ben moretti on Tue, 2 Apr 2002 03:19:44 +0200 (CEST)

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Mobile Lamarkian Thumbs (was: Re: <nettime> Plant's Cant)

On Sunday, March 31, 2002, at 08:59  AM, wrote:

> the products we are encouraged to consume at ever increasing rates will
> make us superior human beings (suggested in her views on how using cell
> phones make us have better thumbs) and the reports of independent
> organizations on the toxic effects of electronics on laborers.

Another comment on this by now tired thread: We seem to have a set of
arguments that veer toward the Lamarkian, namely that individuals can pass
on acquired characteristics as part of their genome. This is of course an
incorrect viewpoint, as Soviet farmers following Lysenko (?)  would
attest. Read up anything about the theories of Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744
- 1892) compared to modern evolutionary theory to follow up on this.

What interests me however is that Geert was talking about the social
Darwinism of the Dot Com Bubble in his interview with Paulina Borsook,
which got me thinking about Lamark.

Coco and Curt made comment on the fact that the Western teenagers with
mobile phones have acquired flexible thumbs as part of using mobile phones
for SMS messages, while those impoverished Southern undermench who
manufacture the PCBs and chips are exposed to mutagenic chemicals.

The emphasis in much of the media on the former seems to favour a
Lamarkian perspective, namely that technology is changing us, not just as
individuals, but also as a species, as we are going to inherit the
beneficial characteristics developed whilst engaging in this very modern
and technoeuphoric behaviour. There seems to be an unstated value in the
virtue of technology and the benevolence it has towards us. However the
latter point, of mutagenic chemicals, is more ironic. These people may
pass on an altered genome, due to direct exposure to mutagens, but will
not acquire the flexible thumbs of bourgeois teenagers. So they are the
ones being subject to true Darwinian evolutionary factors that will affect
them as a population.

Lamarck had a second theory to his inheritance of acquired
characteristics, namely the Universal Creative Principle, which posited
"an unconscious striving upward on the Scala Naturae that moved every
living creature toward greater complexity" driven of course by the Deity.
I imagine the similarities are obvious.

It is again ironic the view of some that those people who work making
PCBs, and are exposed to mutagens, can be abandoned to the Darwinian
forces of the global free market and will pass on mutations and birth
defects to their children, but those bright shining flexible thumbed
bourgeois teenagers in the Lamarkian camp will move ever upwards on the
Scala Naturae.


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