Re: Death

E. Shaun Russell (
Fri, 26 Jun 1998 23:10:12 -0700

Damien Broderick wrote:
>Although the Genome Project will accelerate the knowledge base for direct
>genetic intervention, there is very much more in an organism (especially a
>person, as Hofstadter makes us remember, eyes prickling) than is to be
>found even in a total DNA map. The ethical consequences of the new
>sciences are formidable, even before the acceleration of science and
>technology turns into an headlong ascent and death is put to rout (if that
>ever happens). We need to be prepared well and truly in advance. We need
>to learn how to think clearly about both death and life.

Beautiful post, Damien. As I think most list members will agree,
the whole continuing tapestry of life is worth far more than the composition
of chemicals and cells within the body and the brain, and yet nothing seems
to emphasize this more than the present inevitability of death. So the
question arises: if death is one day conquered, will life be worth so much?
Though this may sound somewhat existential, the question is quite valid.

My first instinct is to define all that I find beautiful in life
right now...all the things which I could not feel or experience if I was
not currently living. Needless to say, that is a lot. Every sight I see,
every thought I think, every move I make; these are all aspects of life.
When I listen to a song I love, or read a book that moves me...when
compared to the
utter lack thereof, I cannot help but see the utter beauty of these
fragments of pure life.

A major downpoint (in my opinion) in the general views of society is
the tendency to take so much for granted. This may have something to do
with the tremendous stigma attached to death --the sheer lack of life.
When a loved one dies, the memories always seem to focus on the seemingly
minor aspects of life: things that were perhaps overlooked or
underestimated at the time of their occurence; but such things turn out to
be infinitely precious. The unacknowledged hug given while one is alive,
becomes an aspect of life, upon death, that could have been cherished a
little bit more. To know that the immense potential of one's consciousness
--one's own *self*-- has been abruptly quelled by death, seems to
illustrate all the more vividly how much more life should really be enjoyed.

Ultimately, this leads to the humanistic reason for extending the
human lifespan. Logically, the longer one lives, the more time one has to
enjoy his life...the more time one has to create new ideas and explore new
internal and external frontiers --and why not? I strongly believe that if
everybody cherished their own life more than what they do now, there would
be more respect for life as a whole. Absolutely nothing on this world has
more value than one's own individual consciousness, and yet so few people
choose to acknowledge this. Most Christian faiths teach people to blindly
believe in an unproved God, and to await what He has in store for them. So
how can people love the here and the now if their fates are predetermined
and their earthly lives have no "real" meaning? No, life is so much more
than that.

Every choice I make is my own, and the only thing that can hinder
that is death...the lack of life, and lack of individual consciousness. As
such, I want to live forever; if I can't live forever, I want to live as
long as I possibly can. Every day will open up new possibilities for me.
Every second I live presents new thoughts and new options. Though the
probability of life extension lies purely in scientific exploration, how
that life is used is totally in the hands of the individual. In the words
of Natasha V. More: "I am the architect of my existance." Can any words be
more beautiful or true?

-E. Shaun Russell

E. Shaun Russell Musician, Poet, Extropic Artist
==============================> Transhumanities editor for Homo Excelsior
Kineticize your potential.