mad science

Mad Science

Posted on

It’s 1:30 AM, and I am reading a Charles Stross novel through a tiny monitor hovering precariously in front of my face.

I do not know what convinced me to illicitly load a copy of Kindle Cloud Reader onto Google Glass. At first glance, it didn’t seem like a sane idea: I expected the font to be terribly maladjusted, the display to contort itself awkwardly, and the viewer to spin 90 degrees on its side, as if I was attempting to divine the complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer from a bowl of alphabet soup stapled to my face. But after a few burps and hiccups, it works startlingly well, offering its now-sepia-on-black rendered text in crystal clear, paragraph-length bites. I click a small mouse in my right palm to turn each page; they haven’t gotten the input model down for this app just yet.

Most readers have probably noticed that I’m a huge nerd. It’s actually a bit more than that: I’m a posthumanist mad scientist.

I’m not saying this because I’m evil, build deadly robots, or have an iron-clad plan to take over the world (though that would be incredibly cool). A more useful metaphor might be one of the Red Mage: I dabble in the margins, connecting the disparate sciences together to see what sticks, without the devotion of complete study. The results are oddball, bizarre, and categorically insane, and I have journals, disks, and reams of unsorted media filled to the brim with experiments and thought logs.

This dabbler mindset is incredibly useful, because my diverse creative interests gives me good predictions of what people will invent next. It also gives me tremendous versatility, which I find value in every single day. But, it also results in shallowness and lack of depth for any specific topic. For this reason, I rarely clear the top rungs of any given vocation. (If I somehow do so accidentally, I will actually move on, so I can keep learning.)

I’m this way, in part, because I greatly enjoy being a tourist in any given field. I especially enjoy the process of rapid study and reverse engineering; to me, it’s a puzzle. To a lesser extent, this tourism writ large has generated in me an obsession with creative autonomy and self-sufficiency that gives me this strangely seductive sense of ownership over the bizarre ideas that pass between my ears.

I call myself a posthumanist mad scientist because, while so many of my projects are whimsical and short-lived, this agenda isn’t: I have a long-standing goal to transcend humanity. Maybe it’s strange that this is so immutable and matter-of-fact for me. This manifests itself as small snatches of disconnected ideas and obsessions about virtual worlds, augmented reality software, and modes of expression that let me be the charming, shiny creature that I wish to be. But they want for more cohesion, which I suppose I’m working on.

I’m not really going anywhere with this, I just wanted to share. Even though tinkering with technology and ideas is what I do, it feels so far off the right end of self-actualization that it makes me deeply self-conscious. I guess I’m still figuring out how to manage that.