Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Transhumanism in KidLit, and The Giver Trailer, What Gives?

So I came across an unusual book a few days ago online. In opposition to my recent post on reflections on, acceptance of, and recovering from loss/death, a transhumanist author--Gennady Stolyarov--has penned a children's book titled Death is Wrong. I know this is a niche book, catering to a particular small audience, but it intrigued me nonetheless, and troubled me as well. While the transhumanist movement and goal for singularity can make sense of our increasingly science-fiction world with its rapidly growing technologies, I see problems with articulating the wrongness of death; in a recent Slate article, Joelle Renstrom writes that,
Representing death as wrong gives it greater power, especially when people do die. If death is wrong, are people who die bad, or are they victims of an obsolete paradigm? Either way, making peace with death would be particularly challenging. Kids could grow up not just afraid of death, but also afraid of failing to fix it. Stolyarov makes death a powerful nemesis that could rule their lives—just as it’s ruled his.
The notion of immortality becomes a fact rather than a concept; to present that to a young mind, a nascent consciousness, does not bode well for their development. Before I start spewing all of my thoughts and critiques on the subject, I need to read a little more on this philosophy. But I welcome any thoughts from those more familiar with this. What good can transhumanism offer people, adults, children? I'm constantly reminded of the immortal Peter Pan. *shudders* Has it made entrance into other children's books? Will it? 

On another note, the first movie trailer for The Giver was just released, and my initial reaction was, Color? Seriously? I had some other initial qualms, including the shift from pills to needles (are we afraid to see a reflection of how medicated our youth are? Does having them pop pills on screen as opposed to receiving shots allot them too much agency and make the viewer uncomfortable? Or are needles just scarier?) and the ... entire end shot. As trailers usually go, there is a lot in here meant to confuse us, meant to appear not as it will be in the film, but for a story that is dark, abstract, and searingly poignant, this adaptation looks to be going down the Hunger Games and Divergent track.

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