Hypochondria for fun and prophet

I’ve been restrained so far. No more Ms Nice Guy.

Honestly, if I just transcribed my notes, you’d get the appalling idea. But why deny myself the pleasure of commenting? After all, I had to sit through it.

Natasha Vita-More. Savour that name. So much more exciting, so much more meaningful than Nance Clark, isn’t it? And hell, if you’re your own creation, you’re entitled to naming rights.

I wanted to poke her repeatedly with very sharp sticks. For several days.

The words ‘body dysmorphic disorder’ leap to mind. As do ‘narcissist’ and ‘solipsist’.

Natasha is the founder and director of the Transhumanist Arts and Culture World Center, no less. She’s very keen to let us know (repeatedly) that, contrary to her appearance (well-preserved, dieted, trained, painstakingly made-up late 50s, early 60s, at a guess), she’s old. But she’s not at all keen to let us know how old. A cynic might suspect we’d be underwhelmed if we knew.

But why would we? A woman who has packed so much into her life is sure to bear some scars from it. And boy, has she packed.

Not to mention that she appears to have suffered from all known diseases. Oh, that’s unfair. I shouldn’t have said that. She didn’t mention Ebola. Or Morgellons. Although I’m sure if we’d had time she’d have mentioned a dose of that. Ebola may have strained even this audience’s credulity.

Not surprisingly for one so constantly and innovatively ill, she yearns to become the first post-human. She hasn’t yet come up with a design but she’s assembled a team, including Eric Drexler, for whom my respect, tenuous beforehand, has just plummeted.

She visualises a whole-body prosthetic, although not one necessarily located in real time. Excuse me, but W precisely TF does that mean?  Good god, I’m going back to Kant again (Hi Manny!) If something’s located in space then it has to be located in time. If something’s located in time (real time or fake time, whatever) it has to be located in space.  So it Natasha’s full-body prosthetic isn’t located in real time, it’s not located in space and is therefore, like everything else she said, just a load of old cobblers. A consignment of geriatric shoe repairers.

But how about a direct quote?

We are better able to reflect and interrogate ourselves because we have Google. We don’t have to walk to a library and look up a single book – we have it all at our fingertips.

Well, yes. And I saw it on the internet, so it MUST be true. But this anserine apothegm somehow encapsulates Natasha’s thinking as she exposed it to her doting audience. It’s a gallimaufry of half-digested, semi-understood, techno-utopian wish-fulfilment fantasies.

(I was going to edit that last paragraph, but I’ve decided to let it stand: it indicates just how much the odious old baggage winds me up. I normally put a fair bit of effort into writing in simple English, but that sesquipedalian outburst came straight from the soul.)

So what’s Wonderwoman manqué  thinking about? Well, it’s sort of nano-bio-info-cognitive. Or is it wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey?

It’s all to do with ‘life expansion rather than life extension’. No, I don’t know what it means either.

She wants to know what the protocol for post-humanism is. What is species typical? Apparently the aim of human enhancement, outside the boring ‘normalising, therapeutic model’ is to ‘change the terms of death’.

Again, WTF? WTFF? How do you change the terms of an absolute? Absolutes don’t do terms. Absolutes do absolutes.

But let me give you a bit of background on this paragon. You won’t have to endure the same amount that I did. I’m not a sadist.

She’s (another) performance artist – or was, before she became The Legend That Is Natasha. She made a film called Bone Density. It consisted (and I couldn’t make this up) of a series of pictures of her bone scans, showing how much bone density she lost between the ages of 40 and 50. Probably not coming to your local multiplex any time soon. They’d have to have bouncers on the outside chucking people in.

How self-obsessed can you be that you’d make a film of your bone scans?  Should I be filming my blood tests for posterity? Cannes beckons.

Then Her Natasha-ness looked into ways to restore her bone density. Fortunately she was able to, what with her being a ‘body-builder and certified nutritionist’. Two things – if she was both of these, how did she manage to lose the bone density in the first place? And ‘dietician’ is the legally protected word. Any fool can call him or herself a nutritionist. And as for certified …

She did another film, which was unaccountably overlooked for an Academy Award. It was on having her skin resurfaced.  Because she had to have her skin resurfaced, oh yes she did. And do you know why?

She was doing a bio-art project in a rose garden in Texas. And bugs would come and attack the roses, so she had to be out in the sun a lot for several months, shooing them away. From this she got basal cell carcinomas all over her face. She showed us lab slides of them.

Fortunately for her, the audience had checked in its critical faculties at the door. Generally, though, an Australian audience would know that (a) most sun cancers are squamous cell, not basal cell and (b) you do the damage many, many years before they manifest:  not straight after a few months of Texan sunburn. Correlation, Nattie, is not causation.

And then there was the bladder cancer, which was why she was rose-gardening in Texas. And the cataracts. So she has artificial lenses in her eyes. Big whoop. So do lots of people, and very grateful they are for them too. But Our Lady of the Camellias – sorry – Roses isn’t. Her brain doesn’t work very well with her lenses.

You know what I was thinking. I had to stick my fist in my mouth.

What else can she put in herself, she asks. Fist had to stay in mouth.

It will come as no surprise to you that she’s sent off some spit to 23andMe. And she’s making a film about it. Natasha Gobs on a Cotton Bud – this summer’s blockbuster release.

And she wants to be a substrate-independent mind. Whatevs. And she’s going to be frozen when she carks it.

As is the lunatic – and I use the word advisedly – who approached me later. She told me so. To both. She’s a manic depressive. Took her all of, oh, I dunno, 40 seconds to tell me that. It’s a bit like suicide – the ones who threaten never do it. And people who ARE mentally ill tend to try to hide it. She lost interest in talking at me when I mentioned that. Unfortunately not before she told me her late husband had had his head frozen.

I’m not even going to bother telling you about the cryonics love fest. It was several hours of ‘Where can I get it done and how much does it cost?’

But I do want to make one observation. It was like being there at the birth of a new variant of Christianity. It had all the ingredients – the bearded messiah, the sorrowing mother, the promise of life eternal, the devoted acolytes.

I wonder what it’ll be like when they get to the Inquisition.

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