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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Longevity? It's for Lovers!! (A brief interview with Aubrey De Grey)
    Project: Polytopia
    A short aesthetic exploration into longevity and its implications on our emotional lives- including a brief interview with Aubrey De Grey

    "As for me, she said, I seek not the Lover that completes me, that was good for when I was poor of time, when biology dictated my clockwork, ticking into doom. Now I seek the transmuting agent, the opener of worlds, the substance actuator, that which I will be made to re-spect forever. I seek the intertwined reality of numerous sensations, allowing me to explode into innumerable bright sparks of inquisitiveness, of realigning curiosities of old into new constellations of sense-thought.
    You see, my dear, no longer being constrained by the time of body, I am now the explorer of the body of time, which is love for the me-eternal.

    My desire is fierce into the unknown, parsing joys unheard of, protecting the freedom of ecstasy from the banality of its conclusion.

    That is my job description, the eternal lover. "

    (from an unpublished ultrashort sci-fi story soon to reach completion)

    A short intro

    Over the last few years or so I have heard, read and debated a quasi-infinite number of arguments for and against the prospect of longevity and eventual immortality.
    Most of these arguments were so spurious as to be totally ridiculous and some verged on the absurd.
    And though some arguments apparently made some kind of sense, all I ever heard were arguments based on the current condition of the average human, living a western style of life.
    I have listened to arguments about boredom (a long life equals a boring life), and arguments about duty (we need make space for next generations) and arguments about meaninglessness and arguments about knowing our correct place in the scheme of things (who knew there is such a ‘correct scheme’?).
    I have also heard arguments from nature (extreme longevity is unnatural) and arguments about morals (imagine the staggering amount of resources needed!) and arguments of arrogance and ego and of course arguments about impossibility. I have also been privy to heavy handed discussions on the positive side from the same positions, why its our duty, or moral obligation, or desire, or hubris (in the positive sense) or simply that longevity is a direct and necessary continuation of our evolutionary heritage (a position, indeed, I for some time espoused).

    However, over the above I had never heard an argument in favor of longevity based on the assumption of our emotional desire for increase in aesthetic experience.
    It therefore came to my mind that irrespective to the actual feasibility of extreme longevity, about which I will write more later, the very idea of longevity should be tackled from the standpoint of our deep emotional desire for an increase in aesthetic experience.
    More specifically from the standpoint of our loves and passions, pleasures and sensations, care for our loved ones and the continuation of our emotional evolution.

    Therefore when I had the pleasure of meeting Aubrey de Grey at the Transvision 2010 conference in Milan I approached him with a set of questions that I thought would shed a different kind of light on the vision he supports and promotes and relentlessly pushes forward.
    To those unfamiliar with Aubrey’s work I suggest checking the Methuselah foundation which he co-founded with David Gobel, and the SENS foundation.

    Aubrey was kind enough to answer my very different positional questions with respect to his work, for though I am an ardent supporter of the strive to eliminate suffering and old age and eventually death, it is my view that the main point of attraction should be put forward as a positive and not as a negative. Not because we wish to negate death but because we desire to experience love indefinitely.
    In other words I see extreme healthy longevity as a direct extension of our innate desire as a species to experience life in all its myriad forms, to expand our emotional lives into a body of time, that has no end and no stop sign.

    Here is the brief interview- reported verbatim :

    Wildcat: “Speak from the standpoint of love, a thousand years hence after this moment of nowness, look back, what did you experience in the last 1000 years of love? Why was it worthwhile to be a long lived sentient being?”

    Aubrey De Grey: “That is almost certainly the most speculative question I've ever been asked.... but I hope I will look back and feel that I have experienced the joy of enriching someone's life, and having them enrich mine, with a wide variety of people who have many different qualities types of personality, and that I have become progressively more complete as a person myself as a result, which has allowed me to become better and better at enriching people's lives in the future and at appreciating those people myself.”

    Wildcat: “From the standpoint of now, can you describe, narrate or give some possible impressions of what the future of eroticism implies when we are to become extremely long lived?

