Live Forever

Limitless                                   -                      Limited

The idea that science advances one funeral at a time implies that some/most/all of us are incapable of deep change. We become attached to certain ways of thinking - or rationalise our temperamental biases - like drowning men clinging to debris, and are unable to loosen our grip.

But all ways of thinking are missing something, and over time their vulnerabilities will be exposed. We must be able to adapt to changing circumstances, to update old systems with new.

Were we to live forever then science (and humanity in general) would no longer advance at all, unless we develop our ability to change and adapt over time. So hand in hand with an unlimited lifespan, must come the widespread ability to alter our deep epistemology - to forsake whatever biases we may have, and move with the times.

Evolution is now the responsibility of the individual, rather than the genes.

People will often point to an increased life-span as a sign that our age is an advanced one. It is something we can be proud of. We don't die of this, that and the other. We have nice long lives. 

But what this view does not take stock of is the fact that the way we experience time may have changed.

Things go much faster now, faster than they ever have. We live in an accelerated culture that trades in surface level-snippets. We constantly remark to each other how the years seem to be flying by. "Where did the time go?" And so we seek more of it. Not realising the answer does not lie in more time.

It lies in experiencing time differently. In slowing down.

If we had more time we would inevitably fill it with more stuff. Things would get even faster. More time would become normalised, in the same way that 'more money' becomes normal for the still-unhappy millionaire. How long will it take us to learn the most simple of lessons? That happiness does not lie in accruing more things, more time?

The proverbial caveman who could expect to live to 35 probably experienced a life every bit as long as ours, if not longer. Experience being the crucial word. How did the caveman spend his days and how did this affect his experience of time?

The years don't matter. It is how we experience them.

And it is largely culture that shapes this experience.

In this sense, the insect that only lives for a day - how we pity the wretched thing - undoubtedly experiences a life as long as ours.

Every lifespan is normalised - becomes normal for the creature living it. Culture bends and shifts to accomodate these changes. If we lived longer we would tell different stories. Those born into longer lives would think them every bit as short as ours. Because to them, that span of time - long as it may seem to us - would be totally normal.

How long is long enough? When will we ever be content?

To strive for a longer lifespan for the species is a fool's errand, one of many. It finds its kin in the search for the 'smallest thing' at CERN. All folly springs from the same root; that is, a fundamental lack of wisdom and maturity.

Maturity counts among its virtues the ability to say enough is enough. Here I shall build my home and be content. It does not endlessly seek novelty in the vain hope that happiness lies just around the corner; in the answers that the smallest thing brings; in the contentment of a longer life. It knows that happiness lies in the here and now; in today, not tomorrow. In this hour right here, not at the weekend, or that holiday we have planned in the summer.

We suggest that modern man’s obsession with longevity, and with maintaining physical vigor and sexual attractiveness to an advanced age, is a symptom of unfulfillment resulting from deprivation with respect to the power process. 

The “mid-life crisis” also is such a symptom. So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairly common in modern society but almost unheard-of in primitive societies.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 74

An Ancient Greek legend (presupposed by the Iliad) tells how his mother put before Achilles the choice of whether he wanted a long life, or a short life full of deeds and fame, and how he chose the second. 

[Oswald Spengler]
Man and Technics, p. 29

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