include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for Hannibal Lecter: Transhumanist Icon by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Hannibal Lecter

Transhumanist Icon

by

Roger Williams

☼☼☼

Originally published on kuro5hin.org

©June 2005; 2013; 2018

Cover Design ©2018 Peachfront Press

☼☼☼

It's one of the oldest and most enduring of human dreams the drive to become like gods. But the gods don't necessarily share our morals. After all, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is the complete and unedited text of the original 2005 article that sparked a thousand debates, now reformatted for the device of your choice for easy reading.

Publisher's Note

Long-time followers of localroger may remember a waggish little article called, Hannibal Lecter: Transhumanist Icon. In Roger's words, "[N]ew technologies will make people so intelligent, powerful, healthy, and long-lived that we will not be merely human any more; we will transcend what is commonly called the human condition and become something more like gods...[It's an] old dream of ours, and some of our brightest thinkers have tried to imagine it for us. Come with me on a slightly different reading of a character you've probably already met...”

Some were outraged, some delighted. Either way, we all agree on one thing. The drive to become like the gods is one of the oldest and most enduring of human dreams.

But the gods don't necessarily share our morals. After all, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The theme of humanity stepping over the line is dear to the heart of true science fiction fans. It has launched a million books and movies, starting with the iconic Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In SF, the classic phrase is, “There are some things man was not meant to know.”

If you knew them, experienced them, acted on them... you would no longer be human.

At the time of the original 2005 publication, there are much back and forth in the community about whether Roger should have used the term, “transhuman.” People made a reasonable argument that the word, “posthuman” might have been more appropriate. Perhaps, but meh. The picking of nits entirely misses the point.”

As one observer noted:

[I]t appears to me that we're working the angle that transhumans could completely abandon conventional notions of morality... [allowing them to] engage in cannibalism as mentioned in the case of Hannibal Lecter.
A more obvious angle is that many of the rules, even some of core rules of human morality, benefit the people who make the rules. A specific example is that a human life has more value than a nonhuman life. But in the world of the near future that may be turned on its head. Namely, a transhuman (who probably would be considered ‘nonhuman’) may genuinely be more valuable than a human life. More generally, the laws and codes of humanity society tend to favor the elite humans of that society...[Transhumans] might also obtain the power to change the rules.”

Watch out!

To some, it seems unnatural, perhaps even unfair, that an objectively “evil” person might achieve godhood more easily than the rest of us. Certainly the character of Hannibal will live long after many a namby-pamby movie and television hero has been long forgotten. But what price immortality?

As I wrote at the time, “You won't become a God by pulling out your credit card and attending a few drumming ceremonies. The personality has to be completely broken down, shattered, and then the pieces put back together into the new shape. Some, maybe most, of the personalities who undergo the experience won't survive. There's no free ride to Godhood. Most people who look it over decide that the small chance that they'll make it through the entire initiation process and become as a God isn't worth the risk.”

Hannibal dared greatly, or at least his creator did.

Because of the enduring interest expressed in this little essay, we have chosen to reformat it for easy reading on modern devices.

Author's Note

In certain circles you hear the word, “transhumanism” a lot lately. This is the idea that new technologies will make people so intelligent, powerful, healthy, and long-lived that we will not be merely human any more; we will transcend what is commonly called the “human condition” and become something more like gods.

Of course it's very difficult to imagine what it would be like to become something so much better and different than ourselves. But it's also an old dream of ours, and some of our brightest thinkers have tried to imagine it for us. Come with me on a slightly different reading of a character you've probably already met: One of the most well known and yet clearly transhuman characters in modern literature is Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer who has now appeared in three novels [editor's note: now four] by Thomas Harris.


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-3 show above.)