Death

So I was racking my brains for some notion of original content. Everything seems to have been written about in the Manosphere at one point or another, and usually what ends up coming out is just some sort of pseudo-amalgamation of a rehash of a mishmash of everyone else’s ideas, with a cherry on top. I cast about my mind, and thought “What beliefs do I hold which are considered unusual, even amongst my peers in this part of the internet?” And then it struck me – death. (Not literally of course – or else I wouldn’t still be typing this.) More so my attitude to the whole thing. Bear with me as I go through this, and congratulations if you don’t think I’m at least a bit mental by the end.

It is accepted by everyone I can think of that death is the single certainty in life. There’s no escaping it, it will come to us all. Many people wilfully delude themselves for their entire lives with this weird thing called “religion”, simply so they don’t have to face up to the scary thought that when they die, their existence will snuff out into the void as if they never were, like the speck of universal insignificance that they really are. Much better, no, to believe in a lovely land of delightful love and joy in the clouds? Pah. I think you can guess my attitude towards such beliefs.

For those of us who grew up atheists, the concept of death and the acceptance of such came early in life. The endless fretting, fearful of when it would happen, terrified that not enough or sufficiently varied life experiences could be crammed into our time on this planet. And then the realisation that it probably doesn’t matter all that much anyway, since once we’re gone we’re not going to remember any of it anyway.

However, those amongst my friends who were devoutly religious and then came to the enlightenment of atheism in their adult years found it especially difficult. Suddenly bereft of their pink fluffy mental safety net, and forced once and for all to stare at the spectre of the grim reaper straight in his hollow eye sockets, they quailed to their core, and spent several long months staring blankly into their pint down the pub every Saturday afternoon, in some sort of deep existential crisis.

Honestly, it’s never really troubled me that much – and I’ll tell you why. I don’t actually believe I’m going to die.

“You’re mad!” I hear you cry. Or maybe not, but probably you’re thinking something along those lines. Perhaps. But there’s a good reason I think how I do. I’ve been obsessed with futurism for as long as I can remember, particularly a few years ago when I followed a number of prominent Transhumanist and Futurist writers, such as Michael Anissimov and Raymond Kurzweil, who seem to have come more into the mainstream public consciousness in recent years.

When you read up on the current state of cutting edge research, into cryonics and nanotechnology, you realise that as a man in his 30s – or of course younger – the advent of permanent life extension technology may well come about during our lifespans. And even if it does not, by the time I hit 70 and have to start thinking about my own mortality, cryonics will be sufficiently advanced to preserve my brain, and along with it my lifetime of experiences and personality, with the ultimate goal of thawing it out when technology is sufficiently advanced to repair whatever was wrong with me, or even grow me a new body.

If the human race survives long enough without blowing itself up, I consider this to be an inevitability. Even if nothing else gets there first, true nano-scale robots, able to interpret your own genome, will eventually be created with the ability to build organic matter a single atom at a time. As far as I am concerned, the only thing which needs to be preserved in its original condition is the brain – and even then it could be converted to an artificial substrate, molecule by molecule, until none of the fragile original remained. Transhumanists believe it will be possible to “upload” your consciousness on to some sort of electronic device at some point in the future – since your thoughts and emotions are essentially just electrical impulses travelling on a biological substrate, this seems reasonable at first look, no? But at what point when the essence of my consciousness is transferred from my grey matter and on to a computer does it cease to be me any more, and just become an identical copy of me? That’s a question for the philosophers perhaps.

Of course, this pursuit of immortality will be the preserve of the rich. Being cryogenically frozen is actually available relatively cheaply at the moment, on the scheme of things. It requires relocating to the vicinity of the facility as you approach your demise, such that upon being declared legally dead you can be whisked off and turned into a popsicle as quickly as possible – the longer your brain remains deprived of oxygen for, the more damage that will occur, and the greater the likelihood of irreversible damage to your memories, cognitive function, and essence of who you are. That said, the definition of brain death has changed significantly within recent times – that is to say the length of time which someone has been successfully revived back to normality from a condition of “death” has greatly extended with increasing technology.

