post

Are You A Man or a Mouse?

SmartMouse

A More Human Mouse

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently spliced the human gene associated with language into the brains of a mouse.  While the rodents didn’t say anything about the experiment, they were better able to find chocolate in a maze then regular mice.  This is perhaps another example of science mimicking science fiction.  In H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau an evil doctor attempts to humanize wild animals through surgery and psychological conditioning.  The animals rebel, overturning the pseudo society that the doctor tried to create.  The MIT mice are docile so far, lacking the drama of Dr. Moreau, or Planet of The Apes.

The joining of human and animal isn’t shocking for many aboriginal Americans; for them the animals see themselves as human,

Wari girl and friend

Wari girl and friend

just with a different form.  For example the Wari’ of Brazil know a jaguar kills its prey with tooth and claw, and eats it raw.  But for the jaguar, or rather, from the jaguar’s point of view, he kills his prey with arrows like the Wari’ do; he takes the prey home, gives it to his wife and tells her to cook it.  While jaguars look like cats to the Wari’, in the eyes of the jaguar humans look like pigs, like prey.

It’s not good to be a pig or a mouse when a jaguar is hunting.

A Mouse is Always Prey

jackal

more honorable than ISIS

There’s of course another group of people, over thirty thousand strong by current estimates, who simply erase the boundaries between human and animal behavior.  The members of ISIS, while retaining human form, are more like predatory scavengers.  According to Franz Kafka,  jackals are disgusted by Arabs.  Certainly, the jaguar bringing a meal home to his wife is more noble than the humans who chain a little girl to a fence.  Even a jackal is above that.

The blending of species through grafting of human genes into mice has the potential to advance our understanding of memory, cognitive flexibility, and the evolution of the brain.  The blending of species by the predatory behavior of ISIS scavengers has the potential to reverse centuries of human social, intellectual and moral development.  The Island of Doctor Moreau is a happy children’s tale by comparison.

under arrest

Syrian girl and foe

ISIS thus challenges the civilized world to respond: does it meekly acquiesce to the rape and enslavement of women, the torture and beheading of children?  Or does it act boldly to eradicate such savage, inhuman beings?  Will Western civilization behave as a man or a mouse?  It’s dangerous to be a mouse when jaguars, jackals, or ISIS supporters are on the prowl.

 

Your comments are welcome
post

Angels of Jihad, Angels of Apathy

Muselmann- at the edge of becoming angels

Muselmann; original art by Esti Mayer

Electricity has made angels of us all…  Unlike print, TV doesn’t transport bits of classified information.  Instead it transports the viewer.  It takes his spirit on a trip, an instant trip.  On live shows, it takes his spirit to real events in progress.

But here a contradiction occurs: though TV may make the viewer’s spirit an actual witness to the spectacle of life, he cannot live with this.  If he sees a criminal making ready to murder a sleeping woman & can’t interfere, can’t warn her, he suffers & is afflicted because his being is phantasmal.

So he participates solely as a dreamer, in no way responsible for events that occur.
-Edmund Carpenter

Disembodied Angels

The photojournalist/ advocate James Foley was brutally executed in a scene grizzlier than anything on Game of Thrones.  Just as in the television series, people were both enthralled and appalled by the scene.  And as in the television series, the viewers were unable to do anything, as they were present only as disembodied angels.

Are we all helpless in the face of Islamist brutality?  Is there anyone who can do something to stop these beasts?  The United States revealed that it had launched a rescue mission this summer, but the kidnap victims weren’t at the anticipated location.  President Obama denounced Foley’s executioners, saying “they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

Then the President returned to the golf course.

On network TV, everything gets equalized.  News, drama, comedy are all subject to commercial breaks.  The viewer is immersed in emotional turmoil, and then told how to improve his golf swing.  Sometimes there’s more drama in the ads, especially when they’re fundraising for abused pets, sick or hungry children.  If they’re too disturbing, we don’t even have to get up to express our apathy by changing the channel.

Golf and Beheading

Specialty TV programming is more relentless.  There are no commercial breaks, no escapes in Game of Thrones.  You don’t witness a beheading, and then return to golf.  It’s literary quality drama in a fantasy setting.

It’s much better entertainment then the Palestinian-Israel conflict.  While the former stage cheap melodrama, Israel pushes reality and facts.  A missile strike in Gaza is a theatrical production, with “corpses” wiggling under sheets.  Bloody photos from Syria or even Israel are captioned as Palestinian victims under fire.  Israel doesn’t engage in theatrics, and so when rockets  land they aren’t worthy of the news. For a generation that doesn’t relate images and programs back to the real world, the melodrama carries the day.

Was James Foley’s execution something to be taken seriously?  Was Daniel Pearl’s beheading twelve years earlier a turning point?  How concerned was the President, if it didn’t interfere with his golf schedule?

Angels of Apathy

Unlike their parents, the young are less anxious to validate images by reference back to observable reality.  That need arose largely from conditions unique to literacy, and literacy exercises little control in their lives.  Today’s images are self-sufficient.
-Edmund Carpenter

Carpenter published his observations in nineteen seventy-two.  The “young” he describes are now old, or at least seriously middle-aged.  It’s a series of generations that doesn’t have to relate the images, the programs, even the news back to observable reality.  Since the sounds and images are from a phantasmal world, it’s easy to be apathetic.

Game of Thrones, James Foley, ISIS, the massacres of the Yazidis (replicating some of the scenes from the novel Quantum Cannibals), Breaking Bad… which are more capable of holding our attention?  Dr. Jay Corwin, commenting on Foley’s beheading, states that “People with no common sense at all think it’s just a video game.”  Will James Foley or Daniel Pearl reboot, and start again?

Video Game Jihad

Perhaps the video game metaphor is appropriate for the Jihadis coming from western countries, such as Great Britain

Golf after the beheading

Golf after the beheading

and Canada; they get to play for real.  You can’t smell the blood of your victims on X-Box. Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Medal of Honor may be greater inspirations for Muslim youth than the Koran.  And if they die in the course of the game, they reboot to paradise with seventy two virgins- houris, a specialized form of angels.

Carpenter’s “young” must learn to relate the images confronting them back to observable reality.  They must learn that the threats to their civilization, to their lives are more than angels, phantasms.  If the people of the west treat the images confronting them as a dream on a TV channel, or abandoned for a game of golf, they will be responsible for the nightmare that descends upon them.