For the 20th anniversary of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation and as a continuation of the “Jérôme Lejeune, a discovery for life” Exhibition, the Foundation is presenting its new play from Fabrice Hadjadj in Lyon. “Jeanne et les post-humains ou le sexe de l’ange » poses the questions of the value of life in a totally technological society.
Meeting the author.
Jérôme Lejeune Foundation: You wrote « Jeanne et les Post-humains”, a play on transhumanism. Is it a science-fiction play ?
Fabrice Hadjadj : The characteristic of our time is the abolition of the frontiers between realism and science fiction.
The futurist genre has even become old fashioned, archaic in comparison with what is really going on, things we would find difficult to imagine. In this play, I came up with practically nothing new. I only pushed the cursor up a little with a cruelty I hope to be significant and exhilarating.
FJL : This issue concerning transhumanism leads to a reflection on the sense of man faced with science. This reflection was at the centre of Jérôme Lejeune’s life. Did his thoughts inspire you when you wrote the play?
FH : I was marked by the text “enceinte concentrationnaire (concentration pregnancy)” and the case that took place in Maryland: the land of Mary. There is enough in there to write a tragedy and more. Because it seems to me that the influence of technology is taking us towards what I would call a counter annunciation and a disincarnation.
The product of biogenetics must substitute the fruit of the womb, and the flesh turned into computer bites, must substitute the word made flesh.” In vitro veritas”, used to say Philippe Muray, when speaking of either the glass of a test tube or the glass of a screen.
FJL : How are eugenics and transhumanism connected?
FH : It is the biologist Julian Huxley, first general director of UNESCO, who replaced one term by the other. It was not considered well to defend eugenics after the fall of the IIIrd Reich. However, in order to get people to believe he had let go of the idea, Huxley simply gave it a new name as is appropriate when one is the head of an international organisation and has some experience in using what is, wrongly, called doublespeak ( because speech uses words and brings us back to the word made flesh, our saviour. What should it be called then? “Doublebites” maybe…).
However, transhumanism goes much further. It is no longer just about selecting and improving births as indicated by the term eugenics, but going from birth to pure and simple fabrication. Ray Kurzweil thus speaks of the research for non-biological supports.
His dream: immortality on a hard disk. What we can wish him: probably to simply be able to press the delete button to get rid of all his stupidity.
FJL : The play stages a vison of man instrumentalized by technocratic relativism. Is anxiety the only future left for the 20th century man?
FH : Günther Anders used to say we had become “anxiety illiterates". According to him, after Hiroshima, anxiety which should be part of what we feel turned into something which went way beyond our individual capacities of imagination and sensitivity. That is why, instead of dealing with an anxiety become too unbearable, we turn towards entertainment and ridicule, derision. But the apocalypse is not all catastrophic. It is also and first of all a revelation. It is now, at a time when they are in the process of being destroyed, that we are starting to discover the mystery of sex, family and the fact that only a God made flesh can save us.