Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

Rethinking the institutions of reproduction

‘Mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of men’ wrote Borges. Alas, the number of men needs to be multiplied sometimes in order for the population not to die out. What’s more, after reading Dawkins, it’s difficult not to view reproduction as the only truly objective goal of human life (because a human-centered viewpoint is myopic and hardly objective, while a gene-centered perspective on human life is broad and impartial).

As a civilization, we’re at the beginning of exciting times. The future is bright, and what science already allows us is a fascinating progress in the quest of liberating man from the dictate of obsolete nature. Challenging mainstream views on reproduction is still a taboo because many family-related institutions are considered sacred. But excessive attachment to customs is just a traditionalist legacy. I’m certain that in the next decades we’ll see radical changes related to the following spheres of reproduction: from fertilization and gestation, to the social arrangements of childcare and family life in general.

Woman against nature

It’s a moral obligation of every woman to turn against her nature. At least, if she wants to realize her full human potential. Which every decent human should strive for. So – an obligation.

Nature played on women an evil joke. Endowing them with the same intelligence as men, and yet – subjecting them to a reproductive race that rewards the least worthy human qualities, the ultimate reward of which – to be confined in the prison of activities that degrade human mind.

First, let’s define human potential. My claim is that what makes us human is our reason. Reason is the most noble and most divine part of man’s nature. Aristotle famously claimed that humans have three types of soul. The vegetative soul responsible for growth, which we share with plants, the appetitive soul responsible for independent movement, which we share with animals, and the rational soul – uniquely human. This is the faculty that allows us to think, speak, read, write, and contemplate abstract concepts. The same idea can be expressed through the lens of neurophysiology and the studies of human brain structure. The plant soul is reducible to spinal cord, the animal soul – to reptilian and mammalian brain, the human soul – to cerebral cortex, a part of nervous system that evolved the latest and made all higher cognitive functions possible. It’s the most unique human faculty, the best thing in us, and it’s reasonable to strive to utilize it.

My claim is that most activities traditionally associated with womanhood are degrading to any worthy individual. They don’t contribute to development of any higher faculties of human character – whether you call it soul, mind, or brain. Thinking, abstract reasoning, writing, and creating things. It’s difficult to respect people who dedicate themselves entirely to things trivial, practical, and domestic. Those who internalize house and family as the ultimate values. Whose hobbies are limited to cute crafts. Who treat appearance as the apex of human existence. I have no respect to women who dedicate themselves to the mere life maintenance. But I have an infinite respect for Hannah Arendt, Louise Bourgeois, Kay Sage, and all other women who do writing, art, and philosophy. Expanding the boundaries of knowledge available to the humankind. Doing things that are universal, scalable – not merely practical, trivial, domestic.

What life consists of (I)

Elbows and backs. Life is not about unity but multiplicity. The reign of quantity. That’s the ontology, basic inventory of the world. Monotheism and totalitarianism don’t hold any ground. Monotheistic theologians mourned the lost unity, and damned diversity and plurality that characterizes the human condition. ‘Negation of the Many and absorption into the One’. That’s what they wanted. ‘Descent from Essence (or forma) toward the pole of Substance (or materia). Essence is qualitative while substance is quantitative.’ That’s what they couldn’t stand. The very nature of human condition is what they couldn’t stand. I bet a lot of mystical theories are based on this sentiment.

And yet, centripetal forces keep driving the humankind forward. The strive for communication. Seeking to breach the gap between isolated entities, to erase the border, see a unity. Reflections of oneself in others, ropes and bridges, smoke in a twisted mirror. But what to do when one doesn’t have tools to breach it? Way too self-contained, absorbed, sealed, and slowly fermenting. Inexpressible, impenetrable. No tools to establish meaningful connection, no instruments to drill straight into that dark murky substance at the core, bring it to light. Someone’s unable to formulate two sentences in spoken words, while everyone else having fun in company. A ghost in a hermeneutically sealed room with perfect sound isolation. An artist without brush, a deaf piano player, a numb orator lifted to gallows. A fly with ripped out wings. The journey of those is a lonely journey. But the task is to find a way, a tool, a method…

Life is a cooled lava, a subvolcanic quartz, a petrified wood. And a constant search for forceps that could extract the pulp and fire out of these dead materials. The mental stuff that somehow emerges out of corporeal structures – is it always there, or does it come into being though the contact with some alchemic mixture? Random encounters, incidental conversations. The chemical compounds interacting and blending, producing a cloud of vapor, and a new emergent substance… No thoughts, no ideas, no feelings lie plainly on the surface. Those have to be grasped with claws, torn out of the flesh of time, snatched with a strong grip.

Two of them

January, random

January 1. Thoughts on the measurement of time

First of January. Yesterday people were so unanimously happy to celebrate another rotation of the planet around the sun. But the orbit circle doesn’t have neither beginning nor an end. Since the date is arbitrary, theoretically anyone can launch fireworks at any day to celebrate completion of the circle. And it’s alright because what we know for sure is that one day the orbit will start unwinding under the centrifugal force of a heat death disintegration. The years will become longer, seasons colder, stars more distant. Until nothing can hold together and there’s nothing else to celebrate with fireworks.

On Mercury, one year lasts 88 Earth days, while one day – 176 Earth days. Change of seasons is more frequent than the change of days and nights. The spring lasts shorter than one morning. Since all creatures are conditioned by their environment, what would the native inhabitants of Mercury do? Would they celebrate dusks and dawns more joyfully than the coming of new years? Planning morning coffee as thoroughly as Christmas parties?

It’s the new year, but fortunately there’s no need to start anything anew. Typical new year resolutions: commitment to the gym, proper nutrition, are so arbitrary in the proper hierarchy of priorities. Humans are pathetically corporeal, we’re no more than our tangible brain (and a thin symbolic layer on its top). Surely, the basic task is to at least make this tool functional (minding that a tool can only provide means, while goals lie somewhere else). So, 4 cycles of deep sleep per night to consolidate working memories, 70 min of rigorous physical activity per week to make blood circulate faster. What’s often overlooked though is that the main thing that keeps brain usable is the ceaseless learning. The weirder the subject, the better. Quine and the problem of rigid designators. Lebanese civil war. Symbol grounding. The tenets of Judaism. Perfection.

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