Our Mutant Lives

Laxatives, bone powder, and chocolatey paste in the power bars. Puberty at age 8 (for girls, anyway). We’re very mutable creatures. Not enough people will ever die from eating too many meal supplements to move us all to a crunchy diet, and with puberty, after all, the onset of full participation in sex means full participation in the market.

Childhood is increasingly an impediment to Meeting the Challenges and Opportunities of Today. So is eating natural foods — a burden that yuppies enjoy converting into a luxury. Everyone knows that the advent of cloning would radically transform human life, but my Aristotelian friends already must contend with the more practical problem that we can live unhealthy, ‘unnatural’ lives with pretty good success. On the one hand this means daring to let new castes develop in democratic society; on the other, it heightens the strangeness of our popular social creed concerning pain.

Suffering seems to have retained aesthetic criteria even after moving out of religious categories of the sacred. Our great queasiness and outrage at cruelty, for instance, belies a tolerance for the anxiety, the costs, and the growing pains of our mutant lives.