Self-Made Superman

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Self-Made Superman
2060
G. K. Chesterton

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If all else fails, you can make become the Man of Tomorrow yourself by performing simple exercises to release the hidden powers and potentials that all men have.   This may sound a bit silly, but from '30s on it was regarded as a serious path by many people for reaching the next stage of human development.  Since science had done so much to improve the efficiency of manufacturing and office routines, then it stood to reason that the application of the same techniques could take any ordinary nebbish and transform him into a streamlined Charles Atlas with the grace of Nijinsky, the speed of Jesse Owens, and the brains of Einstein-- though without the weird haircut. 

Exactly how to accomplish this was another matter.  George Bernard Shaw in Back to Methuselah  claimed that longevity could be improved by sheer willpower.   If you were a Doc Savage fan, you could go the whole route of doing a daily routine of Swedish exercises and drills to improve your taste, sight, hearing, and moral integrity.  There were other ways that were dressed up in all sorts of doubletalk and technobabble, but in the end, it all boiled down to the same thing in different packages-- some of them very expensive. 

By the 1950s, the advertising pages of pulp magazines were filled with "unleash your mental powers" adverts and science fiction types like A. E. Van Vogt and John W. Campbell became so enamoured of easy shortcuts to supemanhood that the pages of Astounding Science Fiction were filled with articles on how to remove "false memory associations," scanning the totality of your own brain,  and generally improving yourself in every possible way that couldn't actually be measured.    Eventually, this sort of thinking descended into the  dingbat craziness of general semantics and Dianetics and became ripe for satire from Fritz Lieber in his short story "Poor Superman."

Then it all moved to California where it fit right in.

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