X-Message-Number: 8259
Date:  Fri, 30 May 97 16:20:04 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Death of Alan Harrington

The man who gave us *The Immortalist* died May 23, at age 79, a 
victim of lukemia (and of course, the aging process). An obituary 
(kindly supplied by David Brandt-Erichsen of Tucson, where Mr. 
Harrington also lived) says, near the end, "burial will be 
private" from which we may presume that Mr. Harrington was not 
frozen. "Too bad" we say--but we need to think about what we can *do* 
to get more people to sign up for cryonics, as well as improve the 
procedures and develop alternatives as far as possible.
More research, of course, research, research, RESEARCH--but I think we
need to work on the philosophical and promotional ends too.

The obituary lists some books Harrington wrote. *The 
Immortalist* is included, though nothing more is said about it.
From the other titles and the general drift of the article
I get the impression Harrinton wasn't too 
focused on the immortalist theme. Maybe it was just a passing 
interest, one more topic to write a book about. Anyway, 
below is something I've written myself, as it currently stands--in ch. 2
of *Forever for All*, a book I am now writing about immortalism:

Here it seems appropriate to mention a book which 
appeared in 1969 (updated 1977), *The Immortalist* by 
Alan Harrington. "Death is an imposition on the 
human race, and no longer acceptable," are its ringing 
opening words. It continues, "Men and women have 
all but lost their ability to accommodate themselves to 
personal extinction; they must now proceed physi-
cally to overcome it." Indeed, it can be said to have 
given new meaning to the otherwise rarely used word 
immortalism--as a philosophical stance that death 
might be or can be overcome *scientifically*, and that 
this would be worthwhile. 

The book has a chapter on cryonics, though conclud-
ing that "An intensified drive to control the aging 
process seems far more promising." The idea of 
something to assist those dying *today*--biostasis--
seems to have escaped its author's attention, along 
with the thought that there would be value in pre-
serving the newly deceased, even if the best processes 
are still imperfect. Instead Harrington seems re-
signed, in the manner of Reade and Stephens, to 
forfeiting his own survival even if immortality is near 
on the scale of history. However, the book is of inter-
est for its philosophical treatment of the ages-old 
human drive to a world free of death, and of what 
might transpire when we get there.

Mike Perry

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