But of course, you’ll want the best possible treatment, which will come at a premium. And then you need to leave a hefty wedge of cash in the bank to accumulate interest in your absence, or to be left with a trust, such that when the time comes in the future the instructions you leave behind to have yourself revived and repaired at great expense can be enacted. And then of course, you’re not going to want to work, are you.

Is this my own mental safety net, to avoid having to face up to the facts? Am I as guilty as the religious people whom I deride so stridently? Perhaps. But I think not – my plans are based on real, demonstrable proof of concepts of nano-technology which already exist, and are very likely to come to fruition within our lifetimes.

I, for one, plan to be ready with my millions of pounds when the opportunity arises, to take myself, and my loved ones should I so wish, into a state of potential immortality. So there’s another reason for you to work your ass off and get loaded – in case you needed one.

Of course, whether you’d actually want to live forever is a different question. To have to watch everyone you ever knew grow old and die around you. But imagine having the experience of 70 or 80 years of life, in the body of yourself in your physical prime at 21 years old? If we, as a race, ever make it off this planet to colonise other worlds, I want to be there when it happens. I do not want to be cheated of the opportunity to experience such wonders as could not be imagined due simply to the accident of the year of my birth.

To not at least consider the possibility is to do yourself a disservice I believe. Here’s some further reading.

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26 thoughts on “Death

    • I broke my head a few times around the topic, and it’s my biggest source of fear.
      It is NOT the fact that we die – it is the fact that I can nor imagine living forever as I can imagine death. Its a trap – when I start thinking about the topic I get this really deep fear in my body – I can stop it by stop thinking about it, but I know it will get worse every few years 😦
      So even if I believe in what you suggest, I can’t think of it as a solution to live forever.

  1. It seems feasible that immortality can be physiologically attained, and within our lifetimes. But is it something humans can manage psychologically? I’ve spoken to many of the elder generation who are at peace with death, even welcoming it. Even those who remain fit and healthy tend to be accepting of it. I wonder whether we will not simply get bored of it all after two hundred years or so. What if our minds simply cannot go on, even if the body is made able.

    • How much of the acceptance of death is borne out of the “certain” knowledge that it cannot be avoided? How much of the longing for it from some is caused by the gradual and systematic failure of the body, and the corresponding pain and debilitation that comes with it?

      • I don’t disagree that a lot of the death instinct seems to come from the physical degredation, but as Jeremy said, it is the mental sphere that we cannot predict. This world is filled with as many terrible things as it is good. It would be only too easy to give up or give in.

        I vaguely remember reading a book in which some of the characters have been granted immortality as part of their rewards for working at a supercompany. Over the course of the book the protagonist comes to grips with the fact that she cannot even remember thousands of years of her life. It is hard to tell if the human psyche is capable of withstanding such things outside of the fictional

      • It would indeed be a voyage into the unknown. I think a command of meditative practises would be a requisite, to ensure the best possible chance of retaining a healthy mind, positive outlook and overall sanity.

  2. “If I am, then death is not. If death is, then I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?” — Epicurus

    I think that the pink safety net of life sciences is just as fluffy and pie-in-the-sky as religion. Biological systems degrade and die. Our longer lifespans only now are beginning to help us recognize neurological conditions that advance with the age of the neurons and their connections. If someday they figure out how to inject you with appropriate stem cells to replace your dead/dying neurons, who is to say that your newly established mental pathways will be sufficiently “you”? You may be capable of consistent conscious thinking for thousands of years, but is it really you? Likely not at that point, or at least, your kids who are just 20-30 years younger than you don’t recognize you mentally at that point. There’s some speculation there, but understand that there’s no guarantee that immorality is anything you want to experience.

    There’s also mental fatigue, that literally cannot be medicated away. At some point, you’ll be so upset at having to think about the stupidity of politicians, the inanity of modern media, and the failure of progressive ideas that you’ll want to separate yourself from humanity in a BIG way. Absent any space colonies on which you can go live like a hermit and expand the borders of humanity, you’re stuck with an ever-more-populated and ever-more-inane human world known as Earth.

    Frankly, I think at some point, many humans quite healthily welcome death.

    I would welcome it if in sacrificing my life, I could do something good for humanity. I would gladly sign up for a 50/50 survival mission to Mars. I think death has it’s place in human life, but I’m not exactly going to invite death anytime soon.

    • You raise some interesting points.

