Deep Field

Rick Knight (
Thu, 03 Jul 97 11:21:36 CST

Just got some snazzy Win95 wallpaper (okay the resolution could be
better) of the composite photo of the Hubble Deep Field, a patch of
sky 1/30th the diameter of the full moon and completely dark as viewed
by the human eye. Hubble's images are billions of times greater than
what we could see. The astronomers set their sight on this dark area
of the sky only to render a field with hundreds of GALAXIES. Even if
it's not infinity, it's inifite ENOUGH (there's that debate over
ENOUGH again <G>) for we present-day pre-immortal beings.

I've just been with that feeling of awe for a few days, the incredible
enormity of it all. We are looking out farther and looking in deeper
(both physically and mentally). It seems that as we become a smaller
and smaller blip in the vastness, we become more aware of our
fundamental connection to it all.

This morning, some very unattractive old guy in an even-less
attractive clunker of a van cut me off at an intersection. Living in
a dense urban area, one's instinct is to chide, flip off, grumble some
protest (which I did). However, it's starting to hit me more and more
that as soon as I say that, something says back "He's you". Today,
this prompted a philosophical question of why/how could he be ME? Why
am I considering that I am not the isolated individual, but part of a
continuum where we are just beginning to free exchange ideas, energy
and contribution?

Further, what is selfhood that it could be supposedly preserved
chemically and resurrected from deep freeze? What is life without the
context of familiarity? Does it take only an advanced intellect to
re-adapt to an unrecognizeable future to which you suddenly awaken?
Or does it take a disconnected heart as well? Does the person with
irrecoverable amnesia, who remembers no past, has no context, no
affinity with lovers, family, even children...has that original
unrecoverable person died since there is no self context? Is one's
self an energy, an essence? Or is the physiology of our bodies a
conduit and containment field for that which is us? At the end of
life, are we just as willing to give up the notion of the self we've
amassed as we would a role in a play and just go onto another role
(human, explicitly sentient or not) in the continuum of
energy/information exchange in this vastness?

If I had to choose ongoingness of my personal awareness, I'd choose an
uploading and storage of my experiences because that's more me than my
body which seems to curiously change from year to year. Freezing my
body (or even more whimsically, my head) seems a rather quaint notion.
Does extropian thinking focus so much on the physically proven and
sound as to consider this the most preferable and viable solution to
achieving "immortality"? As a mental exercise, I wonder what
discoveries of the essence, the unforseen would radically change such
notions? That which is beyond the horizon where the fishermen's wives
are no longer visible from the shore and you are going on gut instinct
and conviction.

The Deep Field photo struck me in somewhat the same way the end of the
second Moriarty episode of ST:TNG where they were able to convince him
into believing he was no longer a holographically conjured character
but a free, sentient and physically REAL person. But in the *actual*
reality, (the Star Trek reality), he was only a program with plenty of
storage in a small cube, perfectly content and oblivious to any
preconceived limits other than his own perceived mortality.

Personally, I'm rather curious about what happens to a "self" released
from physical containment. I suppose for some extropians, in comes
down to going for the likelier (or preferred) outcome: being
resurrected physically in a more advanced future Earth or being
separated from a pre-established self and assimilated into the unknown
(which could also include just ceasing to "be" in a physical and/or
self-aware capacity). Is life extension enough? Is even immortality
enough? Seems like life without challenge and quest is apathy and
inertia, once assured comfort has become mundane and there's no energy
one needs to devote towards the most inane survival issue.

To subscribe to life extension methods such as cryonics, I'd have to
be more sure of what "life" is. Too many details missing from this to
make an informed decision. To me, it's akin to a kid saying, when I
grow up, I want to be a firefighter, all because s/he likes the trucks
and the uniform and is completely oblivious to the danger and
personality type required for such a job. Maybe that's enough of a
notion to go fot it. For me, cryonics sounds like a better spin on
life may get to enjoy it. Gentlemen, place your bets.