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The disassociation of the animal and the human - Elf M. Sternberg
The disassociation of the animal and the human
  • The evolved relationship human beings had with exchange ended with the first city-states.
  • The evolved relationship human beings had with knowledge ended with literacy.
  • The evolved relationship human beings had with politics ended with the printing press.
  • The evolved relationship human beings had with food ended with the railroad.
  • The evolved relationship human being had with God ended with the automobile.

Some of these are somewhat (may I say, sometimes very) controversial, but take them in order: when human beings started creating cities, they came together and created a system of exchange that was facilitated not by interpersonal trust, but by uniformly pushing that trust onto a third party, the king. Everything we'd been doing for 50,000 years stopped being meaningful; most of our transactions were abstracted outward from one person to another. Then came literacy, in which the words of the dead could continue to teach long after the original thinkers were gone, and not just because a fluke led to someone memorizing a particular song or poem. Politics was interpersonal, even in Rome, and throughout the Medieval time until the printing press; at which point, it became possible to flood the mental space between people. Food was local and weather-dependent; then came the railroads and interstate distribution, warehousing, and market pressures for preservation and industrial agriculture.

And then, God was something with whom you interacted with your neighbors and often had to reconcile with them; then came the automobile and the ability to leave your neighborhood, pick your church, the church of your bent, the church of your own ideology, and soon your need to be reconciled to your neighbors, to honor the Sermon on the Mount (or its equivalent in other faiths, and all faiths have a teaching about reconciling with one's neighbors), became less important than other, often less conciliatory, issues.

All of these issues have become more, not less, disassociated from our animal understanding of them as information has become more and more widespread, books and printing and radio and television and now the Internet provided more and more people with more knowledge (not all of it "factual," of course). The pressure is on.

So here we are, at the stage where it's becoming obvious that the evolved relationship human beings have with sex is finally, utterly coming to an end. It started, naturally, with the invention of reliable birth control where women had the say in its use. But just as the tasteless tomatoes of the grocery store have replaced the vine-ripe readiness of our gardens, artificial substitutes for partners have started to satisfice enough to make people sit up and notice. Even as we become so blase about discussing sex in public, there's a retreat that will only grow as virtual reality and robotics start to delay our sexual debuts, cripple our sexual vocabulary, and shorten our sexual impatience.

I mean, why go through all the trouble of dating, negotiating, and risking disappointment when you could always go home to your model 2021 Rebel Girl Mark IV, especially since you paid for the VR upgrade? With the contact lenses in, she can have any of a thousand starlets' faces; when you leave the office, your phone will notify her to activate. By the time you've pounded down a Soylent and your Tesla has pulled into the driveway, she'll be warm enough to convince you that you don't need anyone else.
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autopope From: autopope Date: April 3rd, 2016 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Recommended additional reading: "Blindsight" by Peter Watts, "Saturn's Children" by Some Guy.

Much dystopia, very five-fingered, wowgasm!
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