X-Message-Number: 19501
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:03:28 +1000
From: Damien Broderick <>
Subject: `Recovery' (was: Re: Cryonics \"Meme-bites\)

On another list, someone suggested (in this context of searching for
optimal memes):

>I thought you might like the idea of equating "resurrection" with

[I replied:]

It's exactly the wrong approach, in my view. `Resurrection' is a
theological term from a particular faith-based mythos, and must be allow to
remain there. Attempting to appropriate it clearly verges (for believers)
on the blasphemous. 

`Reanimation' worries me nearly as much. The argument for cryonics proper
(although not for, say, destructive uploading to another computational
substrate) is that in a very real sense the frozen corpse is *not truly
dead*. The person's (patient's) life processes have been arrested, cellular
decay halted as soon as possible. Despite brutal damage to organs and
tissues the fundamental information is merely `on hold'. That makes cryonic
suspension a more startling and extended version of what is done by cooling
an unconscious patient during heart surgery while replacing an organ with a
transplant. When a cardiac transplant patient's new heart is restarted,
nobody refers to this (rather creepily, as in a horror movie) as
*reanimation*. Let's not go there if we can possibly avoid it.

[I now add for general consideration:]

I think I have a quite effective word we might apply to the condition we
hope will be attained by the cryonically preserved: 


Although I haven't done a literature search on prior use of this term in
this context, it does strike me as rather appropriate in a number of
dimensions. It avoids affronting the religious and the non-religious alike.
It evades Gothic connotations. Better still, it captures the desperate but
hopeful ambiance of the emergency ward rather than the morgue. 

In a last extremity we face dangerous surgery with trepidation but hope of
recovery: partial recovery at worst, complete at best. Bruise a muscle,
fracture a limb, or contract an infection, and we await recovery in a state
of withdrawal, perhaps attended by physicians and the prayers or supportive
good wishes of our friends.

Is there a downside? Consider the connotations of `in recovery',
`recovering from addiction'. Unfortunate overtones? Maybe so, but then I'd
happily embrace a 12-Step Program that could save me from my body's long
term and intractable addiction to death.

`My name is Damien, and I'm a mortal.'

Six billion voices roar encouragingly: `Hello, Damien!'

Recovery. I could use some of that.

Damien Broderick

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