I found this initial task to be a stodgy one to swallow. The frightening prospect of choosing – right now, in the first month back, when you are (I am) still clinging on to the taste of summer and trying to remember how to be a person again – a topic to care about. And not just selecting a pretty-looking, smart-sounding area of interest to start a brief fling with – a topic that you feel for, one that you will want to explore for at least the next two years. This prospect, this is what frightened me.
For a while, I thought I should look to things that made me angry: injustice, prejudice, lies, lies, lies. A couple of conversations with friends and peers on the subject of the schism and violence in Northern Ireland have of course come up since I’ve moved here (being from a small village 10 miles outside of Omagh, a town whose reputation is sadly still largely based on the car bomb planted there in 1998 – type ‘Omagh’ into Google, and your third suggested search is ‘Omagh bombing’). Being asked about the problems in Northern Ireland doesn’t offend me, I don’t presume that others presume I come from a country (is it a country?) populated only by terrorists, so I decided that what was rubbing me up the wrong way was the way in which NI is portrayed in the media elsewhere in the UK: violent, prickling with unrest, unsafe. I have no evidence to say absolutely that this is untrue, yet it is not the NI that I know. I haven’t ever felt personally or mortally threatened as a direct result of the Protestant/Catholic division, but I think this is a result of the company I keep and the safe and sheltered paths I have found myself treading. I tend not to make friends with those who want to perpetuate out of date ideologies and maintain long-stagnant arguments, and – like anyone not wishing to fall into a fight – I try to avoid open and foolish provocation of sensitive issues in less-than-secure situations. Maybe I am being terribly irresponsible by turning a blind eye, turning my back on problems that are deep-rooted and do still resonate powerfully with some – especially some that have lost friends and family members, or felt the threat of sectarian violence themselves due to crimes committed by angry, angry people – yet I know I cannot survive if I pursue this course of thought for academic studies’ sake, or even as a way of trying to get to know my homeland better. And what would be the point in that, when this is the side of NI I do not want to know, I wish did not still exist?
It feels to me as though this course of thought can only result in regression. Pointless arguments, beatings, murders, bombings, resentment, fear-mongering… It is something that really does tend to drain the life from me, and an issue I feel too detached from – not simply because I live in a different place at this moment – for all the guilt I feel in creating these words: I never cared. I know atrocious things have happened, but humans do awful things all the time. Please do not hate because your father did. Please do not kill because your father did. Add into this the fact that Northern Ireland is certainly not the only nation (is it a nation?) to be dealing with these problems of civil unrest, violence, religious (but not really – the divide in Christianity in NI just simplifies the task of creating differences) conflict, negative media coverage… What can we do but try to rise above it?
This brings me to the topic I do hold dear to my heart; the pool of thought I will be delving into: cyborgs. I made this abrupt jump across thoughtpools on the Tuesday before our Wednesday group crit, and found these bites of interest scattered about the internet:
- Lepht Anonym – DIY implants
- Self-monitoring productive machines
- Andrew McAfee, Are droids taking our jobs? Optimistic view on end point
- Sensing north & south
- Award-winning skin phone idea
- 1998 scientist chip implant
- BIOPRINTING: ‘As well as allowing keyhole bioprinters to repair organs inside a patient during an operation, in situ bioprinting could also have cosmetic applications. For example, face printers may be created. These would evaporate existing flesh and simultaneously replace it with new cells to exact patient specification. People could therefore download a face scan from the Internet and have it applied to themselves. Alternatively, some teenagers may have their own face scanned, and then reapplied every few years to achieve apparent perpetual youth.’
- Ray Kurzweil interview
- A beardly Aubrey
With only one morning left to do the ‘creating a piece of visual communication’ task, I knew I wouldn’t have a very effective creation to show to the group, but I knew I’d be able to gush quite openly about this subject, so I decided I would do something similar to this rather strange advert we found framed in Poverty Aid one fine day:
but, you know, not nearly as funny.
So I slept in. Quickly watercoloured a lady and markerpenned some writing, ate some toast and made it in an hour and a half late for my crit. This is wot I done: Feedback was interesting. The main sticking point was that I had not yet decided whether I thought the lines blurring between man and machine to be a good thing or not. I have since got out some books on Post-Humanism and its condition, and The Singularity that Kurtzweil says is now – or then, when he wrote it, and am following H+ magazine on Twitter and the Book of Faces, and hopefully will be able to get in contact with an interesting man we met in the Eldon again, who was working in some kind of biological+technological programming thing – strangely I cannot recall exactly what he was talking about, but Rachel has his email, so maybe we’ll meet again. I will condense it down, I will.
For now, I must sleep, and sometime read, even though reading week has passed by – I think it is still allowed.