Spacejump isn’t about tech progress. It is about male enhancement.

Cross-posted to Underthinking.

I know I’ve posted recently do DiffEng, but Spacejump is too timely so I couldn’t resist.

If you haven’t heard, Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a space balloon from 120,000 feet in the sky down to earth under the watchful audience of 8 million YouTube viewers.

DA Banks asks in The Society Pages

Why is a man jumping from the edge of space when we still rely on 18th century energy sources and can’t build a train network as advanced as the one we had a hundred years ago?

He then suggests that, following David Graeber, it might be

that existing bureaucratic systems under corporate capitalism are not up to the job of creating immortality drugs or colonies on Mars because huge disparities in wealth and power make it too cheap and easy to clean our homes and build our iPhones with cheap labor instead of robots. 

In the Tweet economy, I have made my response just a bit provocative but allow me to explain. Shortly after spacejump, Paolo Coelho tweeted this, which someone else commemorated on a meme-able image (below): “Never accept your limitations — because there are NO limitations. Viva Felix!” Spacejump, to me, seems to captivate people because it is an extreme form of personal technology. It creates the individual who can overcome all through technological and psychological breakthroughs. It is about remaking and bolstering the individual, the main thing we pay attention to in these days of entrepreneurial individualism, positive psychology, self-improvement, Ayn Randian ethics, or choose-your-individualism. The infrastructures DA Banks talks about are investments in the shared underpinnings of social collectivity — railways, standards, colonies (let’s not repeat colonialism though, thx). Social collectivities — the welfare state, the big society, the other America, unions — are things that don’t arouse passions, votes, and dollars that spas, coaches, and entrepreneurship do.

This is why I say spacejump is in part about male enhancement. It takes the (still) de facto (assumed to be) strongest, fastest, best kind of human and then enhances him to achieve what was beyond our wildest dreams.

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3 Responses
  1. Zinc says:

    It’s interesting how people are viewing Hello Kitty in Space differently.
    (see this video:)
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/02/todays-inspiring-aerospace-news-hello-kitty-touches-the-face-of-god/272831/

    I thought this 13-year old’s science project was fascinating and fun and didn’t cathect narratives of male enhancement or scientific conquering of fallibility. Or am I just being mushy about hello kitty, an outdated pop cultural icon?

  2. Lilly says:

    Wow! This is pedagogical magic! Comedy. It’s like 10 dissertations in 30 minutes (when done well)

    The Six Sigmas, including male enhancement, from 30 rock have been uploaded as a clip on vimeo!

  3. Zinc says:

    Leadership culture = “teamwork, insight, brutality, male enhancement, handshakefulness, and play-hard.” (from 30 Rock)