layer hidden off the screen
UCSB English Department Home UCSB English Department Home UCSB English Department Home
The Posthuman
ENGL 165EC - Spring 2003,  Rita Raley
Thu, 4/24 Michael Jackson's Face: Race & the Posthuman

Bruce Sterling, "Swarm"

"'You are a young race and lay great stock by your own cleverness,' Swarm said. 'As usual, you fail to see that intelligence is not a survival trait... This urge to expand, to explore, to develop, is just what will make you extinct. You naively suppose that you can continue to feed your curiosity indefinitely. It is an old story, pursued by countless races before you. Within a thousand years -- perhaps a little longer -- your species will vanish... Knowledge is power! Do you suppose that fragile little form of yours.. can contain all that power! Certainly not! Already our race is flying to pieces under the impact of your own expertise. The original human form is becoming obsolete.'"

Some Themes

- Passing and performance
- Modification & becoming monster (MJ)
- Eugenics vs. Genetic Engineering: in vitro screening vs. artificial chromosomes; treatment for dis/ease vs. enhancement

Links for Discussion
  • Primo 3M+ Diagram ("More comfort, better performance, lower price")
  • Primo 3M+ - "Smart Skin" ("sS") ("The smart Skin of the future will be a multi-functional design coalescing safety and survival, sensation and texture, beauty and elegance, fluidity and mobility, and terraced layers of what we know as the "self". The smart skin of the future will function as an exterior protection and interior multi-function; it will combine artificial and natural design options; fuzzy membrane, both natural and synthetic; a sensorial surface; and ultimately square the curve of design.")
  • Primo 3M+ - Smell

Excerpt from Natasha Vita-More, Primo "smart Skin": "The evolution of sweat glands and skin pigmentation suggests that early humans had few sweat glands causing our ancestors, perhaps the Homo ergaster of 1.7 million years ago, to evolve with a better cooling system. In that the humans with more sweat glands could forage better in the sun, the better chance of having healthy offspring. "A million years of natural selection later, each human has about 2 million sweat glands spread across his or her body." Simultaneously, due to the mobility of our ancestors, melanization took place which increased the thickness of melanocytes in the epidermis and caused the skin to darken to protect the skin from radiation. "Scientists long assumed that humans evolved melanin, the main determinant of skin color, to absorb or disperse ultraviolet light." Over these millions of years our genes stumbled upon unpredicted changes that effected the human body with an intended design purpose—to adapt to the world and to survive.

In these next decades we will see the emerging of the transhuman (the transition from being biological human beings to the altered biological and genetic makeup of the posthuman) who will engage more readily with technology, smart computers, nanotechnology and robotics—all to protect and extend life.

The engineering of skin and our DNA will affect the human species. While transhumans are considered humans who have adaptive and augmented body parts that are not developed through natural selection of biological mutation, they will be still Homo sapiens and share the same genetic coding for skin, however modified and improved."


Click to format the
page for projection.
Click to return to the
default page view.