Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Public-Health Posters of the Late 18th Century #4

When people talk about "media-hyped moral panics of the 18th century", often the Evil Jesuit Menace of 1750-1753 comes to mind, or the Exotic Lithuanian Peril, or the lurid Affair of the Poisons (with E.T.A. Hoffmann's irresponsible journalism fueling the hysteria). But the Post-Humanism Panic of the 1780s has been expunged so thoroughly from popular memory that it might as well have never happened.

Wants to be a machine.
Long live the New Flesh!

At the time, though, when phi-fi writers like Diderot and Rousseau* were exploring the new genre of 'post-humanism', all the Serious Common-taters were tut-tutting about its effects on young readers. How could the ideal of Human Dignity flourish, they asked (loudly and repeatedly, oblivious to Mdm. de Staël's yawns and eye-rolling) when authors were glorifying prosthetic limbs and cyborg bodies?

Critics replied in vain that these were just hack writers, re-hashing tired old phi-fi tropes that went back at least to Brahe and his artificial-nose fantasy. The popular press blamed the foppish intellectual elite, reserving particular venom for Le Duq de Vaucanson.




In the end the alarmists had their way. The authorities paid for poster campaigns to convince the young peeps that consciousness was better when not downloaded into an "indiscreet jewel" or a Jacquard punch-card tapestry loom, and that an imperishable steam-powered replacement was no match for an organic body despite the latter's limitations.

* i.e. La Nouvelle Héloïse

19 comments:

merc said...

I see what you did there, it's alliteration week, am I right, am I right?

hytogica, just an excellent word really.

ckc (not kc) said...

...to convince the young peeps that consciousness was better when not downloaded...

ya see, that's where your problem is! [hitches pants, spits, scratches crotch] ...ya wanta cee-ef your teenage cromagnon larval theory!

Smut Clyde said...

Must credit R. A. Lafferty's "Frog on the Mountain" Theory.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

phi-fi

Well played... bravissimo!

Substance McGravitas said...

Wikipedia: "inheritance powders" (aka: poison).

The inheritance trebuchet is so much more satisfying.

fish said...

I eagerly await the steampunk hummel collection inheritance that is my birthright.

tigris said...

The inheritance trebuchet is so much more satisfying.

Harder to trick someone into eating, though.

fish said...

Is that a walking cannon in your pants or are you just glad to see me?

Whale Chowder said...

I'd totally date that babe in the red dress. I mean she literally comes with a flat place to put your beer!

Whale Chowder said...

Upon closer examination I see that what I thought was a tea service turns out to be, apparently, Rube Goldberg's pluming.

Date offer retracted. Unless the plumbing dispenses beer. Or 100% Agave Tequila.

Smut Clyde said...

New Zealand culture is still imprinted with the stamp of our erstwhile imperial oppressors, and so we talk about Heath Robinson contraptions rather than Rube Goldberg.
I don't know where the plumage comes into it.

merc said...

Sir Arthur Porrit knows.

merc said...

oops Sir Arthur Espie Porritt, Bt., GCMG, GCVO, CBE

antel, bad ant heaven

Another Kiwi said...

See, this my problem.
1) Plumage=Norwegian blue
2) Norwegian blue=Norwegian Black metal
3) Porrit=parrot

There's a friggin joke in there somewhere but I JUST CAN'T SEE IT!!!!

merc said...

The parrot is dead?

Another Kiwi said...

Ah, thankyou merc.
Yes folks it's the Norwegian Blackmetal parrot sketch, then eh?

merc said...

With the GG...he was a Baron too you know.

Smut Clyde said...

The parrot is dead

A spoiler alert would be nice.

merc said...

...yet the parrot is revived using the amazing affects known as reifying 4d, and there's more...I can say no more.

conidedi, end of falsehood