By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
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Transhumanists: Not Dead Yet
Re: Brendan Bernhard’s cover story “The Transhumanists” [January 19–25]. My Extropian philosophy and Natasha Vita-More’s Extropic Art movement offer all kinds of targets for critical analysis. Mr. Bernhard missed all of those. Instead, he chose to take some cheap shots, primarily at Natasha. (Perhaps he spared me due to our common Brit backgrounds.) Clearly he was not sympathetic to our ideas, nor hostile, nor particularly interested in his story. So he took the easy way. Critical attention to our ideas would have informed your readers better than silly personal digs. With the onrush of powerful new technologies, from genetic engineering to human-computer interfaces, journalists would do better to critically assess our rapidly growing philosophy and art movement than to indulge in personal responses to personal style.
—Max More Extropy Institute Los Angeles
Mr. Bernhard writes, “Perhaps one day we’ll all be transhumans, or posthuman cyborgs, but since we’re not cyborgs now, it’s hard to get too worked up about it.” This is like saying that since we have plenty of oil right now, we shouldn’t be concerned about finding alternative low- or non-polluting fuels. Or that we shouldn’t worry about deforestation. “Well sure, some day we’ll run out of trees and that will be bad, but there are lots of them around now.” Perhaps Mr. Bernhard’s problem is he can’t believe such changes could occur in his lifetime. He has lots of company, though. Throughout history, humans have always had a problem envisioning the world changing drastically within their lifetimes. I’ve been in the computer and telecommunications industries for most of my adult life, but if someone had asked me 10 years ago if I thought that I’d be able to carry a phone around with me in 10 years that would let me receive and place calls anywhere in the United States with no long-distance charges, and that I could also send and receive text messages anywhere in the world with it — all for under $75 a month — I wouldn’t have believed it. And that’s just small change compared to what Extropians think will happen. Here, indeed, is something to get worked up about.
I was pleased to see transhumanism featured so prominently, even despite the author’s rather disparaging tone. However, I would like to call attention to two factual errors in the article. First, FM-2030 is not dead in any meaningful sense; he is simply incapacitated while in cryonic suspension. One might say he is temporarily dead.
Secondly, transhumanism is not a religion. There are no deities or holy texts, and there is nothing that cannot be backed up by modern science, to say nothing of future science. It is simply a logical extension of the trends we see today — more technology, longer lifespans and the like.
—Jim Wisniewski Agawam, Massachusetts
Why am I not surprised to learn that a group of people with aspirations to live forever is centered in Southern California and, more specifically, in the western part of Los Angeles? Too bad there is not yet a cure for feeble-mindedness, shallowness and frivolity, to my view far more pressing issues than longevity or immortality. After all, who wants to be an immortal moron?
—Brigide Anaya Los Angeles
Hip-Hopping in Place
Ernest Hardy’s “Same Old, Same Old” [January 26–February 1] is right on target in its assessment of today’s black-white movie trend. Even though blacks star in and provide the soundtrack to today’s movies, they are nonetheless marginalized in the very films in which they headline with whites. Black portrayals are stuck in old-school formulas put to a hip-hop beat. As Hardy puts it, “In the end, it says that the comfort zones of white folk must be maintained at all costs.” We are still waiting for the universal, colorblind film. Thanks to Hardy for calling a spade a spade, and thanks to the L.A. Weekly for publishing his essay.
—Peggy Toy-McAllisterLos Angeles
Ernest Hardy’s article “Same Old, Same Old” articulates so many of the frustrations I’ve felt with how many films of late have dealt (or rather, not dealt) with the issue of race. What is particularly disturbing about many of the films mentioned in Hardy’s article is that they are presented within a liberal political framework. The boldface, 72-point headline proclaims interracial unity, but the fine print points out that the cost of this .unity is a silent acceptance by black people of a white-hegemonic cultural standard.
The scariest part of all of this, to me anyway, is that it is very easy to believe that the artists who produce such works are well-intended. I would hate to think this is the best that we can expect from the film community by way of dealing with race.