Jacques Dufresne – What Am I Skating Towards? The Hill of Life

Here is Jacques Dufresne's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?

                                                                     The Hill of Life

JacquesMY CONCERN THIS YEAR is the threat to the frail, imperfect, but rich, vibrant and organic life of humans, of communities and of nature, a threat that comes from the very forces we have engaged to preserve and perfect life: mechanical efficiency and formal systems.

There can be no doubt about the benefits of science and technology in support of life and in service to humans. So we come to think and to accept that technology will solve and cure everything; that it has the power to correct and expand life, and, ultimately, that it has a life of its own: that what is technically feasible is by that very fact necessary and inevitable. This is why we fail to notice when technology ceases to serve and when it starts to transform us in its likeness. The loss of the soul is painless.

Without noticing it we lose our vitality and begin to function rather than to live. Instead of being alerted to our soul’s decline we become more machine-like. And one day, it is too late, too late to go back to life, too late to once again become autonomous. We are on an irreversible trend… at a high human and financial cost.

Thus food becomes fuel; we gain the convenience of filling the tank at our convenience, but lose the rhythms and rituals of the table that made for sociability. Play becomes performance; teams of experts push athletes beyond their given limits, but the joy and the natural ripening of their gift is lost. Farming becomes food production; and we gain in yields for a time, but wear out the soil with increasing quantities of additives, rather than treat it like the living resource it is. Our spirits become moods to be curbed or flattened with drugs; even desire can be manipulated with a sufficient dose of viagra. An immortality of sorts awaits us, or so we are told, by the transfer of our brain circuits onto a hard disk— if we can be convinced that our mind and our brain circuitry are the same.

What these developments share in common is the reduction of life to its formal, numerical, digital dimensions in a world of virtual contacts. Has the living and breathing homo sapiens — call him homo vivens — become an endangered species, about to be replaced by homo computens in the same way that homo sapiens once replaced Neanderthal man ? What is endangered is the very life in us. What gets lost when life is reduced to its machinery is creativity, presence, participation.

We are inviting you to join the editors of L’Encyclopédie de l’Agora and their friends in creating an international movement in defense of homo vivens. Humans make humans human, not machines.

Jacques Dufresne is a farmer, author and philosopher, alas better known and more influential in Quebec and the French speaking world than in English speaking Canada. He hosts L’Encyclopédie de l’Agora one of the most popular French speaking websites in the world.

Note: I release individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012?  on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Gordon Hogg, Caroline Casey, Arthur Wood and many others. You can access the accumulated essays here.

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