That Superior Feeling, Serdar Yegulalp, on the limits of Immortality and Immortalism
I see only two ways for this to be possible. The first is the one Steven and I have explored before, where the resulting life is not life at all, but a stasis that we can call life only at the great cost of pretending that nothing was ever lost in the first place. The second method is where the costs of living are abolished only by way of force and dominion over others, exercised not just once but unceasingly.
Serdar’s response to my post on “The Hell of Heaven” is based on Barrows Dunham’s Man Against Myth – a book I have not read, but clearly need to, as he explored dangerous myths left after WWII. Some of them sound all too familiar, as he explores a world where a few men tried to sacrifice many for godhood/racial godhood. These are just like what I see in the quest for what I call Simplistic Immortality – “me immortal,” which often fit Serdars second method of immortalism in the above paragraph.
The rest of the post subtly explores the repercussions of the quest for Simplistic Immortality, and that eventually all bills come due and all plans collide with other’s plans. Serdar handles this with great delicacy. I on the other hand am willing to sweep subtlety aside to state things bluntly:
The quest for Simplistic Immortality, that of “I stay I and no one can affect it” makes every person, every phenomena, and the entire universe either the Immortalist’s enemy or slave.
There is no middle ground here. There can’t be. When someone’s topmost goal is to live forever as their idea of themselves, then everything “not-me” is foe or fodder. It may not be for sometime, but eventually a conflict happens, a need arises, and foes are made and fodder consumed.
It’s the end result of Egotism. I-over-all means “all” must be conquered because in a changing world “all” is everything outside of a narrowly defined “I.”
Thus Transhumanism that focuses on Simplistic Immortality isn’t really transhuman at all – that’s the joke, really. It’s the screaming of a child that want’s his way, or the adolescent so convinced that they’re perfect, or the adult who never grew up. It’s regressiveism due to it’s immaturity. It’s inumanism as all must be sacrificed for the supported immortal to live, even his or her own human connections.
This, again, is why the core question of transhumanism is one of identity. quests for Simple Immortality actually fly in the face of Transhumanist goals as they play to an immature self-identity and world-concept. If you’re going to be Transhumanist, get over child’s idea of Heaven or the adolescent idea of King-Over-All.
What I’d like to see in Transhumanist fiction is a take on my idea of “building a better reincarnation” or explorations of self in the future. It’d be a challenging write – and a Pilgerman-level challenging read. But it’d be worth it, I think.*
Let me close with another line from Serdar.
The real hallmark of being more highly evolved is how much more gracefully, without self-contradiction, one can live in the universe — how well one can not only stake a claim but surrender it when the time comes, because that time always comes.
You can’t dodge the bill collector. You can plan, spend wisely, and invest so you pay the bills. But the bills are there.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.
* And yes I actually had some ideas of a mild transhumanist story exploring these ideas but haven’t written it. Oddly, the theme was that a successful future would be hard for someone of our time and place to even recognize.