A Visit to Diego

One of the themes of the Uglies series is transhumanity. In other words, how we humans change when we use technology to alter our minds and bodies in radical ways. Throughout the series I tried to juxtapose the good (special reflexes and pretty health), the bad (being bubbleheaded or cutter-brained), and the ambiguous (manga heads and Radical Honesty) changes that our species is capable of.

At this year’s TED conference athlete Aimee Mullins spoke on that very subject. Aimee has no legs, or rather, she has many legs to choose from. In Uglies terms she is a Diegoan, someone who alters her body at will for practical and aesthetic reasons. She’s also good at talking about these alterations in awesome ways.

So check her out in this very brain-rewiring video.

Go here for more about this talk.

Or here to hear a much younger Aimee talk about running.

78 thoughts on “A Visit to Diego

  1. This is the second author’s blog that I’ve read in a week that’s had TED coverage; does this mean you and John Hodgman are part of a vast TED conspiracy?

  2. yesss number two! that was extremely interesting in the beginning about the children. The idea of how adults censor curiosity i had never really thought of it like that

  3. Haha. That was amazing. Adults mind control children from the start, what else do you expect?
    “Today I’m 6’1″” Got me laughing.
    “But…. Amy that’s not fair.” Got me laughing even harded.

  4. It is interesting how our society, which claims to support the eradication of prejudice, is geared to look down on people who are, as the government calls them, “disabled.” One of my best friends has MD and is in a wheelchair, and almost every teacher she has assumes that she is in some way mentally substandard because of it. Why? Why do we have the need to associate difference with disability? What is that saying about us, and our views of diversity?

  5. Ok, proper comment now. I thought that talk was amazing, and I hope that if ever a similiar thing happens to me, I can deals with it as well.
    An interesting point about children-When I was younger and I saw someone with a ”disability” I would stare and think about what it was like- not in disgust, horror, or unacceptance -but Curiosity. I have a few frineds and more friends of friends who have diseases like MS or cerebal palsy– in fact, one of my best friends has a 2nd cousin who recently -3 years ago- contacted a very violent form of MS. She used to be one of London most respected barristers, and she is amazingly intelligent….but as she is in a wheelchair and mostly immobile, people assume that she is a subhuman, almost. I myself have never looked upon other as substandard people myself, but it is not the fault of individuals….but of society, I think. On another brilliant note, I saw a wonderful poster in an Australian bus on my travels with a picture of a woman with no legs sitting/balancing on a stool with the help of a staff. Overhead was the caption ‘don’t DIS my ABILITY.’ although the pun in puny(lol) it was a very thought-provoking poster.
    Rant over.

  6. I wrote this after a family happening and learning a little more about ‘Sexting’. Its called Naïve and Oblivious. Hope you like!

    They think it’s cool,
    The way that they speak.
    They think it’s funny,
    They don’t know it will leak.

    Things get around,
    And images are found.
    They claim they don’t know,
    But we saw the whole show.

    Naïve and oblivious,
    These are their names.
    Keep going along,
    Keep playing your games.

    But what you may not get,
    Is that the acts are not legit.
    What you might have not thought,
    Is we are onto your plot.

    Stop it right now,
    This act is so crazy.
    With all of this drama,
    Your future is hazy.

    Comment on it, please. Feedback make Bran-la HAPPY!

  7. I think it’s cool to take advantage of having prosthetics, but I can’t imagine people willfully having their limbs removed for it.

    Still, very Diego-esque.

