[extropy-chat] BODY: What Strutting Modifications are Transhuman?!

natashavita at earthlink.net natashavita at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 20 17:13:14 UTC 2004

Musings ...

I have been thinking about body modification and the gothic subculture who
tattoo and pierce their bodies, claiming people like Stelarc as their gurus
(however honestly reluctant Stelarc is to the association.)

Recently in Toronto at the TransVision 2004 Conference, I saw a few
individuals who were hosting tattoos and piercing - which all seemed quite
ordinary and even stylistically un-Versace.  

Tattoos have been painted onto the human skin for eons, and such practice
is neither novel nor unique.  (However, the method of applying tattoos has
come a long way from the hippies who made them a 1900’s fad.)

“Tattoos are no longer just an art form of the elite or associated with
societal deviants. People of all ages and from all walks of life are
finding their own special meaning in tattoos. Once associated only with
gangs, tattoos are done between friends sharing common bonds and by
individuals expressing their own uniqueness. Tattooing is modern in its
form only in the tools and designs used. The concept and art of tattooing
has existed throughout the centuries, beginning as early as Ancient Egypt
around 2000 B.C.”  (PageWise, Inc. 2002,
http://riri.essortment.com/historyoftatto_rjoy.htm )

I wondered if these individuals were at the conference because they were
supportive of transhumanism, or if they were there to see Mann and Stelarc.
As you know, I’m not a big cyborg aficionado, for me the real mavricks of
human/machine interface are the folks who actually need the body parts to
function (although certainly Mann would claim that he does) to or the
engineers who design them.  I think of a woman I saw one day in Los Angeles
by the beach.  She was walking up stairs in a tennis outfit, white T and
shorts.  Her right leg was shinny metal and I thought far more attractive
than her left leg.  She seemed to feel at home with both legs as equally
functioning parts of her body.  I also thought of my dear sweet mother and
her replacement hip, and a close friend and his robotic arm after loosing
his arm in an electrical accident.  They are the “hippies” of today –
living quite admirably in their modifications.

Thinking about why a sub-culture of body modifiers would think that they
are exemplary of transhumans is peculiar to me.  Tattoos do not extend
life, or improve it as far as I know.  A piercing, could help with genital
stimulation, but otherwise appears not to have any physiological benefit. 
So, why do body modifiers think that they are transhuman and transhumanists
are out of step?

Because they do not have to contemplate – to think – do the research, write
the papers, and come up with the ideas concerning the future. They can
parade modifications with little intellectual muss or fuss.

Speaking of body medications of tattoos – and the reason I am writing this
is because of a man who would make Body Modification folks cringe in their
tattoos.   He is “Cat Man.” 
http://et.tv.yahoo.com/tv/2004/08/20/catmanvh1/  The one and only!  He has
been transforming into his favorite feline for 20 years, and has spent over
$200,000 in body modification surgeries, including eyebrow implants,
extensive tattoos, reshaping his ears, a cleft lip, and a relocated septum.

Now don’t laugh.  He is the real thing.  He does not simply put tattoos all
over his flesh, or pierce his hose or chop up his ears, he actually
believes and has become what he thinks he is – he walks his walk! (Down the
cat walk.)


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