      In terms of losing the essence of being “you” by replacing neurons, or even converting the tissue of your brain itself to a non-perishable substrate, it is my belief (and really not based on anything other than conjecture, since it is not possible to do so at this stage) that if you were to make the changes on a tiny incremental scale, one atom at a time over the course of months or years, then at no point would the contiguous essence of “you” be interrupted. I believe that making wholesale changes in a short space of time, such as uploading your consciousness on to a machine, would necessarily lose the essence of your consciousness, and merely create a duplicate.

      As to your other point about dealing with the inanity of the human race… You’re probably correct. I’m sick of it already, and I’m only 31! You would not be alone however in your immortality. Those who would come with you initially would be the most successful and driven individuals, or even your significant other if you wanted. It would ensure at the least you always had a peer group of equals amongst which to compete, or a loved one for support.

      Agreed that immortality is not necessarily something to be desired. But to take back the choice of when to end one’s own life from nature certainly is for me.

      • Keep in mind something else as well. I quoted Epicurus up there. Epicurus’ words have meaning to us today. Epicurus has been dead for nearly 1800 years.

        If everyone is living forever, the dead are actually more meaningful than the living at that point. If everyone is living forever, I have forever to get to know everyone. At some point, living human beings lose value to other human beings, simply because there’s no mystery left. In such a situation, the dead offer the only mystery left, and their recorded words/works become more powerful because they cannot be attacked like a living person can.

      • I can’t really argue with any of what you say. However I still strongly believe that we stand upon the cusp of the advent of permanent life extension, and it simply holds too much allure for it to go away. Initially it will be the preserve of the rich elite, but eventually will filter down to the masses. Massive step changes will take place, societal upheaval. Euthanasia would need to be legalised under such a circumstance.

        At least it won’t be dull

  3. “Many people wilfully delude themselves for their entire lives with this weird thing called “religion”, simply so they don’t have to face up to the scary thought that when they die, their existence will snuff out into the void as if they never were, like the speck of universal insignificance that they really are. ”

    For many its true. For others they are convinced that their beliefs have evidence to back them up.

    • Indeed it’s always a sensitive subject to address, but to my mind at least, the “evidence” to which those people appeal is flimsy, and simply does not hold up under the kinds of scrutiny that scientific theory is held up to.

      There’s a channel on YouTube called “The Atheist Experience”, a guy who used to be devoutly religious who came to atheism, and so is very well versed in all of the usual arguments about “evidence”. He seems to have made it his life’s mission to destroy the rationale of people who believe in a god, and even though some of his callers are a little braindead, you can’t fault the man’s reason or logic (well I can’t, but I’m sure many would!)

      • Yeah. Emotional investment can make religion dangerously sensitive. Destroying a person’s beliefs which feels like a personal attack would only cause a double down to protect his ego. Leaving a breathing space or a way out is a better way of persuasion.

        I will get back to you on the atheist experience.

  4. As far as copying your consciousness goes, it’s very likely our brains are a form of quantum computer depending on entanglement to solve algorithms that current classical computers are incapable of. But modern quantum memory doesn’t last very long yet, as in a minute seconds is considered a very long time (dope yttrium silicate) but it’s hard to put the data in, compared to say NV-cavities that are easier to save states with but don’t last as long. Over time, quantum systems can become disentangled, this could well happen in the brain as well, meaning you may not be much of yourself coming out of the other end unless they can find some way to put that decay of states into stasis.

    • I bow to your superior technical knowledge! The whole concept of mind uploading seems a bit much to me. We don’t even fully understand what it is that gives rise to the consciousness that we experience, let alone how to go about transferring it on to another medium whilst preserving its essence.

      And is it even desirable? Our minds and bodies have evolved in tandem for millennia, the myriad way in which they are intermeshed and communicate with one another. To suddenly remove the body part from the equation is to most likely invite madness.

  5. This is a very timely post. I’ve been meaning to write about death ever since I saw this site put up by a man aged 60 who committed suicide and put his thoughts about life down on a webpage before doing it. I don’t agree with everything he wrote but it’s an interesting perspective on someone who’s coming of age and has decided to kick the bucket.

    A mirror of his site is http://www.zeroshare.info/ – hope this doesn’t land me in the spamfilter.

