Posted by Peter Lawler
...may, thanks to regenerative medicine, face us all soon enough, as I explain HERE.
There will be no sense of tragedy, no sense of irony, no sense of forgiveness (especially not for any human frailty or imperfection), no sense of the worthy or of the unworthy . . . but worst of all, there will be no sense of humor. Destroying life's limitations seems, somehow, to make it very limited indeed.
Does this mean you say no to organ donation (no, not the musical kind) when you get your driver's licenses? Just curious.
The real practical/political problem of indefinite longevity is that in contributes to the increasing popular view that old people are a burden, not to mention a nasty reminder of the natural fate we try so hard to distract ourselves from. Also, for all obsession with the body that obviously animates the desire for immortality lite, isn't there something amazingly un-erotic about the liberation of personhood from the body and its natural restraints? The sum result of the Cartesian longing for immortality is a kind of personal Platonism--living too long and genuine longing seem to be at odds with each other.
It is vampirism when you are prolonging your life thanks to the undonated tissue of a fetus that had no say in the matter. I think what the future of life extension will be goes far beyond the realm of organ and tissue donation.
Well I certainly see a lot of humor in this Lawler post...perhaps Dr. Lawler could interview Anne Rice and ask her why she became Catholic?
Alternatively this discussion also reminds me of the insane writtings of Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali, Anne Rice, and the Vampire Lestat vs. Armand.
Dali the Caledonian Vampire: "I don't know what I am doing but I always know what I am eating."
Melting clocks or fishing for Tuna?
Anyone going to bother to checking out Anne Rice's "Song of the Seraphim?"
Angel Time is the first book.
Also has anyone read or followed the Twillight series?...I confess a poor taste for Anne Rice and some Brian Lumley...but I am not reading books that teenage girls apparently love, other than the Harry Potter series?
I am as promiscuous in literary taste as Hitler!
Albeit for those who don't bother reading because it is a waste of time and lacks action....well then for such people living forever without a body would just be insane...but in a strange Vanila Sky way I always wonder if some academics whose life involves books might not enjoy themselves as minds uploaded into powerfull Kindle DX's(or more advanced future versions...the hell if some girls don't text and already exist as iphones and blackberrys)...One Kindle to rule them all indeed, this would make J.R. Tolkein prophetic in a way he didn't intend to be.
Of course the one ring might be a throw back to Gyges...but all sorts of academic disputes and puzzles and historical questions are relatively dry...if one could adapt to live doing them, then one might be able to function doing them for eternity...plus there is a question of how time is conceived...
It is a white tower question for Gandolf...
I don't exactly believe that the longing for immortality is only Cartesian...but it isn't exactly a coincidence that Tocqueville says that the american mind is Cartesian...it also is no coincidence that a great body of decent low brow fiction to include Harry Potter and the Vampire Lestat series focus upon what one must bind to achieve immortality. Fotenotes to Tolken, fotenotes to Gyges and Plato?
I would think that in immortality the phrase, bored to death, would come alive with new meaning. Maybe, if you were perpetually young, there would be enough in "Now" to make each new day a promise.
However, the very old that I know do not seem all that happy about their prolonged state of being. An extra fifty years of peevish complaining, pills, doctor's appointments, disappointments, and growing incapacity -- who wants that? In that case, they are a burden, though given now routine medical miracles, they cannot die without willing it.
My husband had forbidden me to be an organ donor on my driver's license. His premise is that since "they" have to take you apart before you are really dead, "they" will. He thinks of it as medical vampirism. As I face age, checking yes seems the better option. Have my parts; I'll look to Heaven.
To count our days, when we had a sense that God had counted them out for us, meant something different. This seems like hoarding days, speaking of treasure. Surely the pleasure in that is limited.
