Friday, March 30, 2012

a moon, worn as if it had been a shell

a moon, worn as if it had been a shell


The horror of eugenics. It's an outrage that seeps into my soul, for aren't we all flawed, and the crazy fantasy that it is good to reach perfection by eliminating anything that is not perfect is one way of annihilating us all, if not in fact then in spirit.



This is an accidental post as it turns out and one I had planned to remove until a few folks offered there comments on it. Then I decided to leave it as it stands but to emphasise the point that the title of this post belongs to the wonderful Elizabeth Aquino, whose blog by the same name is well worth visiting.

This post was intended as a comment on Elizabeth's post which she had left untitled. Something weird happened in cyberspace.

34 comments:

Birdie said...

Elisabeth, I wish I could make sense of the world. Some days I am amazed at how far we have come then other days I am disgusted to see we act like animals, going after the slow, weak and feeble. We are a world of bullies. Just look at all the popular TV programs on right now. Even they are about eliminating the weak. Our schools pay attention to the "smartest" and the "best athletes". Work place promote the top sellers, not employees who work towards ethics and morals.
My only answer is to teach our children (I am thinking globally) about love and acceptance. It is like fighting a forest fire with a teacup but we still need to make an effort. Other than that, I really don't know.

oceangirl said...

The movie Gattaca showed that human itself is flawed. We are too arrogant.

Windsmoke. said...

I recall Hitler tried selective breeding to create his super race of blonde haired, blue eyed people and anybody else who didn't measure up was chucked in the gas chambers and eliminated :-).

juliet said...

What a beautiful phrase about the moon. Perfection has many faces, not all of them easily recognised. The Turkish carpets are perfect because they always included a flaw.

Rob-bear said...

Well, haven't you got us into quite the conversation.

I recently gave a ethics presentation to some university researchers on cloning. In fact, they no longer call it cloning. These were not people interested in classic eugenics, but people looking at the basic science involved. And the implications of the science.

We are revisiting the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

Elisabeth said...

Your comment here says so much, Birdie, and I was only tying to reflect on Elizabeth Acquino's thoughts on her visit to the Holocaust museum, particularly on how the Nazis sought to eliminate the disabled.

I'm with you when it comes to a level at horror at the degree to which certain elements of the media enjoy portraying the vulnerability of others as a weakness.

It's all about humiliation in that regard and metaphorically reminds me of the gladiators, or of the idea of throwing christians to the lions. Clearly it's been going on for centuries.

You'd think we have learned better by now, and in some ways we have, but not enough.

Thanks, Birdie.

Elisabeth said...

Arrogance lies at the heart of it, Fazlisa, arrogance and its flip side impotence. The truth is we are all somewhere in between but it's all too easy to slide between the extremes.

Thanks, Ocean girl.

Elisabeth said...

That's exactly what we're referring to, Windsmoke, we two Elizabeths, one with an 's' the other with a 'z', but Elizabeth Aquino started it all. see : http://elizabethaquino.blogspot.com.au/

Thanks, Windsmoke.

Elisabeth said...

That beautiful expression is borrowed from Elizabeth Aquino's blog, Juliet and she borrowed it from elsewhere. I can't quite remember now but she will tell you if you ask. Hers is a powerful blog and indirectly I feel the need to put in a plug for her blog because I inadvertently borrowed her blog name without acknowledgement. And her post is powerful, timely and significant .

Thanks, Juliet.

Elisabeth said...

We live in interesting times indeed, Rob -bear. All this talk of cloning and its links, dangerous links to eugenics.

Ah for a brave new world -hopefully one that can tolerate human frailty.

Thanks, Rob-bear.

cheshire wife said...

Sometimes accidents are a happy mistake.

aguja said...

I just can't bear to even think. It is beyond my comprehension. How can a person not see that there is beauty in that which is flawed and an individual power. To be perfect is to be nothing .... in my view.

Ms. Moon said...

There is no one on this earth like Elizabeth and the way she writes about her daughter, her sons, never fails to make stop and think, wonder, ponder, sometimes cry.
She is an amazing woman. I am glad you introduced some of your readers to her.

Art Durkee said...

This came across as a prose-poem, even if it was accidental. It's a mode I like to see from you, the more overtly poetic. Can we see it more often?

I don't believe in accidents or coincidence. I believe in synchronicities. Sometimes when an accident happens like this, its really the unconscious parts of the self speaking up.

Wadjella Yorga said...

there is perfection in our imperfection

and my heart has wept an ocean for the impact of this sadoscience, so visible in the land down under, children stolen from their families, men, women and children shot for sport, fed poisoned flour, identified as flora and fauna...

as we hurtle into the transhuman era we run the very real risk of losing our souls unless we learn from our past

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do agree Elizabeth but I would just say that here in the uK I do feel that there is more acceptance of the educationally less able than there used to be. Some Downs Syndrome childred now attend main schools and that is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, so glad you cleared that one up Elisabeth.
a) I'd never heard the word eugenics before and thought you were using it as a filter for your less cerebral readers (me, perhaps?)
b) For the first time since reading your blog I had nothing to say!
Now that I have learnt a bit about it (thanks for the prompt) I wonder what Hitler would make of the term 'dumb blonde' and all the ensuing jokes.
(I actually thought the title was something I had read in a poem somewhere - I s'pose I could google that, too)
Hope this little oops doesn't make you too gun-shy with future posts.
Karen C

Elizabeth said...

