M. Christian is one of my literary heroes — as evidenced by how I fawned over him in writing my forward to the new edition of The Bachelor Machine. When I met my lover Mz Honey J, it was a sign of how compatible we are that she not only already knew his work, but plans to turn his short story “The New Motor” into a puppet show someday.
I am thrilled to have his writing here on my blog, as Approximately 8,000 Words’ first guest blogger.
Do You Know What Your Children Will Be?
by M. Christian
Not that long ago — not long at all, a few decades at best — you would have caused quite a stir. It wouldn’t have been because of anything as baroque as your facial piercings or that your hair is toxic-waste green. Nah, if you were a woman somehow transported back those few decades you would have been the source of more than a few outraged stares and even some hysterical outbursts. That’ll teach you, after all, for wearing pants.
So who knows what you might face if you were on that same spot in a few more decades in the future? Stoned to death for your fashion sense? Leered at for showing your nose and ears? Or, more than likely, frowned at your being such a prude … wearing clothes in public? How rude!
Things are changing … fast. There’s nothing new in that, but what is brand-spanking is how fast things are changing. It’s easy to forget that — living as we are on the edge of that social and technological wave — that those faces staring at your pants were only your grandparents, only your parents.
It’s a universal constant that while technology might not be used for fun — for sex — first, it certainly will be shortly thereafter. We are a sexy species — smart, but still sexy. Thinking with our minds first, our genitals second.
Polishing up my crystal ball, breathing on its prescient surface, I love to try and gaze up those years — take a peak, so to speak, at what we or our children might do for fun.
One thing we have over ancestors is our bodies … or rather what we can do with them. Plastic surgery has gone from a badge of shame to a sexual plaything — having the small enlarged, the big shrunken, the missing replaced, and the unwanted lopped off is handled like strolling through the supermarket: today, I think, I’ll have the extra-large breasts, please. It’s not hard to imagine a decade or two hence where some of our issues regarding gender and appearance fall by the wayside. Will breasts become the ‘in-thing’ for the upwardly mobile professional … of either sex? Will penises become the next power tie? For the first time in human history we can just about make ourselves into whatever we, or our partners, fancy. We’re only limited by minor hitches in technology … and our will. But as history has taught us, yesterday’s taboos are today’s fashion statements. Who knows what tomorrow’s sexual body will look like?
We have also started to plumb the depths of chemical attraction. Now we have Viagra, but tomorrow we might have a pill for every shade of excitement. Want to feel sexy, experience orgasms beyond the ken of mortal man? Pop one, lie back and enjoy it. What happens to sexual responsibility when something over the counter can turn you from Mother Theresa to Annie Sprinkle? Will we have hormone vacations? A chemical drip as we try and squeeze as many comes into a weekend — only to dry out for work on Monday?
But what of the opposite? Sex is hardwired into our brains but so many seem scared of those animal depths. A pill and all those fantasies, all those inappropriate thoughts, all those disturbing impulses are gone — washed away. Greater productivity, no distractions … will the last two people on Earth be two “too-busy-to-reproduce” workaholics? Will we, as a species, be doomed to extinction by not wanting to face our sexual selves? Before you laugh think about the other people in the world, those who are terrified of joy — lots of them, aren’t there?
Our bodies are plastic — optional in all kinds of ways — but what of our minds? Now we can make motors twitch, controlled by the neurons in the minds of mice. Tomorrow? Cortical jacks and cyberspace wet dreams, virtual realities that could be made even more real than … well, reality. Look out your window for a second. Go ahead, I’ll wait … dirty streets, washed-out sky, bad resolution all around. Poor sound. If you could live in a movie — wouldn’t you? Will reality eventually be shunned by our cybernetic children for a shared electronic Valhalla — a shining, divine illusion better than anything in the ‘real’ world?
Before even going that far, we’ve already had a taste of what we might become. It’s common to be something/someone else in a chatroom, role playing for laughs … or, because safe behind a screen, we can be what we’ve always wanted. Will some of our (those that decide to breed) 2.5 kids live suit and tie by day, high-heels and garters by night? The best of both worlds — or any number of worlds, for that matter.
Plastic surgery has its limitations, but genetics has almost none. Look at the animal kingdom, and think about little ol’ Dolly and its clone. Maybe the future will be the Island of Dr. Moreau: where beast men prowl through dance clubs decorated like the veldt, hunting zebra to eat or fuck, their choice. Maybe our children will send us postcards from the Amazon, the whole family hanging from an ancient tree by their tails. “Wish you were here.”
Genetics can also close up that gender loop: be a man, woman, a bit of both for as long as you’d like. What will happen to the world when anyone can be anything — will gender become a popularity contest? Male this month, female the next. Will one gender become “normal” and another not — secret clubs where penises or pussies will be the secret handshake for admittance? “Tell me, sir, are you now — or have you ever been — a female?”
Bodies aside, what is sex except for a feeling — and what is feeling but just electrical and chemical impulses? We don’t need our bodies for reproduction anymore — test tubes and Dolly prove that. So what do we need our cunts and cocks for — decoration? A temporary hat stand or pencil cup? Why not link our sexual responses to something much more productive … or less messy. An orgasm from a raise? A come from a handshake? What will pornography be like when bare hands are considered risqué or Forbes is likened to a visit to a bordello? Will our children stand there, naked and unashamed except for their gloves, laughing at our stories of pregnancy and Presidential scandal — only to turn beet red when we talk about our jobs or distractedly clean our fingernails?
But do we even need our bodies anymore? A decade, two, three, a few little innovations and our consciousness could leave these meat bags forever. Will our children be the size of cities, vast complexes lazily making their way to the nearby stars — having sex with each other via radio waves or along a spectrum we aren’t even aware of yet? Or maybe our children’s bodies will be nothing but scuttling little boxes while their minds live in immense cybernetic fantasies in a piece of silicon the size of a dime.
After all, what are our minds but electrical impulses? Data to be stored, edited, manipulated, copied … erased? Will our kids be able to change themselves all the way down to their base existences? Try a different personality a day, with world-spanning fads in behavior — this month a world of Charlie Mansons, maybe the next Nina Hartleys. “Who do you want to be tonight, honey? The shepherd or the sheep?” Will procreation be like installing an upgrade? Bodies don’t matter, only the software does: take a bit of one program (mom) add some of another (dad) and the result would be a new bit of self-aware software (kid). Instead of playing around behind the barn will our children first experiment by playing Norton Utilities with another program?
The future is unwritten — and thus unknowable. But there is one thing we do know, can know: the only thing certain is change. We might have shocked our parents, alarmed them with our audaciousness, but our own children — those that will follow us — will have a lot more toys to play with.