Living Forever: Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

by Claudius J West

“Come on, you apes; you wanna live forever?”

Sure. Why not?

I mean, I wouldn’t want to live to the point the sun makes it through its main sequence and evolves into a red giant, swelling up beyond the current orbit of the earth, not without heavy-duty central air conditioning.

But, until that happens in about five billion years, there’s things to keep a body busy.

A Prelude

When I was fourteen years old and living with my family on a forty acre farm in western Wisconsin, the United States had its 200th anniversary.

Gads, the yearlong hoopla we endured. The best thing I remember about it was the bicentennial commemorative quarter, along with the sixty-second history lessons during TV commercial time. 1976-bicentennial-quarter

The country had managed to survive for 200 years, of course, but that was something my fourteen year old self took for granted.

That same year, I came across a story by Isaac Asimov called The Bicentennial Man, specially commissioned to take advantage of the national birthday hype. The story went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette of 1977, a really big deal in the sci-fi world.

In short, The Bicentennial Man introduces us to a robot named Andrew who comes to develop human sensibilities, even, you might say, a human soul.

In order to assert his humanity in the eyes of others, he makes himself, through transplants, increasingly organic, thus voluntarily taking on the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”

Still not recognized by the world government as human, Andrew undergoes a procedure that results in the deterioration of his otherwise immortal positronic brain leading to his Becentennial Man movie poster 1997eventual death.

Mere moments before his death, the world government grants Andrew the recognition he craves and could only get, it seems, by dying.

A big point of the story is that only when Andrew abandons his mechanical immortality and shares in the same fate as mortal humans can he in fact be considered human.

No doubt our mortality defines much of our human experience. However, I don’t believe that mortality is essential for making us human. Up until now, mortality has just been rather difficult to avoid.

The Not So Long Bet

We humans are clever creatures. If there is a way out of the grave, we will find it. I suspect the time for ridding death of its sting is close approaching.

Back in 1976, I thought to myself that it would be fun to be around for the tricentennial, (or what I have since learned is more properly called the tercentenary—-doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well).

All it would take to see the tercentenary is living to age 114. How hard could it be? All one has to do was keep on breathing and not get killed anytime in between.

What’s The Plan?

It’s fine and good to want to live a long, long time, but what can a person actually do to kick the can farther down the road of eternity?

Eat your vegetables, exercise thirty minutes a day, don’t smoke, and so on and so forth.

Somehow, I don’t think tai chi or a daily multivitamin, or any of the usual suspects, are going to be enough all by themselves.

Mister Immortal is about finding trustworthy, workable answers to the questions about how we can extend our lives and our good health indefinitely.

We’ll either succeed, or we’ll die trying.

I’m not a scientist or a doctor, but I do have a certain native intelligence, skepticism and deftness for research that I propose to put at your disposal. Together, we can take a look at what the experts are doing in the area of life-extension and arbitrate what makes most sense for us.

A lot is happening; there is much more to come. Keeping it straight will be a job in itself.

Sorting through the information overload and making sense of it is what we’re all about.

That, and living well and vigorously for a really long time.

Maybe you’ve got some ideas that will be helpful. Let me know what you think. I value your thoughts.

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