C.P. Snow has been getting a lot of attention these past few years among
the digerati, the futurists, and biologists. Brockman's recent book _The
Three Cultures_ boosts the scientists as the new intellectual taking the
place of the literary (the arts). Futurists, as Naisbitt, are looking at a
meshing of the two cultures of arts and sciences, while E.O. Wilson claims
that the great divide between the humanity is not the arts and sciences but
"between the literate and illiterate."
This past month, while freelancing at a corporation, I had been in a room with eight other computer specialists and, like me, artists pulling in extra money. Having plenty of time to converse between jobs, I would often toss out a few transhuman ideas to see if any stuck. Nine out of ten, discussions about science were dismissed. Nine out of ten, science was thought of as an intruder dominating life and sticking its nose where it didn't belong. (I used my own memetic toolkit for spreading transhuman memes, and I take my own advice: do it carefully because people feel threatened.)
The long and short is that C.P. Snow wrote about artists not willing to discuss the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and scientists not able to discuss Shakespeare. The difference is that the scientist is not proud of it.
Laurie Anderson, Pop culture icon, performance artist, author, musician, recently performed "Speed of Darkness" at UCLA's Royce Hall. In this musical monolog, she covers the impact of technology while performing digital processing of keyboards, voice and violin. The performance was smooth and clean but lacking in scope. It rested on the fringes of technology alarmism and information overload. It lacked transhumanist views and extropic conceptions.
Yet, within the smooth and clean piece, she did voice an issue that is paramount to my thinking. She said that artists need to find a new profession now that everyone has Photoshop on their computers (literal and metaphor). Yet the difference in our thinking here hinges on limiting the artist to image maker, rather than creative thinker. I have been looking for that new profession for a decade now, thus my own trespassing into the scientific community, and contemplating a blending of the arts and sciences.
I recently read Gary Snyder's essay in his book _A Place In Space_ in an essay titled "The Porous World":
"When asked 'What is finally over the top of all the information chains?'
one might reply that it must be the artists and writers, because they are among the most ruthless and efficient information predators. They are light and mobile, and can swoop across the tops of all the disciplines to make off with what they take to be the best parts, and convert them into novels, mythologies, dense and esoteric essays, visuals or other arts, or poems. And who eats the artists and writers? The answer must be that they are ultimately recycled into the beginners, the students. That's were the artists and writers go, to be cheerfully nibbled and passed about."
This paragraph is raw and rich and provoking. It reminded me that yes, indeed, this is what I enjoy and this is why I learned the "skill" of "art" -- to develop a keen awareness of the times in which I live and to integrate what I value into whatever mode works best for me and to feed that synthesized and nourishable matter back into culture.
We are on the precipice of a new 3rd culture -- one that scoops up knowledge while being conscious of domain specialization and isolation thereby. As we approach discussions and debates, are we making efforts to open up and blend the skills and specializations to broaden knowledge?
It seems to me that by doing so, I can only add to my own worth both as an individual and as a participant in the culture of transhumanity.
Natasha Vita More [fka Nancie Clark]: www.natasha.cc Transhumanist Art Centre - Home of Extropic Art: www.extropic-art.com **NEW** Transhuman Culture InfoMark: www.transhuman.org PRESS RELEASE: "We are transhumans ..." Meme Orbits Saturn in 2004!
"The best defense is an aesthetic offense."