  8. for quite a while, one of my greatest fears was losing a limb… or multiple limbs…
    but if prosthetics are this far along, it doesn’t have to be such a legit fear…

  9. but for arms I guess it isn’t as easy… somehow hands and fingers would have to be able to be controlled

  10. I agree. People shouldn’t look down at people just because they are a little different. Adults do effect the way their children look at the world, and should really think about what they’re saying, and how they’re acting, and how their children percive their behavior. For example, I am very against things like spanking. I read a book that talked about ways to raise responsible kids and stuff, and it was very against spanking and yelling and things like that. All it teaches kids is not to behave, but that it’s okay and right to scream, yell, throw things around, and hit people when they’re upset. Also, it doesn’t help the parent-child relashonship at all! All it does is cause kids to want revenge, and get bad at their parents! We don’t veiw those things as earned punishment. We veiw it as hitting! And I remember. I allways wanted to seek revenge on my dad when he spanked me. I almost ran away once! But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic, so back on it. Like I was saying, people should never look at other people as retards, or lower, just because they’re different. I myself have Turner Syndrome. I actually don’t mind having it. I feel that because of it, I can expireance things through eyes that normal people can never really understand. Sure, there are downsides to TS, but the way I look at it, there are plenty of positives.

  11. That a really great video…I love how people say things like “I feel sorry for them,” when they see a ‘disabled’ person, but don’t think about all the possibilities. Our culture is so focused on a norm that when we encounter something different, we immediately assume that it’s bad, or something to pity.
    What gives?

  12. What annoy’s me are the people who meet me and think I’m a retard. I can allways tell who’s a good person and friend. I just can. I allways have had issues with making friends. Most girls with TS do. Sure, one of the issues is that us TS girls have terrible social skills (Lol), but another issue is that not everyone will accept us for the way we are. I am 14, will turn 15 in July, but I do act like a 10 or 12 year old a lot. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t care about that, and will accept me for me, and understand that I’m a great friend. Aaand, as most of you know, I play an awsome Shay in our movie!! Hehe. I’m done now.

  13. I have one thing to tell those people who think I’m a retard. I bet that not one of those know half as much as I do in Astronomy and Geology. Just for their info, TS girls are incredibly talented. So there.

  14. I agree with your second&third comments Alex-wa

    but I was spanked when I was younger, and it worked for me… my parents didn’t do it out of anger… if they were angry they would do a different punishment
    but I know many people who are/were spanked as a child and it didn’t negatively affect them…

    I think it depends
    some parents do it out of anger… too much, too hard

    but it can be done right

    oh&&I get what you mean about age… I’m 17, and sometimes I act 17, other times I act like 13 or 14… some of my best friends are my age, others are like 13 or 14… I just act how I want… sometimes people react to that negatively, other times not

  15. Wow. What a remarkable woman. She truly is beautiful and that cheetah picture was amazing. I give you tons of credit. Some people may think you are crazy but when they hear your story they will probably think otherwise. Congratulations.

  16. that makes me super sad yet super hopeful. Knowing how people view those with syndromes can be so bogus. I have a niece who the doctors said wouldnt live because she was premature and her brain wasnt supposed to function at all. Thry said she would never be able to walk, crawl, or even THINK. But shes three, walks, can communicate and is almost like any other 3 year old. When people see her they dont feel comfortable or ask if shes ‘retarded’. Even a woman told her child that she couldnt understand because she was ‘retarded’. How sad is that???? She has no idea how much progress shes made and how ‘normal’ she is!! People like her andthe girl in the video amaze me. To be able to take the wild card they were given and run with it. I know i would have such a hard time and probablynever do anything. But people like my niece and her show us how amazing they really are. Disabled or not, they do normal things that the rest of us do, even if they have difficulties along the way. Our minds are conditioned to feel sorry for them or to treat them weird but in reality they’re quite normal. Whatever normal is. And thanks to science/technology now, were getting closer to helping them more. Which is way awesome :]

  17. sorry, tgat was a long random comment, i just get really annoyed about my niece and i guess i needed to vent…

    Scott-la, icy post. Its good to see strong women like her, and its a little frightening how close were getting to manga heads or surge monkeys. So not ready for that yet. Though i wouldnt mind a skintenna or a eye surge…. Hm….

  18. That was totally awesome. It reminds me of this thing that keeps bouncing around my head; if people could just look past race, gender, and ‘disabilities’ the world would be a much better place. You can’t treat someone like they’re beneath you just because they’re a little different from you.

