Sunday, December 18, 2011

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil by J.D. Bernal (1929)

"Normal man is an evolutionary dead end; mechanical man, apparently a break in organic evolution, is more in the true tradition of a further evolution." -page 42
"Instead of the present [human] body structure have a whole framework of some sort of very rigid shape it might well be rather a short cylinder...the brain and nerve cells are kept circulating over it at a uniform temperature. The connected in the anterior of the case with its immediate sense organs, the eye and the ear. The eyes will look into a kind of optical box which will enable them to alternatively to look into periscopes projecting from the case, telescopes, microscopes and a whole range of televisual apparatus. The ear would have the corresponding microphone attachments and would still be the chief organ for wireless communications...attached to the brain cylinder would be immediate motor organs, corresponding to but much more complex than, our mouth, tongue and hands." -page 38
"The complex minds could, with their lease of life, extend their perceptions and understanding and their actions for beyond those of the [normal organic] individual. Time senses could be altered: the events that moved with the slowness of geological ages would be apprehended as movement...As we have seen, sense organs would tend to be less and less attached to bodies, and the host of subsidiary, purely mechanical agents and perceptors would be capable of penetrating those regions where organic bodies cannot enter of hope to survive." -page 45
The brain itself would become more and more separated into different groups of cells or individual cells with complicated connections, and probably occupying considerable space. The would be loss of motility which would not be a disadvantage owing to extension of sense faculties. Every part would be accessible for replacing or repairing." -page 46
The new life would be more plastic, more directly controllable and at the same time more variable and more permanent than that produced by the triumphant opportunism of nature. Bit by bit the heritage in the direct line of mankind -the heritage of the original life emerging on the face of the world -would dwindle, and in the end disappear effectively, being preserved as some curious relic, while the new life which conserves none of the substance and all of the spirit of the old would take its place...Finally, consciousness itself may end or vanish in a humanity that has become completely etherialized, becoming masses of atoms in space communicating by radiation, and ultimately perhaps resolving into pure light." -page 47
"The cardinal tendency of progress is the replacement of an indifferent chance environment by a deliberately created one. As time goes on, the acceptance, the appreciation, even the understanding of nature, will be less and less needed. In its place will come the need to determine the desirable form of the humanly-controlled universe which is nothing more or less than art." -page 66

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