    I could be extremely, overly and unrealistically optimistic, but part of me feels that a lot of the negative aspects that come with being old are just a lack of the proper nutrition. I probably won’t live past 80 but when I’m 80 I’ll look and feel like I’m 50 or 60.

    As for transhumanists? I’ve seen transhumanism around the interwebz before, the kids and snake oil salesmen who advocate it the most conjure up these big fantasies of having their conscious mind locked up into a computer to live eternally (The Matrix) or to simply never die by some magic medical technology. To me transhumanists just have such a crippling fear of death that it makes me wonder if they’re simply mental. I wonder how scared they will be when faced with death before transhumanist technology reaches fruition.

    But I wonder why they are so scared? Maybe they feel that if they died, they would regret not accomplishing what they wanted to, leaving them an eternity to hang onto that empty hope. Wouldn’t that be hell too, though? The fact that our lives are finite gives us more drive to enjoy what we have and to make the most of this single lifetime, even though we know we won’t accomplish or do or see every little thing. If our lives never ended, who is to say that the lazy side of our humanity wouldn’t take advantage of it in the worst way possible? (i.e. doing jack shit in mom’s basement for millennia — at least pre-Twilight vampires are interesting)

    I think that a reasonable person should be able to feel okay with their life if they knew they had to die in a day or two. If not, and they entertain science-fiction fantasies of eternal life to stave off the mental creep of regret, there’s a big mental problem in there. All of us are too ordinary to enjoy the privilege (or curse) of eternal life.

    • “I think that a reasonable person should be able to feel okay with their life if they knew they had to die in a day or two”

      Yes, agreed entirely. If someone told me I was to die tomorrow, I wouldn’t have too many regrets thankfully.

      But if someone offered me the chance to live indefinitely, in a fit, youthful body, with full control of my mental faculties, until such time as I deemed fit to end my own life? I wouldn’t say no.

  6. http://orgyofthewill.net/
    “Immortality is a bogus idea that only seems credible if one has a very primitive understanding of time. More specifically, if one thinks of time as an idealized dimension that exists apart from all the rest. But we know today that time and space are inextricably bound up, so to extend oneself infinitely in time would also mean to do the same in space, i.e. to crowd out all other lifeforms and destroy them, until the only lifeform, indeed the only thing (since all things are alive) left in the entire universe would be oneself! — “And why would this not be possible for someone like an Overman?”, would at this point be a fair question. — Because “no player can be greater than the game itself” (Rollerball). Because “absolute power” is a contradictio in adjecto. Because The Intelligence of Evil wouldn’t let him. Because “nothing has existence in itself, nothing exists except in dual, antagonistic exchange” (Baudrillard). Take your pick. All these expressions, and many more besides, state the same thing: the fundamental rule of the game. That there must be an opponent.”

    • I think this is a little silly. If I lived indefinitely, I would certainly not crowd out all other lifeforms in the universe. By immortality, in this sense, I refer to the ability to end my life at a time of my own choosing, and not to have it imposed upon me. And to live that life in the body of a young, fit healthy person.

      Philosophical arguments aside, there’s no practical reason this would be an impossibility.

      • In order to become who you are, you had to take from others (all the lifeforms that you have consumed). It is therefore only fair that eventually you should give back what you took. And this giving back is called death. The concept of immortality is stupid, and as I explained easily disproved by an understanding of modern physics.

        I just enjoyed reading your blog and thought I’d help you out with one serious mistake you made. If you are not convinced, that’s fine. Keep trying to amass money to become “immortal” if that’s what makes you happy. It’s all good, dude.

      • Mate, you haven’t easily disproved anything. You’ve uttered some vague philosophical nonsense, and demonstrated a lack of clear understanding of the principles which you’re trying to use to prove a point.

        If you think the universe gives a shit about “fair”, like there’s some cosmic karma, then we are totally not on the same page.

        I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog, but don’t post condescending comments. I would suggest that you ask yourself why exactly you’re so certain about a subject that by its very nature it’s not possible to be certain about. I’m keeping an open mind, you already think you know everything. Not a good intellectual trait.

  7. Except if you really know everything 😉

    And you can’t keep an “open mind” about things you don’t know about. E.g. about physics. You have to study it first before you can keep an “open mind” about it.

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