Resend II of Extropianism in the media
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 20:11:30 -0400

(This time I'll just pick up where the last post left off. I apologize for
the use of bandwidth.) is neither placed on a pedestal nor staked through the heart .
. . .

[I take it that the reviewer means to say that Dery treats technology
even-handedly -- not that those wacky Extropians do. To wit:]

He saves his strongest language for the "techno-transcendentalists"--those
whose "visions of a cyber-rapture are a fatal seduction, distracting us from
the devastation of nature, the unraveling of the social fabric, and the
widening chasm between the technocratic elite and the minimum-wage masses."

[I guess we've never discussed those topics in our various fora, eh?]

Belief in the cyber-Rapture constitutes, for Dery, evangelism of "a
theology of the ejector seat." For the believers in the techno-millennium,
technological acceleration has proceeded to such a point that humanity is
about to be launched into a great unknown.

* * *

Poppycock. Or as Dery more eloquently puts it: "The misguided hope that
we will be born again as bionic angels,' to quote Mondo 2000, is a deadly
misreading of the myth of learus. It pins our future to wings of wax and

* * *

Dery reserves special scorn for the true believers in cyber-salvation: "Thus,
we are drawn to the inescapable conclusion that much of what passes for
post-humanism is in fact egoism leavened with a dash of technocratic elitism,
whether it is Mondo 2000's dictatorship of the neurotariat--the shrapies,
mutants and superbrights in whom we must place our 'faith' and 'power' or the
Extropian triumph of the overman."

Nicely said, but Dery is perhaps too kind to the Mondoids and Extropians.
Are they worth the attention? As with malfunctioning computer programs, one
wonders if they even merit debugging.

[Such vitriol! The reviewer certainly does not address the substance of
Extropianism's arguments. Does Dery?]

* * *

The posthumanists are a weak straw person to counterpoint Dery's frequent
allusions to the greater societal problems being submerged by the digital
deluge. Dery would have done better to load more fully into his sights the
real target--Wired-style techno-positivity. It isn't as sexy, and it long
ago lost its subcultural cachet, but as far as social reality is concerned,
Wired's aestheticizing of techno-politics is the real "Mechagodzilla."

[I jibe, "A spectre is haunting this book reviewer: The spectre of dynamic
optimism." Seriously, though, if you find this hack's review dismaying you
should keep in mind that the market place for ideas can work slowly.
Consider that the Communist Manifesto originally issued in 1848 -- long,
long before its tenets had real impact.]

* * *

T.O. Morrow