X-Message-Number: 19466
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 13:48:52 +1000
From: Damien Broderick <>
Subject: Re: Cryonics \"Meme-bites\
References: <002a01c22864$0ce8a8d0$>

I've been thinking about how best to convey these perspectives for a long
time. Certainly it's difficult. In part, that's because the problems are
culturally contextual. 

If we lived in a society (and most human societies seem to have been like
this) where you took it for granted that sickness was due to sorcery--to
deliberate malignant intentions directed at you by your enemies--then
taking antibiotics and washing your hands carefully would seem ridiculous,
beside the point, and perhaps impious. 

Now in fact most of us live in a culture where a plurality of people
residually or fervently assume that the course of human life has been
ordained by a supernatural Creator, due allowances being made for the ruin
we brought upon ourselves by our ancestral and subsequent wickedness and
the proper punishments for those sins meted out upon the species by the
offended Creator. 

Most people in Western society have at least a vague notion that humans
once lived a very long time indeed (for a few millennia after the creation
of Adam from the dust), many hundreds of years, in fact, and that this
original longevity fell off with time as the wickedness of humankind grew
more horrible, until eventually the Creator had to unleash a major
geological catastrophe to clean away the putrid mess humans had made of the
world. (Interestingly, Methuselah is said to have died at 969 in the very
year that Yahweh caused the Great Flood.) Thereafter, the sacred word of
God informs us, we have had a divinely-inscribed lifespan of four score
years maximum.

It's hard to argue with that kind of Truth. It is probably
counter-productive to tell people who have this as their basic,
unquestioned and perhaps even unconscious baseline that you wish to
`extend' or `maximize' or `optimize' lifespans. You might as well tell them
you're planning a pact with Satan to obtain some more of that deadly fruit
of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

There has to be a better way to convey our life-affirming goals, a form of
presentation that doesn't trigger immune reactions that shut down the
listener's mind.

I still haven't found the best way to do it (indeed, I give in far too
often to a rather self-defeating tendency to be sarcastic and mocking and
`clever', those marks of the hateful and ungodly). I did think of a term
the other night that appealed to me, in the dual contexts of
longevity/life-extension and cryonics. I'm not quite sure how it would be
deployed, but it seems to me to tap in to current pieties that affirm our
wish for `wellness' and `personal growth'. etc:


The LifeLong program. Cryonics would not be `freezing the dead' but
`LifeLong care'. Maybe. 

Feel free to play with it, or come up with some other contextually
user-friendly memes.

Damien Broderick

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