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FleshFactor: Anima/Animus

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

The recent conversations prompt this reply from me.

My introduction to bacteriorhodopsin was through Christian de
Duve's *Vital Dust: The Cosmic Imperative*. Imagine my surprise
when some weeks later I picked up a three-year old *Byte* magazine
in our den because it had a article on quantum, holographic and
biological computers. I was stunned when I got to the biological
part and suddenly encountered this bacteriorhodopsin molecule
again. What I know about Bob Birge's work is through that article
which is not really very much. It was interesting to learn that the
molecule has multi-photocyclic phases. As it was described in the
article only two laser's were activating its photocyclic talents so
I assumed two such phases like in 0 - 1. 

I failed chemistry alas--but one of my specialities is "anima" --
soul. So Bob Birge has brought up the right subject for me. I once
wrote an MA thesis entitled *Anima and Woman: An Examination of
Feminine Consciousness* which was Jungian-based in content. It
doesn't surprise me that Bob Birge thinks we arrive at the idea of
soul because we *think* it. He is male and very in tune with
thinking. Anima is difficult to get to know--many men never do. I
would have said we arrive at the idea of soul because we *know* it.
But then again, I have spent years trying to think like animus and
trying to get to know him too. Two different ways of experiencing
the soul--one either thinks it or knows it. The pursuit of it differs.

Are we machines as Bob Birge claims we are? Puzzling that. If we
are machines already why are we trying to invent another model with
no flesh and blood? To assure our immortality in metals, complete
with programmed soul? *Softimage* working on a new software
*Virtual Theatre* sent me a video with their latest
accomplishments. Here you see people, wired to a computer's input
channels, activating machines on the screen. The machines (or
bottles, or cars, or robots) wiggle, move, and walk just like
whoever is doing the movement outside of the computer. There is an
excerpt at the end of the clip of Stelarc completely nude except
there and completely wired. It is difficult to see a spot on his
body that isn't. He's wired to a life-sized robot. And then Stelarc
begins a gentle dance. So gentle, so fluid and the robot so clumsy
and massive begins to dance this gentle dance emulating Stelarc's
movements. Every time I see this clip I am overcome with emotion.

Emotion because I realize there is some profound need for humans to
get in touch with machines. I gave a paper a few years ago in which
I argued that the need was a cosmic need. It was an intuitive need,
necessary if we are to become cosmic beings. As de Duve so aptly
put it in another context, it is, of course, a cosmic imperative.  

Laurie McRobert   <laumcr@cam.org>


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