Part of what makes youth exciting is not knowing the answers to the questions posed by the promise of each day. If you could do all the things you did when you were young but you already know the answers . . . why do them? Then it just becomes unnecessary labor--sucking air. Who would really want to repeat his youth? If you don't believe this, you're revealing yourself not to have learned the lessons well enough the first time around. If you still dispute it, you're not thinking back far enough. Beyond the initial charm of it, would you really want to repeat first grade?
The world is so wide and wonderful. One first grade was plenty and you didn't even have know my Miss Stevens to know I would say so. I don't think anyone wants to repeat youth, but I know there is more to life than I have had time to experience and I do not mean outre' pleasures. I mean places I can't go, books I will never get to read, both ones written and ones not written yet, all sorts of things I will never see with my own eyes and work I will never get to do. I do not really want to repeat anything, except maybe to give birth to a few more children and raise them. Even that is not really repetitive, because each one, each person, is such a different experience.
If you have lived as best you could, given as best you could of yourself, it this is not a matter of regretting what you did, either, it is a matter of knowing what you did not have time to do, but would have done if you had the time and were able. That is why the graying, withering type of immortality would be the most horrible kind of life.
I do not see why any Christian would slow the decline into death once the only usefulness left to him was to strengthen some other person's character as a burden, when there is the next adventure on the other side of the door. This world is wonderful, though not when taken on just any terms at all. I look forward to the adventure of the next one.
Julie! My captcha was messiahs Episcopal.
In re-reading my post above, I see that I put the very personal "you" where I should have put the impersonal "one" because, of course, I did not mean "you, Kate." Bad habit. Sorry. Nice post, Kate. Yes, it gets more dicey after first grade. I sometimes think I would like to repeat many things about college because, as you say, one doesn't have the time to do everything and then, there are also the things that one did not do well or do right the first time. But if we could do things over again or if we could do it all, I still think something gets lost in that. Even if you could have an infinite number of children and raise them all . . . I would think at some point you would begin to lose some interest in the task--no matter how unique and wonderful each child or or accomplishment or each avenue to knowledge is . . . the very fact that we have to choose contributes to the preciousness of the thing. The limited quantities of all things available to us add to their value. If one could live long enough to know all the things he wants to know or raise all the children she would like to raise I wonder if the joy involved would be equal to that joy we get from the knowledge and the souls we touch with our limited, human, and ever-present mortality. I don't think it would be.
And my captcha words, Kate were "placement" and "Joseph"--the mortal among the immortals . . . placed there by God to demonstrate obedience, duty, service, humility and--of course--the wondrous possibilities that come of those. Mortality may not be so bad if it means that one day we may touch God.
I did not really just mean me in my post, either, but use my little self as an example. Other people would make other choices, and I confess to know almost no one who would experience the pain and pleasure of raising children with the reckless abandon that I would. The point for most is that it reduces the opportunity for reckless abandon in just about every other area, except if you have the immortality of Greek gods. Although, I do note that they were not inclined to such reproduction, either, preferring the process to the product.
You are right, in that to be bored to death with life would be awful. I did not say I wanted infinite children. Even God does not seem to want that, if the world will end. I would have had a few more if I could have. I sure would not read every book. I would not like to know everything; there are all sorts of things I wish I could forget. No, not all, because all is too much. I just mean that given the wonders of the world God made, I would take more it if offered. I do not mean more life, or that I am afraid of death, because I am not. More experience of what is here, I just would not say "No" to that, if it were an abundant and expansive life. I don't think I am alone in this, nor do I think I am ungrateful to God if I say to Him, I liked this and would have more, if more were on offer.
It isn't, though. Therefore, yes, mortality is wonderful, because on the other side we get to touch God. I insist, this life is not bad, either, and because this creation of His is an expression of Him. I do not see wanting to know more of it as a denial of any of those things you mention, although you would have to put up with mankind and what it does -- think of Joseph's brothers, who were even relatively small fry in the evil department.
Never mind, I'll go read today's news and it might daunt me in my expressed desire.
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