Botox Parties, Michael Jackson, and the Disillusioned Transhumanist

Yet when I asked a lot of “average” people — people who weren’t part of my circle — what they would do with the kind of self-transformative power that may perhaps be ours to wield, I was increasingly appalled. The jocks I talked to wanted to be bigger and stronger so they could beat the shit out of everybody else; the women wanted to morph into their ideal role models. I began to realize that what most people wanted was conformity; their “ideals” would turn us into a world of underachieving Nicole Kidmans and eight-foot Brad Pitts, identical cut-outs with no individualism.

My previous rather naive notion that biotechnology would free us from the tyranny of “normalcy,” that we could become anything we wanted, morph ourselves into elongated, blue-skinned, orange-haired, sixteen-fingered geniuses or perhaps flying ribbons of sensual bliss that performed acrobatic choreographies above the sunset, was a very utopian and, as it turns out, unpopular dream. Individuality or creative improvisation is the last thing most people want. So Botox is really a dreadful symptom of a new, radical mundanity enabled by biotechnology. And that’s disillusioning.

H+: Botox Parties, Michael Jackson, and the Disillusioned Transhumanist


  1. Bill Whitcomb

    July 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    It shouldn’t really be a surprise that *most* people want to conform. That’s what conformity is all about. Should bio-engineering get to the point where we can modify ourselves without staking our entire fortunes and literaly our lives (that is, when it’s about as hard as getting a tatoo), there will be plenty of people ready to step up for that prehensile tail or crest of feathers. …and just wait until someone figures out how to do a mod that gives someone an advantage in sport or a particular profession!

  2. I seem to be alone in seeing Michael Jackson as basically ‘undead’ for the past 25 years.

    All this bullshit about ‘transhumanism’ (and it’s gibbering cousin ‘singularity’) merely clouds what actually goes on:

    Hype something enough for rubes to buy.
    If enough rubes buy, then it becomes mainstream.
    When it’s mainstream, gullible yet educated types discuss it as some kind of ‘epoch’ or suchlike.
    ‘Market forces’ – being as narrow and deliberate they are – capitalise on the bullshit, regurgitate it, sell conformity (because that way it’s easier to keep selling the bullshit).
    The conformity, which starts out as a way of selling ideas or junk people don’t need, becomes so all-pervasive that it affects everyone until their idea of ‘normality’ becomes ever more assumed as ‘natural’. So, for example, you see women at the unemployment office with silicon tits (as I did the other day), when 30 years ago that was the kind of ‘consumer identity’ reserved for Californian weirdoes with far too much money to waste.

    It’s called ‘ideology’ in the old-fashioned Euro-humanist terms.

  3. I second that undead MJ.
    Not sure who that guy who died was,people seem to think he was some guy who made music a long time ago.
    Transhumanism is becoming a household word, hardly strikes me as out of the ordinary, neither does it seem out of line that this concept should be subject to all the things that happen when EVERYONE starts talking about it.
    Things changing? People converting novelty to cliche?
    Meh, happens every minute, always.

    I think this blogger has a pretty vapid view of transhumanism. Appearance is only one less important facet of technology’s influence on the human experience. Sense and perception of the world as well as augmentation and alteration physical/mental capacities are what I see as changing the way we as a species function. Exceeding current limitations, and at the cost of what?
    Whether or not people will act out crazy anthropomorphic fantasies seems hardly as consequential.

  4. This too, was foreseen. Fiction is full of those who willingly choose not to upgrade, plucky baseline humans that outwit the machines. Right.

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