Harry Harlow: Artificial Motherhood | Isolation

5/04/2009 12:46:00 PM Posted by Lamashtu93


I was reading some interviews with Peter Sotos, a writer which any artist working in fields similar to mine has in high esteem. One of his answers in his Void Books interview led me on the trail of the American psychologist Harry Harlow.

“You can look at [Harry Harlow’s] work and see it as science and art. I think you can look at his intentions and see them as uniquely genuine and giving and the application as sexual and intemperate and as cruel as the need to understand such things would necessarily twist. The devices he used and the way he presented the material is what comes from a real artist’s mentality.”

Checking it out, I found a slew of data and scientific reports putting my “Mother’s Day” zine into a context I’ve only instinctively felt as of now. His 1958 “Nature Of Love” report (which is available here) had a strong effect on me. Here is proven a certain artificiality of motherhood as something sacred, blunt cruelty in the scientific research for love (the very harshly-named “Pit of despair”) and deliberately grotesque experimental apparatus such has this robot:



Wrapped-up in cynical child poetry and brutal irony, it was a fascinating reading going beyond the realm of social mores. For me, it offered a somewhat clear definition of past intentions I couldn’t define and a prediction of our current context:

“The socioeconomic demands of the present and the threatened socioeconomic demands of the future have led the American woman to displace, or threaten to displace, the American man in science and industry. […] We now know that women in the working classes are not needed in the home because of their primary mammalian capabilities; and it is possible that in the foreseeable future neonatal nursing will not be regarded as a necessity, but as a luxury ---to use Veblen's term -- a form of conspicuous consumption limited perhaps to the upper classes. But whatever course history may take, it is comforting to know that we are now in contact with the nature of love.”

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