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Satire essays on drugs. Thus, we should ponder: What if the highly optimistic futurists are correct and biotechnology gives humans virtual immortality? After spending years on the planet, the combination of booze, drugs and reality television that currently makes life seem worth living is going to begin to seem bland. Even the newness of the new will begin to feel old.
After people spend a hundred or so years on genetically formulated super-anti-depressants, we predict there will be some unplanned for side effects. The urge to purchase a small caliber handgun will be uncontrollable; even members of the British labor party will feel the urge. Suicide is the future! Now is not the time to be thinking about investing in some far off culture-bubble on the moon.
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Now is the time to start investing in colorful, fully automated, digital, suicide machines. Immortality is the future, and the perfection of immortality is death by suicide. In what follows we explain why we feel satire is a fitting form of criticism when it comes to the critique of modern technological intrusions into the realms of biology and ecology. Specifically, modern entelechial satire can purify technological excess though the mechanism of mutual mortification rather than the victimization of others.
Satire is an especially useful cure for the potential excesses of biotechnology because while it rejects the most radical applications of biotechnology it has the potential to foster acceptance of more moderate iterations of this technology. Some individuals may feel the resources of satire are too feeble and indirect to create the type of moral warning needed to fend off the dangers a biotech revolution portends.
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They might imagine it more fruitful to confront biotechnological excess without the resources of comic ambivalence. One independent scholar did just that, suggesting in all earnestness that the sorts of technologies we have criticized might one day destroy our essential human nature. He wrote,. Both we and Burke present disturbing visions of the future, and unfortunately both visions are tied to technological trends already with us. For things to turn out as badly as we have predicted, current trends need only be perfected by creatures whose very symbol-use encourages us to strive for perfection.
The idea that the end of the line of current technological trends is either the destruction of nature Burke or human nature our vision is a dangerous goad. The parable of Kaczynski teaches us the danger of giving in to the certainty of these visions. Once Apocalypse seems inevitable it is difficult not to be tempted by a spirit of redemption. However, we desire to do so with a less rigid attitude; we hope to keep in mind things only seem to be beyond all hope, and we feel satire makes this attitude possible. In many cases there is no goat to scapegoat because modernity makes goats of us all.
Modern entelechial satire, on the other hand, aims at a partial rejection of excesses we all share in common with the goal of mutual mortification. Modern entelechial satire is useful because of what it accepts as well as what it rejects. In his use of satire by entelechy Burke hit upon a form of comic criticism that can point out the potentially destructive trends inherent in a given Order without promoting an equally destructive Counter-Order. We should remember the total rejection of biotechnology would entail the denunciation of things like penicillin and novacaine.
It would be tragic if we entirely halted scientific and technological research because of our trepidations about biotechnological perfection. On the other hand, it would be just as foolish not to be prepared to reject the biotechnological excesses we have satirized.
Satire by entelechy mediates these potentials by creating the possibility of acceptance in the same instant it promotes rejection. This is not a unique liability of satire, however. No form of rhetoric can do more than to promote identification and consubstantiality. The special value of modern satire by entelechy is that it can produce complex counter-statements that are unlikely to reify into Counter-Orders despite the fact people are ever on the lookout for new reasons to hate and kill one another. In his satire, Burke described the unstated rules and norms of planned obsolescence, and by applying those rules and norms to specific cultural artifacts, Burke was able to demonstrate the potential menace of seemingly logical technological trends.
We feel that technologically advanced nations are on the cusp of a new technological paradigm. Our satire began by describing a paradigm the singularity we feel is beginning to take hold in important scientific and technological circles.
This paradigm is predicated on the belief that human created technology is expanding at an exponential pace and will result in greater-than-human forms of intelligence. Biotechnology is different than previous forms of technology; it is designed to be applied directly to humans. Therefore, our satire revolved around the ways human beings might become the technological pollution that until now has only choked our planet. Despite our satiric pleadings to the contrary, we hope our predictions will not come to fruition. If biotechnologists are allowed to strive for perfection without the constraint of humility, we fear we will become our own pollution, and that is a future none of us can survive.
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William H. A Symposium to End Symposiums , ed. Walter S. Hankel [pseud. Burke described the conversation with the editor in On Human Nature Org [Originally pub. The Progressive, June ] 12 Feb.
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He has written nine books mostly about environmentalism and spirituality. Donaldson, V. Stone, C. Tran, W. Kreyling and P. Buckley, Jr. On helping the blind to see, see Naam 2. I found this essay a most remarkable piece of scholarship.
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It's the first time, I do believe, that I have laughed out loud multiple times while reading an academic treatise. Most atypical! Professor Shouse, first of all, has resurrected an important and intriquing acticle of Burke's that first appeared, I think, in The New Republic in , before the stock market crash. Do I have that date and publication correct? Burke surely had the future in sharp focus in his predictions of obsolescent excess. Great job, KB. Shouse's application of Burke's method, satirical and entelechial, makes for a faithful and relevant update.
Many of his observations and turns of phrase leap from the screen. Like this one:. The goal of the Brave New World we live in: "A human who is inhuman enough to live on a planet made uninhabitable by humans. And I do like the analogy to the merchandising of automobiles: We'll select "advanced intelligence packages, athletic-enhancement options, and super-sociability features" in our quest for ever-more-streamlined offspring.
Now, most important for us Burkoids in a general sense is what we can take away from the author's theory of satire.
It avoids, he says, the generation of a Kaczynski-style "Counter-Order" that would "enjoin the 'Cult of the Kill. Question: Does satire, modern or traditional, necessarily avoid the harsh putdowns of burlesque that effect a thorough public rejection, while making allowances for private, interpersonal comity? Shouse seems to analogize satire with burlesque, and yet equate satire, also, with "comic criticism," a Burkean discursive style that results only in slap-on-the-wrist instruction and correction, and the employment of temporary social distance, not outright rejection.
This novel consists of six. On the other hand while describing the recent developments in genetic engineering, the tone would be objective and humor or satire would be ineffective here.