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Readers vs. Breeders:
Didactical Works re De-Evolution
By Bob Lewis
More and more these days, one finds that he is asked, or perhaps even asks himself, "What's going on here?" Yes, indeed, what exactly is going on? Lunar modules dock and re-dock, shoot through inter-lunar injection, the lunar rover does burn outs on the immemorial dust of the Mare Tranquillium, nitro-methane-fueled monsters and hijacked 747's assault our ears (and other, hidden, more secret senses) with their shriekings, and , in general, we find a continuing schism between the perfection of man's machines, those stalwart servants which will enable us to achieve the Utopia and the "perfection" of those who are supposedly benefiting from their services: humanity. It often seems that in the pursuit of technological paradise, the demands of this particular evolutionary route continually force us to eliminate, deny or ignore that which makes us whole, and rather to become machines, and imperfect ones at that.
Technique: "any complex of standardized means for attaining a predetermined result which converts spontaneous and unreflective behavior into behavior that is deliberate and rationalized, and which is concerned with the immediate consequences of setting standardized devices into motion." As Jacques Ellul says, "He who maintains that he can escape technique is either a hypocrite or unconscious. The autonomy of technique forbids the man of today to choose his destiny...it is not a kind of neutral matter, with no direction, quality or structure. It is a power endowed with its own peculiar force. It refracts in its own specific sense the wills which make use of it and the ends proposed for it... The second consequence of technical autonomy is that it renders technique at once sacrilegious and sacred... men cannot live without a sense of the secret... but the invasion of technique desacrilizes the world in which man is called upon to live. For technique, nothing is sacred, there is no mystery, no taboo. Technique does not accept existence of rules outside itself... still less will it accept any judgment upon it. As a consequence, no matter where it penetrates, what it does is permitted, lawfully justified..."
The sacred is what man decides to respect. The taboo becomes compelling from a social standpoint, but there is always a factor of adoration and respect which does not derive from compulsion and fear. The mysterious (from the point of view of technique) is merely that which has not been technicized.
Technique advocates remaking entirely life and its framework, for they have been badly made. Since heredity is full of chance, technique proposes to suppress it so as to engender the kind of men necessary for its (technology's) ideal service. The creation of an ideal man will soon be a simple technological operation. It is no longer necessary to rely on the chances of the family or on the society -- or even the civilization (Jacques Ellul: The Technological Society.)
In order to escape from this labyrinthine nightmare, there must develop an awareness of both the forces and the "choices" which have led us to this point, and the choices or "courses of action" which might lead us out. As Lewis Herbert says in Towards Liberating Technology, "What is the liberatory potential of modern technology, both materially and spiritually? What tendencies, if any, are reshaping the machine for use in an organic man-oriented society?... how can the new technology and resources be used in an ecological manner, that is, to promote the balance of nature, the full lasting development of natural regions, and the creation of organic, humanistic communities?" Herbert further states that an organic mode of its inorganic components... would be as non-functional as a man deprived of his skeleton. What we seek then, is that transcendent state most fully engendered by Fred Flintstone -- technologically sophisticated cave-man.
The de-evolutionaries, devolutionaries, or Devo-tees, as it were, have developed as their basic premises the concepts of cathonic progress and of fluid catharsis. Cathonic progress is essentially the idea of going up by going down. As G. Spencer Brown says in Laws of Form, "The work of Einstein, Schrodinger and others seems to have led to the realization of an ultimate boundary of physical knowledge in the form of the media trough which we perceive. It becomes apparent that if certain facts about our common experience of perception, or what we might call the inside world, can be revealed by an extended study of the outside world, then an extended study of the inside world will reveal , in turn, the facts first met in the world outside; for what we approach, in either case, is the common boundary between them." In other words, kids, you can get to the top by heading for the bottom. When up or down, light and dark, progression and regression are viewed not as opposites, but as contraries, different manifestations of the same basic energies, then devolution becomes not only possible, but viable.
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