I was about 9 years old when the album Kid A by Radiohead was first released. I didn’t experience the release firsthand. I have read about how it completely shattered expectations following OK Computer, polarizing fans and critics into one camp who embraced the bizarre new sounds and those who reject them and deny the future territory it carved.
Last night I was digging into the “meaning” of the album, which is a terrible and limiting thing to do, especially with a band like Radiohead, but it led to a pretty mind-blowing connection. The idea that Kid A is a reference to the first human clone, or some sort of artificial intelligence borne from the scraps of our fallible sapian iteration, makes me realize how the closer another form of life gets to something human without being human, the creepier it is.
Think about this. The idea of ghosts, or beings in a supernatural, different energy field as is can be scary, but . We’re closer to having a confirmed human clone than we are to verifying the existence of ghosts (I don’t want to hear it SyFy channel) or the existence of aliens. Even the mention of ghosts or aliens will give you cartoonish associations in the realm of “conspircy theory” but a clone is something you can sink your teeth into. We’ve already cloned for the purpose personalized therapies, but I don’t doubt one day a radical scientist or group will produce an entirely functioning human clone. Well I do doubt it, but I still think it’s more likely to happen (first or at all) than confirming the existence of ghosts or aliens.
There is something called the Uncanny Valley which is:
“a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers.”
So far this hypothesis, while applicable to the reaction of humans augmenting and modifying themselves (posthumanism and transhumanism), is mostly restricted to robotics and 3D animations that approximate humanlike appearance and behavior, but falling just short and in essence, creeping us the fuck out.
I imagine we would react like this to the first human clone. I would imagine that clone would have hurtful, isolating feelings about this rejection that neither a robot nor a 3D simulation can have.
I guess parts of the album can be applied to the loneliness and alienation the first human clone would feel. Even if I’m in a subway car packed full of strangers who look like they want nothing to do with me, I know we all have the similar experience of being born as the result of two people coming together, whether or not they decided to stay and fill the roles of parents. This clone can’t relate with anyone about their birth, yet they would be human in every other way, no? Is “being born as the result of procreation of two mating adults” a requirement for being human?
When I think of this, I get a creepy feeling like someone stuck a saliva-covered finger in my ear, my shoulder blades clench, shoulders rise, neck sinks down, and I need to wiggle my head to get rid of this feeling.