By HERVÉ FISHER
Darwin’s law of natural selection published some 150 years ago proposed a surprising and evidently fundamental discovery and explanation of the Origin of species and their evolution. But this law for sure cannot explain that the human species, which is the most recent of mammals according to experts, has succeeded to mute so quickly and to outrun all other live species thanks to the development of its brain up to the point which we observe today.
Since primates have come down of the trees, as a matter of fact, they have lost their tail. This is an evident example of that Darwin called pertinently the law of selective adaptation. But even if Darwin underlined with accuracy that only a minority of individuals were able to survive, thanks to genetic accidents favouring their capacity of adapting themselves to quick changes of their environment and therefore to survive and to transmit their modified genes to the next generation of the species, Darwin’s law and explanation encounter evident limits. As a matter of fact, we observe dramatic ruptures in the history of our human physiology and behaviour. We have to admit the evidence of biological mutations, which occurred in the evolution of the human species, many times more than in any other animal species. We have to acknowledge the evidence of a process of acceleration based on decisive mutations, such as vertical walking or the development of our brain foremost physical strength, wings or sensorial perceptions. And this process of evolution seems to have accelerated. These mutations multiply exponentially since a century, in our demographic shock, in the increase of our instrumental power thanks to technoscience. There is no doubt that nowadays the digital age means an anthropological revolution or mutation.
In this sense, Darwin’s Law of adaptation sounds poor and unable to explain the accelerated evolution of the human species. Only the Law of divergence, which we propose to consider here, may reflect such radical mutations. The human being is not limited to adaptation. He thinks and develop projects, consider dangerous utopias, which may even put him and the whole planet at risk. He is not only adapting himself, he is doing much more, crating himself by rejecting admitted evidences, he diverges, he projects and he proclaims that an other world is possible. He develops alternative scenarios of life far from a simple adaptation. He tries, on the contrary to escape any determination. We just have to evocate the history of science, technology, religions and even politics to be obliged to admit the evidence of the Law of divergence. The example of Darwin’s genius and theory, diverging from religious religion, speaks by itself in favour of divergence. Art history is a history of divergence proclaimed by audacious creators confronted to the risk of failure, social reprobation and even madness. Only the Law of divergence may tell us of the history of science, founded on a succession of dialectic negations of its established truths, which have allowed it to progress. The human being is able to intend ideas, to conceive hypothesis, to mute. We encounter here the very concept of Mutamorphosis, on which we focus in this congress of Prague. It seems that the Law of changing is linked not only to vital constraints, but first and foremost to the creation of new formulations of life, to our interest for alternative myths and visions, which emerge of our powerful imagination and creation, and imply that we are precisely able to escape to trivial adaptation, as it is institutionalized and celebrated by the majority of the group. In few words: a minority of us make the evolution real by preferring and opting for the instinct of desire and for a promethean instinct of creation, rather than for the principle of reality. And these marginal individuals accept the risk of reprobation by the majority, and the immediate consequences of it. This Law could be formulated as such (1):
LAW OF DIVERGENCE:
Changing is not created by the point of view of passive majorities, but on the contrary, by the alternative projects of minorities or atypical active individuals.
In the same way, the collective memory does not preserve foremost widespread productions, but on the contrary the very rare.
Finally the exception always tends to prevail and impose its new law.
Considering the relationships between social groups, we observe that ethnic, politic, economical, classes’, castes’ conflicts tend to favour and deepen social and ideological changes. Wars and revolutions are main rupture and mutation factors. Atypical and minority individuals tend to prevail upon majorities and to mainly activate the evolution of the human species. How do we explain that the exception usually is more determinant that the majority? We have first to admit that it does not happen so often, but it is the only and very factor of change.
MYTHOANALYSIS OF LIMITS
As a result we must here rehabilitate the power of imagination, its creative power, which allow us to transgress the limits of religious beliefs and even of rationalism (postrationalism), enabling us to create new visions of life, of the universe, and even of ethics and our social values and institutions. Therefore it appears necessary to question the nature of these limits, which we perceive and intend to overcome in our creative attempts.
Without denying the reality of physical or chemical limits, and accordingly of biological and cognitive limits, we would like to explore the imaginary nature of these limits, beyond which we believe that we cannot perceive, think, imagine anymore space, time, universe, life. Do we encounter there limits of our nature – which may however be very relative – or mythical limits, linked to extreme fantasies such as those of Babel Tower, and which we may call li-myths. We have to consider this question.
Mythoanalysis consists in the analysis of those myths, which structure our social imaginaries, and allow the metaphoric evocation of images in our languages, our artistic and scientific theories, styles and visualizations.
Confronting theses extremes of this topology of the limits, we may reach again and again the sensitive area between chaos and cosmos, where we situate our desires of alchemic transmutations and artistic creations, among them bioart, transgenic art, transhuman and transplanetary projects, where our exploratory fascination for time and space, for artificial life, memory and intelligence, for extreme thinking may increase.
Admitting the Law of divergence, we feel more confident to explore the mutations which have made the human species what it is today.
We have probably here to underline the strength of CyberPrometheus (2), our instinct of power and creation, which stimulate us since the Greek founding of the Occident, and push us to overcome the extremes limits alike forbidden limits. The Verb, for now on, is ours, the human beings (3), who engage art and science to compete today into a strong desire of new geneses at the ridge of chaos – a will which has dramatically increased since the emergence and empowerment of digital technologies.
But this exacerbation is not completely new. It has started a few years ago and we are now prepared. To mention here are Melevitch’s suprematism, Yves Klein’s exhibition of emptiness, or its jump into it, and its painting with fire, when he tries to capture the cosmic energies into his absolute blue pigments. Creation implies frequently destruction of an established style, of human figure, of logics, of the frame, of the canvas, of objects, of the body, and even of art itself. We observe that contemporary art intents to adopt scientific and technologic extreme attempts which may help it transgressing cognitive, institutional, moral, emotional taboos and behaviours, and risk itself farther into the complexities of matter, life and intelligence. The Bienal del fin del mundo, in the extreme South of Argentina – Tierra del fuego – this March 2007, has evocated this theme. Those who explore chaos are not mad: they look for new cosmos.
What de we dream of beneath extreme and hostile limits? We dram of assuming and acknowledging our very nature of human gods. And in reality, what could we dram of, if God does not exist?
(1) See : Hervé Fischer, La société sur le divan, éléments de mythanalyse, éditions vlb, Montréal, 2007.
(2). See : Hervé Fischer, CyberProméthée, l’instinct de puissance à l’âge du numérique, éditions vlb, 2003.
(3). See : Hervé Fischer, Nous serons des dieux (vlb, 2006).