Penile transplants. Bio-hacked night vision eyesight. Devastating metal rods dropped from outer space. Books made from human skin. Rockets inspired by occult magick.
These are just a few of the things I learned about while researching, writing and co-hosting Stuff to Blow Your Mind the last few years. Unfortunately my odyssey through the weird is coming to an end here. But I want to thank all of you for accepting me into your ears. It’s been wonderful working on this show and interacting with such an insightful audience.
Those of us who work in digital media are often told by The Powers That Be that we’re not just writers or podcasters... we’re “storytellers.” So let me tell you one more tale before I go:
For example, he met marine research scientist Marah Hardt, who told him that sand tiger sharks actually eat their unborn siblings in the womb. Unsettled, he turned to dolphins. They’re nicer, right? Here he discovered that psychonaut John C. Lilly once flooded an apartment so human researchers could cohabitate with dolphins, even helping them dispense with their sexual urges. “What a surprising way to find out these creatures can smile with their blowholes,” he thought.
Dolphins weren’t the only ones with cross-species carnal interests. It turned out a Russian biologist once attempted to breed a human/ape hybrid in the 1920s. But at least those animals were alive. Because mallard ducks occasionally attempt to have sex with the corpses of their own species.
They weren’t the only animals with intimacy issues, he found out. Some people were building sex robots. Everyone was arguing about it. Were they inherent representations of violence and discrimination? Or possibly therapeutic tools to restore a trauma victim’s sexual confidence? He considered this inevitable union of man and machine, and stumbled upon the secret origin of cyborgs. The term was first coined while brainstorming ways to retrofit human bodies so they could live in outer space.
Transforming what it meant to be human had been imagined for at least 200 years, since the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. “Why would a nineteen year old woman write about such a gruesome resurrection?” he asked. Possibly because her mother attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge. Perhaps Shelley’s mom heard the call of the void, where human brains temporarily uncouple their perceptual systems, urging us to jump to our death.
“Golly,” he thought, “is there some way to help people who have experienced such trauma?” There were many! One was a psychoactive drug called MDMA. Not only did it quell human fear and encourage trust, it also had applications in cancer therapy.
With all of this bizarre information swirling through his head, the writer remembered a quote from a comic book he loved: “It’s a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.”
You can continue to reach me on Twitter @christiansager or the old fashioned way at christian [dot] sager [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll also continue to hang out in the STBYM Discussion Module on Facebook, interacting with our awesome community over there.
While I won’t be here anymore, I’ll still be actively writing and podcasting. You can keep up with my comics, fiction, essays and articles on my Tumblr. Or check out my creator-owned podcast Supercontext. It’s an autopsy of media, how we consume it and how it informs our everyday culture. In each episode we try to understand the entertainment world we all live in, whether through film, television, prose, music or comic books.
I’m going to keep telling stories about all the weird new things I learn. I hope you keep enjoying them.