father, the Hairy Hermit, talking Werewolf, Bisclavret)

Oryx and Crake – Sept 15

It is revealed to us that the Crakers dream (as well as sing) because Crake could not remove these things from the human essence. What does this say about Crake playing God? What does this say about the Craker’s humanity in a posthuman society? How does this fact maybe set up an image of the Craker’s future?

Oryx and Crake – Sept 13

When the Craker’s mating ritual is explained, it is also explained Crake formulated their sex acts are based on all sorts of animals (baboons, octopus, penguins, silverfish), yet Jimmy says that we would just become “hormone robots”. In a way, Crake’s creation of this sexual system is organized and does remove all the negatives that come with sex (rape, jealousy, anger, infidelity) but Jimmy asks what about the art of sex? What do you think of this organized sexual behavior and how does it play into the posthuman argument?