On Directing Human Evolution
It all started with a sneeze. I was twelve.
“You can’t sneeze with your eyes open,” they said.
“Says who?” I considered.
Indeed, “Who is this authority that demands the erosion of my will?” has remained the preeminent combative mantra concerning my ontology, psychology, social behavior, and spirituality.
For some reason, when I hear phrases such as, “That’s just the way it’s done”; “No one does that“; or, “You should do this,” I always wonder, so what? Says who?
For example, morality has historically hedged in and edged out human behavior. But upon realization that all morals are self-imposed and totally within our ability to create and recreate, we realize both the power in our creativity and our stark freedom.
So who will challenge other historically accepted human limitations, such as those seemingly “involuntary” physiological processes such as sneezing, heart beating, breathing?
Fifteen years ago my mother and I were chatting after telling her I wanted to try sneezing with my eyes open. Gratefully, I felt a sneeze coming on nearly an hour later, and right in the middle of our conversation my eyes bulged wide as I sneezed.
I had done it. My mother laughed—likely because I looked silly in trying. But I had won. I had proven “them” wrong.
It’s an experience such as this that lead me to test the limits of individual human potential through introspection coupled with a skeptical nature concerning what has already occurred, or failed to occur in human history. This inward focus masquerades as selfishness to some, but, as St. Edwards University professor Eamonn Healy notes in the following clip from Waking Life, human evolution has been predominantly collective—not individual.
Ever since overcoming that supposed truth that it is impossible to sneeze with eyes open, I have flirted—mostly unsuccessfully—with stretching the limits of individual ability, from psychokinesis to the transferrence of consiousness (something I’ve tried since I was about ten years old).
Yet just because such efforts are largely unsuccessful, it does not follow of necessity that individual—or perhaps especially collective—efforts to stretch human ability won’t net their appearance later down the evolutionary line.
Although I’ve read somewhere (and can’t for the life of me recall where) that human evolution has stopped because we have reached the point where humans are able to exercise dominion over the Earth through technologic advancement, there yet lingers some unwavering desire that we are able to advance our inner ability in a similar fashion by sprouting new psychic limbs, as it were.
In closing, following is my prologue to neohumanism:
Most personal discovery, methinks, is only REdiscovery. Our most intimate moments are but the tired tales told so often for so long. Yea, even such occupy the majority of our lives. It is one thing to savor small successes, but who will advance the standard? It appears most are content to strap in to the same ride: the same lows, the same highs.
Are these tracks fixed, or can we break free and fly?
Let us not merely reflect some trite past; let us not remain content with inadequate personal pleasures; rather, let us redouble our efforts towards plastering our present history with tales of those who pursued higher ideals, with those who were not satisfied to sing the same songs. Stagnation, passivity, regression—all are disservices to our predecessors whose efforts have netted us the highest evolutionary advantages to date.
Let us aspire to and achieve something new…