  19. This was very thought-provoking. I remember when i was little, i used to be creeped out by people with no legs or arms. It was like people had told me to think that way. Then my uncle got in an accident and lost most of his fingers. I am now used to seeing him with eight and a half fingers. i think that most children need to have someone they know have this happen to them before they can realize that its not wierd or bad, just different and that we shouldn’t be scared or think that that person is mentally disabled because of it.

  20. ditto amy~la-with-a-bunch-of-other-identities. Except in 5’6″, which isnt bad, but really sucks when everyone one in your family, including a baby brother whis 6 years younger, is 6′ and up.

  21. Oh yeah? Well I’m tired of being my wonderful 4’6″ from having TS. It’ll be a miracle if I reach 5′ before I turn 16 and have to quit Growth Hormone therapy and switch to Estragen replacement therapy. Yeah.

  22. That was very powerful, and I think it is a beautiful thing that she is doing. And brave. not just anyone would stand up and talk about that, and be humorous! Wonderful!

  23. That is such a beautiful thing she is doing out there.

    And…. I am kind of jealous of the ability she has to transform her self like that.

  24. I haven’t visited your blog in awhile but I was in my local library recently and found the guide book to the world of the Uglies Trilogy and it renewed my Scott Westerfeld love because… you mentioned your Nana-love (which, strangely enough, I did not connect when I read the Extra novel)! I also adore Nana and I suppose I’m writing to say best wishes and thanks for the awesome books!

  25. Whoa. Very cool. That totally got me thinking. Like, how bubbly would it be to have CHEETAH LEGS. or EXTRA arms??? Awesome! First insight into the Extra theme!

  26. nice video, scott!!
    i really liked what she said about the kids being “trained” to be frightened of disabilities, it seems to go along with the brainwashing done in the Uglies stories.
    Also, what if the reason that the doctors could start the pretty operation even after the Rusty Crash is that they were already trying to create limbs like that before it? What she said at the last part about disabled people being architects of their body made me think of that…so if disabled people were already trying to push the limits of what could be done with various body parts they may or may not have, then the post-Crash doctors could go off of that and try to make a perfect pretty using those notes and stuff. Also, the aesthetic part could come in after the mind rain, where everyone got creative with their bodies and didn’t need to have missing limbs to change things.

    wow, i should be sleep deprived more often, i’m getting good ideas…

  27. woah, purposefully didn’t read all the comments before i posted mine so i would have my own judgement to make on the video, so here’s my response to all of it:

    I agree, Alex-wa. People who have just about any syndrome are looked down upon but can be super awesome in a buncha stuff. My brother has Autism, but he is SO creative in the arts that i’m really jealous of that.
    see meeting you online i bet we all just thought you were another happy hyper person like we are or at least meet on this blog. Knowing you before your syndrome makes the syndrome not matter so much. Too bad it usually doesn’t work that way in real life…
    i could go on and on with examples…of how i hate it when people make fun of disabled people or assume everyone who is different must be retarded…epic fail world…but i must stop myself because that post would be like fourteen pages worth and i don’t want to make you all scroll through it for hours.

  28. oh one more thing (sorry!!), check this out:


    It’s kinda focused on seeing Autism as not being a disability, but it makes you think about disabilities in general, how does anybody who has one see someone who is “normal”?

  29. this is all to tru
    she is an incredibly inspiring person and i say that not because she “overcame adversity” as so many have blindly put, but because she understands herself, her humanity, and that of others.

  30. Hello!

    I’m a french reader, and I absolutly love your books! I’m currently reading the first volume of “Midnighters” and it sounds really different from the “Uglies” series, but great!! I feel I’ll really enjoy it!!
    This was the first thing I wanted to tell you. The second is that I want to be a movie director (later, because I’m only 17!) and that I promised myself that, one day, (by then, I would proove myself! =D ) I’ll produce one of your work, because I truly love your world: it sounds like mine!!

    Sorry if I’ve done some fault in my spelling or something!! =)

    Yours sincerely.


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