note: new movie annihilation drags up the fifth and final installment of george bernard shaw’s metabiological pentateuch back to methuselah. shaw posits a final evolutionary step for humans in the distant future, wherein the passage from fetus through adolescence to adulthood takes only a few hours: after a single afternoon’s brief, sweet social flings we pass, singly, into the wilderness, where we obsess with our own minds, mutating strange new physical forms to reflect our evolving mental states

john carpenter’s the thing proposes an alien life form on the level of a collective intelligence of networked individual cells, which take over and annihilate individuals of other species, in this act gaining the ability to replicate their form. so your dog might be not your dog but a thing and the thing is waiting to pass on its annihilating virus so that it can, in killing you, learn your form, and take it over

and in octavia butler’s adulthood rites she imagines an advanced lifeform which can explore and rewrite its own dna migrating from planet to planet, merging with and learning from the genetics of other species, and, like a soul gaining knowledge in each successive incarnation, advances toward its own idea of perfection with each new merging

this dream of mutational self-determinism, of literal metaphysicality, is also a nightmare . . . our ultimate existential vulnerability, we’ve learned, might be in our foundation, our weaving, our threads . . . the casting-off of the hangdog corpus to better reflect our mental, perhaps our digital, potential, increases liquidity but offers obverse nightmares . . .

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