Thank you, Elisabeth! How weird and wonderful that this mix-up has happened. The line "a moon, worn as if it had been a shell" is from a W.B. Yeats poem titled "Adam's Curse."

Snowbrush said...

My first thought is that, well, if it could eliminate arthritis....

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The title reminded me of a poem by Sara Teasdale:

Moon's Ending

Moon, worn thin to the width of a quill,
In the dawn clouds flying,
How good to go, light into light, and still
Giving light, dying.

Laoch of Chicago said...

The unintended consequences of the sonnenkinders has always frightened me.

Jim Murdoch said...

An odd thing, when I started to read this post the first thing that jumped to my mind were the Eugenics Wars that are a part of the Star Trek backstory and from there to the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman and from there to the veritable pantheon of godlike superheroes that inhabited the pages of American comics. Enhanced humans are everywhere in sci-fi; we do love our ubermen. Interestingly when Jerry Siegel first created Superman he was originally a villain modelled on Nietzsche's idea. Only after Shuster re-invented him did he start to look like the Superman we know and love but even then his morals were on the dubious side.

Eugenics was apparently still a legitimate field study till the 1970s. It’s a touchy subject. In the USA where some states require a blood test (to test for STDs) before marriage some couple will voluntarily test for other diseases and genetic incompatibilities. Harris polls in 1986 and 1992 recorded majority public support for limited forms of germ-line intervention, especially to prevent "children inheriting usually fatal genetic disease". If that’s not a form of eugenics I don’t know what is and, of course, in utero screening is commonplace these days. I’ve heard some people argue that taking control like this is just a form of human evolution and, as I’ve said, science fiction is full of cases where people have gone to extreme lengths to increase their lifespan. Usually these improvements are mechanical and for a while a cyborg was seen as the cool thing to want to be. But as genetic engineering infiltrates our lives more and more I honestly only see it as a matter of time before we shuffle into some version of Brave New World or Gattaca. Gattaca (the acronym for Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, Thymine, Adenine, Cytosine, Adenine (DNA)), is all about something called Genism, the theory that distinctive human characteristics and capacities are determined by genes, and there are laws in force even now, e.g. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, designed to prohibit the use of genetic information in health insurance and employment but there have been laws against lots of things that are no longer deemed unlawful and just because there are laws doesn’t mean that employers aren’t doing their best to circumvent them. According to Wikipedia Genetically Modified foods (GM foods) were first put on the market in 1996 but if you think about it farmers have been modify food organisms for centuries by means of selective breeding and crosspollination.

As the world’s population increases it’s only logical that Man uses his skills to eke out what we have (ethics be damned when people’s survival instinct kick in). At the moment we live in enlightened times and make room for the differently abled as we like to call the disabled these days, at least if we’re trying to be politically correct. You and I won’t live to see how the future pans out but the sad fact is that more dystopian fiction is being written now than ever before and the real question is only which one will be closest to the truth.

Elisabeth said...

A happy mistake indeed. Thanks Cheshire Wife.

Elisabeth said...

Your words here bear repeating, Aguja: 'there is beauty in that which is flawed and an individual power. To be perfect is to be nothing...'

Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

It was by accident, Ms Moon, though as others have pointed out it was a happy accident, and I'm glad that others might have been led to read Elizabeth's powerful wonderful and heartfelt writing, especially in relation to how we as a society tend to disparage our disabled. It has a long long history.

Thanks, Ms Moon

Elisabeth said...

It's not the first time I've made a comment that comes across as having a poetic ring, Art. I wish I could produce such words at will, but I cannot. They seem to come to me only as a result of what you call happy syncronicities.

Thanks, Art.

Elisabeth said...

I agree Wadjella Yorga, we need to learn from our pasts or as you say we risk the possibility of losing our humanity, that which distinguishes us from the inanimate world.

Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

Things might be better in the UK for some, Pat and I'm glad for them but overall I suspect the situation in Australia and elsewhere throughout there world is one of disregard at best or at worst utter contempt for those who suffer significant disabilities. It's something we need to rectify ad Elizabeth's blog goes some way towards alerting us to this.

Thanks, Pat.

Elisabeth said...

As Elizabeth has pointed out for us, the words of the title here come from W.B. Yeats poem titled "Adam's Curse." I'm glad you are not now speechless given the way this post came about.

Thanks, Karen.

Elisabeth said...

I'm glad you understand, Elizabeth. I felt terrible when I realised what I'd done. At first I thought my computer might have had a virus and that comments meant for your blog were coming to mine. It was weird.

Thanks for understanding.

Elisabeth said...

Tongue in cheek, Snow? At least, I hope your tongue is in your cheek. We are not talking cure here. We are talking extermination not of a part but of the whole.

Thanks, Snow.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for sharing this most beautiful poem, Glenn. I hear the shared resonances.

Elisabeth said...

The idea of the sonnenkinder is a scary thought, Laoch, however much it might be based on a conspiracy to perpetuate fear.

These fears tend to emerge out of terrible truths. I also think they're designed to perpetuate fear and as such they may be dangerous. But you never know.

Thanks, Laoch.

Elisabeth said...

Scary thoughts, Jim: a dystopian world in which only the 'ideal' survives. And yet we all know we need the imperfections to be creative and to develop new ideas and strains.

I don't know much about eugenics myself nor of the science fiction approaches to such a brave new world but I think of Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' and I shudder.

I hope ethics and due consideration for human values of compassion and respect continue to get consideration as we advance into an otherwise scary future.

Thanks, Jim.