X-Message-Number: 11942
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: a bit for Richard Gillman
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 22:26:07 +1000 (EST)

To Richard Gillman:

I've read Becker's book, and I've also read a much more obscure book
called THE IMMORTALIST, by someone much more obscure by the name of Alan
Harrington. If I understand the sequence of events properly, Becker wrote
his book AFTER Harrington, and appropriated many of Harrington's
arguments. Harrington, unlike Becker, believed that we should use our 
medical research and science to find means toward immortality (from which
comes the title of his book). Becker took Harrington's arguments and 
turned them against that notion.

Harrington had a chapter on cryonics (he wrote his book in 1969, when
cryonics groups were tiny, even compared to today). He never took up
cryonics himself and apparently is now dead. However his book was an 
early discussion not only of the merits of immortality but of what it
would mean to us psychologically. 

Frankly it looked to me that Becker stole Harrington's ideas about the
psychology of death, and twisted them into a message which many felt 
happier with. And for that he got his Pulitzer prize. At a minimum, if
you read Becker carefully he does mention Harrington in passing, while
Harrington never mentions Becker. As you might expect, Becker mentions
Harrington negatively.

You may find Harrington's book hard to get, but one thing you might try
is to ask a book search firm to look for a copy. One firm I would suggest
is SLIGHTLY READ BOOKS, , phone 515-236-0541. Their 
mail address is 928 Main Place, Grinnell, IA. If you get a copy you can
work out for yourself just how much Becker owed Harrington.

Whatever else it is, THE IMMORTALIST is a relatively recent discussion of
the merits and importance of immortality, psychologically and socially.
Harrington clearly thought that this immortality could be attained by
the proper scientific research, but his emphasis wasn't on what we know
about aging but instead on the meaning of a successful discovery of how
to make PEOPLE (you, me, anyone) immortal, in the flesh and not in any
kind of spiritual way.

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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