Re: Science fiction and transhuman memes

Natasha Vita-More (
Thu, 08 Jul 1999 08:34:16 -0700

At 02:04 AM 7/8/99 EDT, Mac Tonnies wrote:

>Sagan's "Cosmos" turned me on to popular science writing more than any other
>single book; now I read a great deal of nonfiction on science/culture. One
>of the best I've read recently is Mark Dery's "Escape Velocity." Alex
>Heard's "Apocalypse Pretty Soon" follows a similar theme (and it's
>hilarious), though it equates cryonics and transhumanism as some form of
>misguided millennial hysteria. At least that's what I got out of Heard's
>commentary; I'm willing to forgive him, as his book is quite blatantly a
>personal take on things, and he makes no real attempt to speak on behalf of
>"reason" for all of us.

Carl Sagan has been an enormous influence on my thinking. _The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark_ is a book I refer to often. Most of my reading early on had been biographies and autobiographies and Herman Hesse, Anais Nin, Gertrude Stein, Ayn Rand, Simon de Bouvoire, Oscar Wilde, Georgia O'Keefe, etc. This gave me a foundation for life and values. Reading John Naisbitt, Alvin Toffler and FM-2030 gave me insight into the future. Knowing Timothy Leary and reading Wilson and Grujieff gave me a spin. That spin is quite integral to my thinking.

It wasn't until my 40s that I really took the time to read science fiction and fortunately I had a mentor of Max More to make suggestions to me. Interestingly enough, much of the ideas in the SF books I had already been aware of, and many of the ideas had already sprouted in my art. In fact, my art back in the 70s (video/film performances a paintings) were extremely transhumanist - dealing with evolution and the blurring of the lines of gender, space, human-machine blending.

Regarding Alex's book, speak to him directly about it. I personally didn't feel slighted in it, although I would have preferred a *different* approach. I would have preferred that he didn't link me only to cryonics and Timothy Leary as a hype, but focused on my art and extropians more deeply.


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