    Aubrey De Grey: “I think we will see a progressive expansion and extension of the trends we have seen over the past half-century: the old style of having one long-term partner for one's whole life will continue to be replaced by the style of seeing life as a progression in one's personal development, including one's partnerships. The length of life will be an asset to this, in that it will remove any urgency that might be associated with the biological clock: relationships will evolve, including evolving into termination, at their own pace.”

    Wildcat: “Describe the narrative of health and longevity from the standpoint of beauty, love, eroticism, and pleasure.”

    Aubrey De Grey: “The synergy between health/longevity and beauty/love/etc exists at many levels. It exists at the superficial level (and I don't use the word "superficial" critically here) in the obvious way that health and youth are physically attractive and promote feelings of eroticism and love. But it also exists much more deeply. The knowledge that one's health, and that of one's partner(s), will soon fail has only limited (and questionable) positive effects, intensifying the urgency with which one expresses love; far more important is the benefit of knowing the opposite, that one can deliver and receive all aspects of love for as long as one might wish. A life free of temporal limits is a life free of the other trappings of finitude - the building and repaying of financial or emotional debts, the focus on ensuring support for one's partner after one is gone, etc. Health and longevity are overwhelmingly beneficial to the process of learning how, as individuals and as a species, we can derive ever more fulfillments from the greatest gift that life has to offer - the gift of love.” (Bold emphasis mine)

    The last statement of Aubrey represents a view and perspective that I think in most current media publication is sorely lacking. We are in fact so preoccupied with questions of health and hazards, whether to ourselves or to the world that we forget why we desire to live a healthy and long life in the first place.
    I do not believe that mere subsistence in and of itself is a good enough reason to extend one’s life, not to my mind it isn’t.

    “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

    Arthur Schopenhauer

    If the limits we put on our visions is the limits we imply upon the world, I think it is time to extend our visions beyond survivability and mere reproduction to a vision based on aesthetics. A vision of extreme longevity and healthiness, that finds its very raison d’être in a lover’s paradise.
    Yes, I am aware, of how cliché that may sound to some ears and eyes as the case may be, and yet if we are to promote a future of beauty and exploration, a future we co-create for our own joy and the pleasure of our loved ones, mingling eventually our insatiable curiosity and our amazing know how, a future for love is what I desire.

    Here is a morsel to savor:

    To feel the love of the people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses—that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.”

    Pablo Neruda

    Now imagine this widening of our boundaries, this unification of all living things, extended across time. isn't this a good enough reason to desire extreme longevity?


    This is the second in a series of interviews under the heading of a new project :
    Free Radicals- interviews with possibilities

    Free radicals are extraordinary humans that promote the emergent paradigm shift of post humanity.
    There is no claim of objectivity here but an unabashed bias towards a techno-optimistic, aesthetically pleasing future evolution of humanity.
    The humans I have chosen to interview reflect different perspectives of multidimentionality and multiversality as regards the change and transformation of human nature.

    Tue, Nov 23, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Aubrey de Grey,Longevity,Love,Interview
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    shiftctrlesc     Tue, Nov 23, 2010  Permanent link
    A beautiful piece wildcat.
    Very interested in seeing where these patterns of thought take you (and us).

    Re: the Free Radicals project:
    At it's core, is techno optimism really any different than techno pessimism?
    Wildcat     Wed, Nov 24, 2010  Permanent link
    Thanks for the comment headmine, I am glad you liked it.
    as for your question: "Re: the Free Radicals project:
    At it's core, is techno optimism really any different than techno pessimism?"

    well, its an interesting position that you have taken here, namely the equivalence of optimism and pessimism as regards technology and for starters let me say that in principle I do agree that the difference is to a certain extent superficial, however, I think that at present we should use the G.Bateson maneuver of reflection upon 'differences that make differences' as a thought strategy.
    the main reason is that though when in deep reflection there is no such difference, on the immediate frontal cortex strata of perception we do need take what I like to call: " a stance on immediacy"- in this respect yes there is a difference in the sense of where to invest our meager resources of time ,energy and vision propagation.
    shiftctrlesc     Mon, Nov 29, 2010  Permanent link
    "Negative thinking is a luxury we can't afford." ... yoko ono