Terri Schiavo was "the first celebrity posthuman," but posthumanism is coming for all of us, according to a group of science fiction writers who met to discuss the future of identity and media.
Writer Chris Nakashima-Brown just got back from a three-day colloquium on "parallel worlds" in Mexico, with Bruce Sterling, Linda Nagata, Mark Dery, Christopher Priest and M. John Harrison. Nakashima-Brown posted a tantalizing collection of soundbites about the Singularity, the economy and our posthuman future.
Among the choicest are Christopher Priest's claim that only speculative fiction novels really put the individual's choices at the center of the story: "Only in the modern speculative novel is responsibility the core, the argument, the message."
Bruce Sterling argues that celebrities, athletes and models will be the leading edge of posthumanism, but then he also says, "In the future, the poor will not be able to avoid becoming posthuman, because they just can't afford it."
And M. John Harrison says culture may already have collapsed, "and we may already be on the other side of it." Now, our personalities are being mediated through mass media. And the job of science fiction is to show how we're "compiling our personalities from moment to moment." The writer's task, says Harrison, is to "write about individuals who are constantly being mediated and re-mediated. Not alienated, but pureed." (Which sounds sort of Dickian to me.)
Nakashima-Brown's unreconstructed notes are a bit frustrating to read, but it sounds like it was a fascinating discussion, and just the bits you can read are thought-provoking.