Review of "Our Posthuman Future"
"Our Posthuman Future"
by Francis Fukuyama
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
218 pp. $25.00
Review by Li Pushkin
Transposing the Darwinian figurations of evolution into the dynamic simplicity of an ideogram we find a man hanging from a tree: his eyes dark as the abyss he battled and then became. Dead branches arc downward diverging from ones plunging upward while fruit gleams over Man's head in altitudes inhabitable only by the Phoenix, and a gnarled trunk split by lightning diverges into roots that strangle each other between the dance of worms.
We would not find this ideogram in documents laying out the fundamentals of civilizations, such as ancient
If only Mr. Fukuyama, whose observations, informed by Aldous Huxley's foresight and Friedrich Nietzche's incediary penetrations into oblivion and beatitude, went a few steps further, his concern that biotechnology might cause us to loose our humanity would stand on more than just sand, and his proscriptions for order and sanity, in his lexicon, regulation, would be less breakable.
Charles Darwin's bones are dust, and his evolutionary tree was smashed by bombs falling from the stratosphere in WW1 and then obliterated by the atomic bomb in the following war. It is in the branches of a new but ancient evolutionary tree, planted from the very beginning of Man, and hidden until paleontologists Julian Huxley (brother of Aldous), and Teilhard de Chardin uncovered its thriving roots amidst bones in Africa and skulls in China, that we ascend from our atomization, fragmentation, and brokenness to find the point of convergence not only in humankind, but also in the diaphaneities of life and the cosmos. This evolution, in contrast to Darwin's understandably destroying and destructible one, is not a divergent process based on chance, competition, and selection: power and death, but is a ceaselessly creative convergence of life on every layer, from the cell to the lotus to the lion, finding its apex in the complexities of human beings and their societies where ultra-differentiation and ultra-union happen at the same time. Teilhard had a word for that: love, and the human presence on account of that extends into the most cosmic contours.
History, or in
Everyone on every echelon of the world community would agree that "we need institutions with real enforcement powers" amid the tectonic shifts in our human experience in the advent of biotechnology's potentialities, but the only way those institutions can withstand those shifts without collapsing is through transparency and communication. The "hierarchical pyramid" becomes a trapezoid, changing again into a rectangle, but slowly taking the shape of what we've always known the human path and tribe to be: a circle.
Our circular legacy on earth as human beings, exhilarating to us with its hints of infinitude, can easily be eclipsed by the original darkness from which it emerged. Nietzsche's superman, who can be seen in the distance now swinging on the ghost of
Francis Fukuyama mentions the word love only twice, maybe three times in his book. Perhaps in his next book he will address love.