The Myth of Crossing Species Boundaries


Before beginning this series on Crossing Species Boundaries, I would like to mention my serendipitous oversight in last week’s blog. Due to the hubbub of everyday life, and unlike most weeks, I did not have a chance to read all of my fellow bloggers blogs…

Gary Elkins discussed “Cybrid-gate in the UK,” where he more than adequately articulated the current policies concerning human-animal hybrid research.

Gary’s presentation offers a good look into how some scientists continue doing this research under the radar, while recognizing that researchers can create human-animal hybrids in full accord with the stipulations set forth. I commend this to you for a view of current policy on this issue.

Now for some introductory thoughts:

Throughout history and cultures there has been a strange fascination with this idea of human-animal hybrids. Many of the great ancient writers and poets spoke of such mythical creatures: the Menotaur, Medusa, The Sirens, et al.

In more recent fiction (last 100 years or so) we see the same: The Fly, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and, a more recent film, Splice (I didn’t see it either). These are—of course—just a handful of the myriad examples.

These are depicted as having some kind of command over the rest of mankind.

In the days of old they were god-men—powerful aberrations that incite fear in those who see them. The Sirens, at the sound of their voices, rendered man mad. Medusa’s victims, at her mere sight, would turn to stone.

The Fly evokes a more animal sentiment; the insect, with which the mad scientist crossed, begins to gradually diminish his humanity, much like a metamorphosis. Such is the case with Dr. Moreau’s Beast-folk after his death; they forget his laws and fall prey to their own instincts.

While the ancient mythological writings reflected their religion (or vice versa), it is also important to remember that the pieces of recent fiction were written in a historical-cultural context that reverberated the fears caused by the scientific-medical possibilities at hand.


Next week, we will discuss the context that made these fictional fears, so real.




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