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A resounding “Meh.”
surreality, chameleons in space!, space
saxifrage00
So it’s the anniversary of the moon landings. Am I the only one who’s reaction is firstly “meh,” and secondly, “well, bloody lot we’ve managed to do since then, isn’t it?”

Am I supposed to be impressed that we hit the moon in 1969 and have done jack all to get us into space since? It’s actually rather depressing.

Less sardonically facetious, I’m not all that about the landing’s anniversary, but I do look around at current efforts and have to feel like we’re in a much less imaginative age. We’re making great strides with electronics and communications technology here on Earth, and that’s cool and stuff, but it won’t do us much good when we overcrowd the planet. We’re way behind the curve for getting into space. China has a space program now, to get out there and off the planet, and I’m pleased—someone needs to do it. Bush has the imagination and vision of a spirochete when you put him beside Kennedy, and the Democrats are trying to ape him and the Republicans so much that it’s laughable that NASA will ever regain the peak that they reached with Apollo 11.

A resounding “Meh.”

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You can find the perpetuating-your-genes theme in most things if you look deep enough, yes. You can find the cycle, birth-death-gone theme in most things if you look for them, too-- in genes, in populations, in species, just as much as anywhere. If you choose to focus on one, yes, you can find that one on any example.

The thing is, life's greater than the sum of its parts on every level. The selfish-genes thing is not likely to be a paradigm that continues forever, even in science. Already it's starting to be antiquated, we begin to see self-sacrificing behaviours (in the individual and the species level) and we see no real 'return' on the value that we've figured out yet. Perhaps they help keep the system stable, which preserves the genes of everything within it? C'est possible. Is a crocodile 'more sucessful' than a human for having retained an apparently stable geneset longer? A bacteria? But wait, you're speaking only of life that makes it beyond the universe, not longer on any shorter scale.

I've read the Selfish Gene, it doesn't make me an expert by any means, but the 'apparent altruistic behaviours' in there don't even begin to scratch the surface of what was discovered since it was written.

Getting on life's bandwagon in your genetic sense would involve doing a lot of things I'm quite happy not to do, and many I'd rather not see happen. Luckily, for me, I've already fulfilled my life-linked goal (existing, which is the point, and I have thus participated, which gives me meaning, and so it's good that I exist) and so I can get down to human goals that might not be linked to this gene thing. Be nice to people? Be nice to plants? Be mean to people I don't like? Those are all divorced, set in a seperate sphere that is removed from 'real' morality, and lives in the 'human-created' morality where my gut feeling and my for-the-best-of-all join together to make a gloriously complicated and unintelligible mismash of 'shoulds' and 'should-nots'.

So yes, society as a greater-than-the-sum-of-people? Definitely. Definitely. More worthwhile, because it's greater? Eh. It's enough, more is neat and wonderful but not the point, it's just gravy. But yeah, that's life expanding into (Dawkins-type) memespace for you, propagating like crazy.

And again, I have to restate-- I don't believe there has to be a goal to be meaning.

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