Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Eavesdropping = Moral Equality

I was on the train yesterday evening, coming home to my tiny Georgian Surrey firetrap, eavesdropping on the other passengers, as my iPod was drained. I quite enjoy eavesdropping, because I i; feel like a spy, ii; learn stuff about strangers. It's amazing what people will tell other people aloud on the train. Loose lips sink ships, and all that. Anyway. This was an asian man named Abdul, who had studied Forensic Science and now worked for a Pharmaceutical Company in London. He was 27, his birthday was the first of December, he knew humpty million languages because his father was a translator and thought it was important. He apparently didn't believe in working for money, but for happiness - but he was very career driven, never the less. All this I learned through him chatting up a 19 year old Polish au pair named Tasha whose birthday is, so she said, today - the 18th. Happy birthday! The age part was funny -- when he learned, there was a palpable awkward silence, and he gave a very good impression of being embarrassed. Beautiful.

This isn't the point, though. Though eavesdropping, I learned also that pharmaceutical company's have been outsourcing their human clinical trails to eastern europe, because they are more cost effective. It got me thinking, whether or not it was ethical for pharmaceutical company's to offer a financial incentive to the poor to be tested on in eastern europe? While it could help give economic sustainability to a region, could it also cause a conflict of interest between local commerce/government and the human test subjects? If the subjects were mistreated or manipulated by the pharmaceutical company, would local government have enough pushing power to fight back and get subjects what they deserve -- or, with the pharmaceutical company's economic contribution to the region, could local government be tempted to ignore the complaints of a few subjects, if it meant many others were still being paid and channeling that money into the local economy?

I was going to join a clinical trial last summer in London, but I was discouraged by family, because they are fearful souls. It would have been £4k for three weeks of my time, but alas, my dreams of escaping my ever growing student debt will have to utilise something other than medical science. While I know the incentive for me was financial -- as well as medical curiosity -- I had the luxury of knowing that I didn't totally depend on medical clinical trials as the only way of getting money. It would have been a fast and easy way, be it high risk, but much less high risk than, say, robbing a bank or selling cocaine to stock brokers.

Now there's an idea... Blah. So, I am trying to get into writing my essay. It's not working. I still only vaguely know what I am looking at for specifics, although I have about 9 books out. The question:

How liberating is the notion of the cyborg? Is the 'posthuman' a desirable future?

For me? Fuck yes. I am a cyborg already -- a transatlantic gender-nutral culturally ambiguous technophile who doesn't have to fetishise technology any longer, as it is so smoothly integrated into my being. Liberation of the cyborg will be an acceptance of miscellaneous and hybrid beings with cultural and moral autonomy. We have so much 'rubbish' DNA within our bodies, it is just there for the ride - and we very well could be nothing more than temporal vehicles for DNA -- but the notion is, we are not pure. There is no fundamental human nature in the rigid yet delicate sense that Francis Fukuyama rants and raves about. It could be that our fundamental human nature is the will to change our environments to suit us, while retaining the ability to adapt to our environments themselves. Or not. It doesn't really matter.

But as for the posthuman being a desirable future... What is desirable? To be free from suffering is a novel concept, but I think it would be most impossible -- our ability to daydream and imagine keeps us with fresh suffering all the time. But to have more freedom to choose or adapt the physical bodies we exist in while on Earth, while offering every human being the same opportunities to remove the biological constraints which we live within now, that certainly seems desirable to me.

There are pigeons in my chimney cooing wistfully. I've got to get some work done, as my chum E should be hanging out with me later. It is then that I will eat bad homemade Mexican food, and watch The Wire for the first time - and attempt to force him into conversations over what superpowers he'd have, why he insists on refusing to have a superpower, and how the answers to thrash lyrics like 'ego stroker / shit eater / self serving unreality / gutted cavity of / pixelated futility / human flesh disconnect / get the fuck off the internet' are all within the Birth of Tragedy.

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