Benedict de Spinoza, 1632-1677 “We feel and know that we are eternal.”
Susan Ertz, 1894-1985 “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do on a rainy afternoon.”
Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968 “Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.”
Joseph Addison, 1672-1719 “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.”
William de Morgan, 1839-1917“I don't want to achieve immortality by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”
Woody Allen, 1935 - “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. . . I want to achieve it through not dying..”
Medical science has its sights set on cancer, Alzheimers, and heart disease, with bionics as the next frontier. (Remember “The Six Million Dollar Man?”) Bionics makes body parts that fuse with the body, like titanium tooth implants. Early experiments with bionic arms and legs have put people fully back in action, But medical science is already looking past bionics at immortality.
In 1951 a cell line from a cancer victim, Henrietta Lacks, was routinely studied in a lab, and proved to be immortal. Today, 60 years later, the same line, termed “HeLa,” grows vigorously, and shows no sign of aging. Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Cambridge, believes that in the next 30 years, breakthroughs will enable human beings to extend life by 50, 100, 500, 1,000, years, and one day, immortality.
It is impossible to imagine living a thousand years, or what a world of millenarians would be. Star Trek and Star Wars put people like you and me into situations common before Homer wrote The Odyssey. Maybe Ursula LeGuin could imagine a world of immortal humans. I wish she would. My guess; it would be dystopian.
From Caesar to Napoleon to Mussolini, to Hitler, to Muammar Gadaffi, most tyrants engineer their own gruesome deaths. But what if Josef Stalin were still running the Soviet Empire? What if Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected US president for four (4) terms, were still in office?
Until immortality is as easy as a vaccination or popping a pill, it will be out-of-sight expensive, enabling leaders to co-opt minions, cement a Praetorian Guard, and anchor elites. The few immortals, living far above mere mortals, would be unable to comprehend them, like 1% bankers staring down at the Zuccotti Park 99% saying, “What is wrong with those people? Why don’t they just get a job?”