upon conceiving a new idea

by eduardo ramos

The Reproduction of Pandas, or, The Human Dilemma: Meditations on the Nature of Nature

A _volutions Magazine Inconsistent Exclusive

Pandas in captivity, despite the stresses of their impending extirpation, are notorious for having difficulty in reproducing. For American zoos it is especially true that the panda has rarely and most difficultly reproduced successfully. Hua Mei was the first panda born in North America that survived to adulthood; this did not happen until 1999 at the San Diego Zoo.

From my childhood, I remember Washington's own unsuccessful attempts. The lovers' relationship and attempts at reproduction were chronicled in detail by the media of that time's popular culture. Many failed pregnancies were occasion for talk in the capital of the capitalist world. They even cuckolded the male, Hsing Hsing, bringing a stud from elsewhere to try and knock up Ling Ling. But she bore no fruit for the newcomer; her original Love was redeemed. Hsing Hsing outlived Ling Ling but died alone, euthanized in the end ("put to sleep").

It is now possible for humans to apply sciences in a variety of ways to exert some control over the re-production of life. Birth control, for example, can in some cases prevent conception, though not negate its possibility. Sex selection. Andrew Niccol, in Gattaca, went to an imagined future extreme that today does not seem far from reality, in which the re-production of a human being could be controlled entirely through scientific intervention. But even before Ethan Hawke fought against his society of gene-discriminators, babies already were being born in test-tubes.

The human body struggles against the environment it exists in, just as all living creatures do, yet a reading of the attitude of the collective body (with or without organs?) does want to separate the body from the tenets of Nature. So is it the panda that is inhuman, or is the human inpanda?

Next Time, on Imprisoned Notebooks

  • Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnostics
  • Red Pandas
  • Hsing Hsing; or, A Universe of Cuckolds
  • Bodies, Bodices: Organ Music for Those Without
  • Obscure References to A Thousand Plateaus/ Guatari: No Longer Just a Videogame

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