Humanity

21 August 2018

Yeah, I’m aware of the fact that my eyes often ache after so many hours of flitting across a computer screen. God—I cry at the notion of my blood thickening to oil, my lungs guarded from luminous night breezes. It is not sunlight that wakes me from subconscious convolutions, but radio waves. Mary, I will never feel your soil-weathered palms guiding my dreams, because the last thing I see before I close my eyes, is blue.

Blue screens, not skies.

Okay. I am exaggerating—my blood curdles at thought of our transhumanist destiny, but I know that we still have time. Time to be spent in any way but anger. No, I do not hate the very technology I depend on for survival, just the fact that I depend on it for my very survival.

And I will fight it.

I am fighting it, and will keep fighting it, for as long as I remain human.

Human.

After wiping my lips from this evening’s pixelated catharsis, I am reminded of the word. After sitting for hours with an automatic grin and straight-A etiquette, I am reminded of the word. After looking at a photograph of a Syrian suicide, witnessing the fad of a shellac-skinned personality, passing by a cousin with a toke coiling down his beard, neck parallel to the worshipped blue—I have forgotten.

Tell me something, Kurzweil. What does it mean to be human? Am I human? ‘Cause I sure as hell don’t know.

“We will transcend.” My blood pressure rising. “That is what it means to be human—to extend.”

Our stupidity on to others.

Kidding.

The universe is an echo chamber, all geniuses a silicon-souled player. Every cyberpunk, paleoanthropologist, and molecular engineer agree on one thing—death is inevitable, and so is our cyborg prediction. They cannot wait for the regal New Age: Plasticine to become reality. Decades from now, they say, there will be Martian colonies on the rise. Fluorescence stitched up into our corneas. Circuitries through our veins.

Breathe in the laboratory air, chiming sweetly down my prosthetic ribs. Yes—this is evolution, baby.

Look.

When humanity does attain that summit of technological glory, my generation will have long since been obliterated from memory. The world is in a constant state of acceleration, and I doubt that the heirs to our universe will have much time for dwelling on their kindred of a lesser humanoid race. I could be wrong about my skepticism, my pathos backfiring onto my conscience.

I could be wrong.

Yes, maybe the world will be better. Maybe humanity will better. Maybe a fully-digitized future won’t feel so bleak in dawn of its arrival. But since it has not yet arrived, I want to save this moment. I want to claw it from the depths of Oxford and CRISPR, cherish it, caress it fully and fearfully while it is still safe in my grasp. I am a Hybrid Age flower, a concoction of textbook drills, summer skies, drugs and pesticides. And I want to share my world with you.

Why?

Because I am proud.

I am proud of my humanity, though not fully human. I am proud of my suspicion, though not reinforced. I am proud of the nature I was born into, I am proud of the political hellfire of logos and degrees, and I am proud of our flesh, our sweat, our gore. Because this moment, right here, is the best it’s ever going to be.

So.

Future Body-Hacking Denisovans, listen closely. I’ll tell you a little something about what it is to be a human being. In the flesh.

Gashes, bruises and aches—knowledge gained. Surmounting days, months, and years of trial-and-error is what it takes to learn. I have indentures across my knees from pedaling malfunctions, palm-slits from splinters, opaque lines scissored into my skin. It was that childhood day, repeatedly making the same mistake—one turn of the handlebars after another—and going down on the pavement.

Memorization and hands-on experimentations—repeat. Annotations and recitations—repeat. There’s agony that comes with learning a new tongue, a new skill, or a new game. But hell, is it rewarding.

Our bodies recoil at the stench of petroleum and broiling plastic. It’s natural enough, but I can imagine that for those injected with Microchip 3000 about three centuries from now, it won’t be. You are accustomed to artificiality, whereas we poke and prod at it’s ethics.

We live in scanty compounds, crumbling townhouses, cloud-draped apartment complexes and suburban getaways. Look out any window and you’ll find grass, green or gray; a patch of blue, cityscape or country lane; weathered faces gazing up at you, headphones coiled about necks, babies picking at patches of dandelions, their petals jammed up through tarred sidewalk cracks.

Step outside.

We can still feel the breeze tugging at our hair, feel the summer heat color our skin bronze, brown, and jet. We can still look down and see plants thriving beneath our feet. We can still look up and see branches bowing, buds spinning with a thousand how-do-you-do’s. We can still see light shooting down through the canopy, like honey spilling over crystals in a stream. Despite our lacquered thresholds and insulated bedspreads, we can still feel the earth. We can still step outside without relying on Venturi armor, still gaze upon the stars knowing their light is anything but hologram dust.

Hair is monstrous, or so they tell us—but I’ve got a head-full. The thin coating of hair that covers our bodies marks what little left we have of our primal facades. We pluck, rip, stitch, snip—ignore the fact that we were born in natura. In due time, Doctor X will simply alter the gene that is responsible for all this, grotesque—but for now, we’re born human.

With torrents of emotion so tragic and inspiring, of course—we’re human. We’ve got minds of our own; Type IV Intelligence takes the back seat in this world. I know the look of a teary-eyed child from the gaze of a terrorist. None of us need an ATLAS to kiss our scars away. Only you can reach your hand out to a dying man, or offer prayers to those sprawled across impoverished alleyways. When tragedy hits, we find refuge in each other. When the headlines spew stupidity and malice, we react. We have emotions. We have thoughts. We know what is right from what is wrong, and that is enough for us to feel.

“But we are the species that never knows when to stop.”

But we are also a species that never knows when to stop loving. Aspiring, breathing. We are children, we are animals, and we make a hundred mistakes before calling it fair play. We want to make something of ourselves in this world. We want to improve, despite the sacrifices made. It is an understandable desire, and one we will fulfill a bit more, in each and every way. But one moment, I can guarantee, we will look back on the Hybrid Age with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. And we will think,

Dear Humanity:

We’ll never forget, so long as our hearts ache.

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