Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Not me, that's for sure.

I remember this topic coming up in (of all places) grade eleven English class. I might not have been the only person in the class opposed to the notion of immortality, but I was certainly the only person who dared voice opposition.
Let's define parameters here, because like the Gods we might become, the word 'immortality' is often taken as read and not examined thoroughly. Presumably 'immortality' means we have shut the aging process off, since death of old age is still death. What age do we select for? I'd bet most men would want to live forever at their physical (not to mention sexual) peak, somewhere around 18-21. Not being a woman, I can't answer for the fairer sex, but given the absurd (and obscene) value placed on youth in this society, I'd expect many of them would also choose to remain in that general age bracket unto eternity.

Unintended consequence: the incidence of rape skyrockets. Women don't hit their sexual peak until their thirties, after all. You've got most of the men wandering around with tents inside their pants and most of the women looking askance at them: in short, your average high school, everywhere.
Unless we've somehow coded for mental, emotional and spiritual maturity inside those 18-year-old bodies (and how exactly we'd go about doing that when much of that maturity is the function, maybe the very purpose, of the aging mechanism we've callously shut down...)

Can you be injured, if you're immortal? I'd sure hope not: Chronic pain is bad enough in this a life without possibility of death it would be the worst hell I could imagine. But being invincible has its own set of issues, besides violating most of the laws of physics.. If you can't wound someone physically, you redouble your efforts to wound him emotionally. For every lord and lady of all creation, I envision someone whose mind has been  systematically shattered beyond repair. That wouldn't be an immortality I'd sign up for!

So then you end up stipulating that an immortal being can't be hurt in any way. Immediately you've removed the impetus behind much of our great art, not to mention almost all of our comedy. Eternal life without art or comedy is utterly pointless.

And that brings up the final crashing argument against immortality: boredom. I get bored enough as it is. I can't imagine how I'd feel after a few millennia.

I'm not fixing to die any time soon, but I am fixing to die at some point. I don't like the alternative.


If you could live without sleep, or with drastically reduced amounts of sleep, would you?

Most people I know couldn't say HELL YES fast enough to that one. We live in a world where "I'll sleep when I'm dead" is a  saying; where sleep is almost universally viewed as a weakness...a regrettable weakness we all share.

Even as a child, I was an outlier here: you never heard me complain about bedtime. Falling asleep is one of life's great unsung pleasures; so is waking up when you know you don't have to get up. But if there was, say, a pill available that dramatically reduced your need for sleep or heaven forbid eliminated it entirely, you'd never feel that pleasure again. If just one person takes that pill, everybody else who works with him or her will have to take it too, on pain of losing their job. Remove fatigue from the equation and why should your employer ever let you go home?

You think I'm being cynical? If anything, I'm understating the case. Remember the blissful utopias predicted when computers first arrived on the scene? We were supposed to be working twenty hours a week by now. Those very same computers that were supposed to liberate us have enslaved us instead: already there are legions of people who willingly allow themselves to be tethered to their job even when they're at home, even when they're on vacation. No thank you. Now remove sleep--the only truly alone time most of us have--out and those tethers become very weighty chains indeed.


If you could take a pill daily and satisfy your every nutritional need, would you?

Now here we have something that gives me pause. Oh, I would never want to give up the joys of eating: there are just too many foods out there that taste wonderful. But I could see myself eating like a pig on the weekends and pill-popping my way through the week...

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