Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fountain of Youth 13: The Psychological Distress of Immortality

What Else Is There? (2012) © by oO-Rein-Oo at Deviant Art. Reproduced with kind perimission.

On January 30, novelist Jonathan Franzen expressed his worries to the Guardian that ebooks would corrode values and diminish an appreciation for paper books (thanks to -J.).  "All the real things are dying off," he sighed.  This provoked plenty of sharp criticism in the comments, for example: "Jonathan Franzen warns that people shouldn't travel by train as the greater than horse carriage speed may suffocate passengers through an involuntary inhalation of ether."

But Franzen made one thought-provoking comment that, if extrapolated, could explain why we age:
"One of the consolations of dying is that [you think], 'Well, that won't have to be my problem'," he said. "Seriously, the world is changing so quickly that if you had any more than 80 years of change I don't see how you could stand it psychologically."
This got me thinking about the primary cause of ageing.  What if the primary reason we age is not physical, as futurists such as Kurzweil would have us believe?  What if we age because our brains are hard-wired to exist for no more than 100 years at the absolute limit?  What if our brains cannot handle the psychological test of ageing, combined with historic change in our environment?  What if it's our brains that begin short-circuiting the body, forcing it to collapse and ultimately fail?  What if ageing is a measure of how we are mentally able to adapt to change, or not adapt to it?  Conversely, does that mean that the true elixir of life is a case of mind over matter?

See all my posts on the Fountain of Youth.

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  1. you've hit the nail on the head there.
    excellent observation.

    i am in my late 40s -- not "old in my head" -- i still study and have learned other languages.
    i am in good physical shape (i take care of myself).
    i have everything to live for --a teenage child who still needs me around, loving friends, many passions, and a naturally optimistic outlook.

    honestly though, after all the changes i've witnessed in the past decade, especially in the
    past few years have me thinking that i've had plenty of experiences.
    and maybe i don't need to live to be 80.

    i thoroughly care about what happens to humanity and the planet -- i have a child who is inheriting this world, and i feel my responsibility to that child and everyone else's children, very deeply.

    i personally do not seek immortality and seriously wonder about anyone who does.

    i feel that the vampire trend seems to play into the transhumanist scenario.
    it's almost as if they are presenting the public with the a lot of opportunities to really consider the idea.
    and i've observed that once people begin to debate/discuss ideas, it means that those ideas are at least half way to being accepted.

    never thought the world would look like this, when i was growing up in the 70s and musing about what life would be like when i was (almost) 50.

    warm regards,

  2. Yes, one of the themes on this blog is the watershed - most of the posts here deal with it in generational commentaries - between the pre- or early-computer age (say, up to the mid-80s) and the onset of computers, and the flood, which started around 1995. When you look at 1975 versus 1995 you really are looking at day and night. Yes, there were continuities, but the impact of the communications revolution has been profound, and it is not done yet. I sometimes wonder how much change people can absorb.