Sunday, 24 August 2014

Inner Change II

Poul Anderson, Brain Wave (London, 1977).

Earth passes out of an intelligence-inhibiting field. Within months, the suddenly more intelligent human race reorganizes global society and builds and launches a faster than light spaceship. Unintentionally, the two man crew flies back into the field, returns to their pre-change intelligence level and loses control of the ship which therefore flies on until fortunately it passes back out of the field. At that stage, "...the shock of re-emergence into full neural activity precipitat[es] the change which had been latent..." (p. 137).

I must paraphrase although it would be very easy simply to quote Poul Anderson's succinct prose. Instantly and painfully, the men's nervous systems flare back up to full intensity. Lewis collapses while Corinth experiences nausea, pounding heart and jerking muscles. However, with the full use of his brain restored, he wills calmness, slows his heart, relaxes his muscles and becomes fully self-aware. Seeing the Magellanic Clouds, the Coal Sack and the Andromeda nebula through the viewscreens, he estimates the direction of Sol and the time needed to find it. Realizing that emotion is a psychophysiological state that he should be able to control, he wills rage and grief out and calmness and determination in, then addresses the mathematical problem of the spaceship controls and turns the ship around.

He realizes that in him, as in everyone soon, intelligence, "...the self-created patterns of consciousness...," has won its struggle against instinct, "...the involuntary rhythm of organism..." (p. 137). Men will consciously select their desires and adjust their personalities:

no psychosomatic diseases;
control over organic disorders;
no more pain;
no need for doctors;
life spans of many centuries;
no senility -

- and, of course, Poul Anderson postulates faster than light interstellar travel as well.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    And, as you know, I'm skeptical of the likelihood of many, if any, of these "transhumanist" changes ever coming about. Largely because, as a Catholic, I believe the flaws we see in human beings has as well a supernatural aspect which can be healed only by divine grace and assistance, not merely by man's unaided efforts. I know, you don't agree! And, I'm not denying that SOME of what you listed above might be at least partially achieved.