Friday, 3 October 2008

The Men Who Stare at Goats

This book, which was also a series on Channel 4 (Crazy Rulers of the World), is about to be adapted into a film starring George Clooney. Still not having read Mind Wars, I'm unable to see if there is any mutual referencing by the respective authors. What is clearer though is how many of the themes are consonant with Nick Turse's The Complex.
With regard to Turse, I was particularly taken by the biological applications of the research he discussed, for example, tampering with the brains of dolphins so they could track enemy vessels while remaining unobserved. But it worries me that transhumanists taken by Peter Singer's ideal of extending the moral circle to the animal kingdom through enhancement, do not appear to weigh into consideration the possible incorporation of such into military science (perhaps one day even as combatants). Furthermore, even if never ultimately realised for militaristic ends, is it still desirable to sanction the research in the first place, given the myriad other abuses that could potentially follow on? (I don't need to spell it out, but anyone who has read Singer's "Heavy Petting" essay can guess how this might extend to incorporation into the sexual marketplace) In any case, a science fiction precedent for some of Turse's military concerns can easily be found, and not only in the corporation Weyland Yutani from the Alien series, who were developing their bioweapons division.

Equally fascinating, and staying with the biological theme, is this discussion of how the current dominance of biopsychiatry attests to how psychiatry used to be brainless, but has since become mindless. This theme is more familiar though, given the work of Foucauldians such as Nikolas Rose. But nothing can match the bizarre characters featured in the following clip from Crazy Rulers of the World. Later episodes, which have disappeared from Google video unfortunately, detail the implications for the so-called War on Terror [sic], including interrogation techniques practised at Guantanamo Bay.

No comments: