I spent most of yesterday freaking out over nothing. I’m stressed in part because of this project, which may well be turning into the bureaucratic equivalent of tilting at windmills. One powerful lobby wants relief. Another says that it undermines their efforts to impose care standards. The result? A proposed rule to appease the one which has states scrambling to develop policies and procedures around the issue and which may never actually get any further than its "proposed" status. [Beats head against wall repeatedly.]
I’m also convinced that my heavy abuse of caffeine over the past several days has contributed to the racing heart and feeling trapped phenomenon. I am latte free today.
On another matter entirely, Gaby Wood is a lovely woman with some interesting ideas and a predictably groovy English accent and wit. I managed to get Paul to come to the reading with me, though I confess I plied him with liquor at John Harvard’s beforehand. (Thankfully, he seemed to enjoy himself regardless.) I think the best discussion of the night developed around the idea of the doll as an early experience for a child with disappointment in a relationship. Here is this thing that a child will pour all of her love into, and it provides nothing in return. Edison had hoped to alleviate that some with his doll, but it was ultimately a monstrous thing. It was too heavy, too ugly, and ultimately too unpleasant to listen to. In essence, Edison’s living doll failed because in the attempt to make it seem more human, its inhumanity was intensified.
Paul posed a question concerning modern manifestations of the fear attached to the manufacture of life, leading Wood to speak about cloning, AI, and robotics. She apparently has spent some time with the researchers at MIT, and dropped the names of a couple of their books that deal exclusively with our contemporary attitudes and fears, though sadly The Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition was not amongst the titles she cited. I forgot to jot them down.
I bought her book, and got it signed. More weird philosophy of science for the library.