X-Message-Number: 11398
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: Celebrities as puppets, and the merits of working for membership
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 23:43:24 +1100 (EST)

Hi everyone!

For Bob Ettinger: One of the worst examples of what happens with
celebrities is the story of Timothy Leary. After much effort on the part
of some Alcor members, Timothy Leary became a member of Alcor. However he
did not stay a member of Alcor long enough to be suspended; his head was
turned by others and other ideas. 

And Timothy Leary may simply provide an interesting example. Here's how I
came to look at him: some people (just whom and how many I cannot say) 
become quite literally puppets of their audience. As such puppets, they
may easily attain fame and celebrity. Leary provides a good example. This
does not say anything at all about just what the celebrity does or has
done. Consider, say, an artist. He/she  develops a striking style, and
gains a large following both of imitators and critics, and lots of
paintings sold (for large sums) and in museums. But his/her audience does
not want further experimentation, changes of style, or any further
exploration of the possibilities in painting. And so this celebrity spends
the rest of their life putting out paintings in the style which made them
famous. (I just might be talking about Picasso, here). 

As for other kinds of celebrities, I'd suspect that politicians provide
the best example of such puppetry, but doubt that it's limited only to
politicians. It may even hold for scientists: getting a Nobel prize is
fine, but not all scientists have been able to study other subjects or
take up other issues after getting that prize. There are intellectual and
emotional COSTS to celebrity. And celebrity, even among scientists, does
not require a Nobel prize: once gained, it can cement you into a
particular set of views. You have become a puppet of your audience. 
As for allowing applicants to perform services rather than pay money, that
is a valuable point for ANY applicant. As I explained in my message in
this issue of Cryonet, there are some people who, through no moral fault
but only through bad luck, have suffered and overcome various often fatal
diseases. And once someone has done that, they cannot get life insurance
at any reasonable price. (I was either lucky or wise --- take your pick
--- I took out lots of life insurance while I was healthy, and so I am
not included among these people). Such persons have a problem funding
their membership in a cryonics society, and we should think more about how
they can do so.

But it should be real work for any such person, not just make-work because
they are celebrities. If such an offer is made to a celebrity, it
should not simply say that he/she must make public statements. It should
ask that they actually caused some others to join (words sound nice, and
many associations are content with words, but for cryonics we want 
MEMBERS, not just words). Yes, that is a hard requirement, whether or not
you are a celebrity. (I'm not saying that those who are not celebrities
must do this, merely discussing celebrities here. If you AREN'T a
celebrity, your statements about cryonics are unlikely to be heard ---
but you can do other useful things instead). 

We live in a society which creates celebrities for many reasons, often
close to pure chance. And morally we should try to suspend anyone who
wants suspension, whether celebrity or not. But celebrities not only have
advantages, they also have problems: much more than most they can become
puppets of their audience. And since that audience does not consist of 
cryonicists, they have almost died already once that has happened to them.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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