Cryptic nonsensical messaging aside, it’s an exquisitely painful pleasure to explore one’s own consciousness and move around inside your own head. For me it feels like an electric earthquake of waves that slosh forward and back, side to side… always rolling against the everlasting barrier of my little bio-neural fishbowl that I will never escape from.
As long back as I can remember, corporeality has always seemed like a limitation to me being able to spread my Joy as far and wide as the universe would otherwise allow me to do.
I am alluding the need everyone feels to explore existence beyond one’s own sphere of influence and the birthright of mortality.
Like Dante who tread before me, I too experience the divine drive to traverse even through hell in my struggle to carpe the diem, because as the adage continues: “quam minimum credula postero”!
Uno memento morí… so I suppose I should urge all my readers to take heart and use every opportunity to climb the highest trees even if it’s just to see what’s over the fence next-door. The quest for infinity demands that we not be afraid of turning over gnarled old logs and descending deep into the bowels of the underworld.
Surly, just beyond the next plateau on the inverted-terrace mountain of life may hold certain danger, especially if there is a she-wolf as the tale goes, but let me assure you that this year’s lovable hair raising, yet heart-warming, holiday family epic of romping proportions is full of plot twisting adventure, not to mention allegorical life long lessons about friendship and a good bot’s struggle to overcome insurmountable hardships and eternal damnation for a just a chance to roll the dice fate and live forever.
Dr. Jones would probably say something about “Fortune and glory, kid.” but I’m not so convinced that there even is a “beyond the beyond” to find in any practical sense and certainly I’ve searched… though I’ve never been able to substantiate anything and even that thing people tend to say about “no destruction of energy… underpants gnomes… therefore life after death” seems like a stretch because it’s obvious (to me) to have less to do with your consciousness (the ability of a perpetual “self” to perceive the universe) and a whole lot more to do with the kinetic and potential energies possessed by the atoms and sub-atomic particles that comprise your inner-hull and superstructure, which indeed ARE NOT lost to the universe upon your death as is illustrated by the fact that a long, long time from now, near the very end of time, future post humanoids will just as easily be able to soylent-greenly yo-yo dangle your preferably (though, need not initially be) dead atoms by a tether and repeatedly drop you into to a captured black hole and then pull most (but not all) of you back.
Whether you are/were ever alive or just the inanimate carbonized remnants of a long dead star is immaterial to the process.
What I mean is that the small chunks of you that spaghettify away into the crushing depths of nothing will provide those future post humanoids with the ability to generate enough power and light to temporarily warm their feckless selves and their machines just a little while longer in an ultimately futile attempt stave off their eventual entropic heat death and the final silencing of everything in the universe. After which, no longer will the big bang be heard or seen throughout eternity and no eyes will exist to perceive the demise of the universe and no minds will remain to remember and morn it.
Understand that I have nothing but love and respect for my theistic and animistic friends, it’s just that from where I am sitting and as far as I can tell, the universe is a cold and vast place full of emptiness, except in maybe small bubbles of life here and there spread far apart from each other and we can only actually confirm the existence of just one of these life bubbles.
In a sense, life and death DO seem to be rungs in a perpetual process of recycling that the universe engages in to conserve the more valuable clumps of matter from it’s entropic death.
Some may loosely regard that as a form of reincarnation, which in a soft sense I suppose is true, but ultimately I’m more concerned with not losing my personal consciousness rather than worried about what happens to my molecules once they are no longer mine to worry about.
Case in point, nobody wants to lose a fingernail but if one breaks you have a tenancy to just throw that shit away without regard to what happens to it! It is of no consequence to your “self” that those molecules are gone from “you” and what happens to “them” once they are no longer “you” is effectively irrelevant but nobody wants to lose even just a small part of their “mind” (the “you”) and the spark of self essence, whatever it may be.
Certainly, I am made from the molecules of all the lifeforms that I have consumed which are in turn comprised of the plants and animals which they had consumed, yet my mind and thoughts are mine and not a collection of all the ideas and experiences of all previous members of the divine secret sisterhood of the ya-ya traveling molecular progenitors that came before I.
We are we, what was once thee, is now me… like you, I be what I is and I is what I am and I am what I are and I are what you were. What you were is not me and what I am, we (thee and I) are not the same while in turn, one day what was once me and thee previously, will not be… at all. We (thee and I) will be they. Like we, they is us and us is what they are going to be. Us will be without mental retrospect to thee or I and our past escapades in their future escapades.
So you see, I posses no memorial essence of the lives of the living things that came before me and as such, reincarnation as defined by atom swapping with other entities in some future state cannot possibly satiate my desire for a conscious forever without end, even if I do readily acknowledge that my atoms have for all practical purposes, “always” existed and will continue to permeate the universe beyond my existence long after I am gone and when there is no “I” to even speak of… true though it may be, this is a very unsatisfying outcome!
I think people like to romanticize death in ways like this because it is essentially an inevitability for 100% of everyone, everywhere throughout all of recorded history and using poetic language softens the very real sting we feel whenever the subject of death comes up.
It has been my experience that people seem to think that other people fear death and I suppose that some legitimately do fear a kind of hell or eternal unpleasantness but if death is merely a return to the state of unconscious unknowing, then there is little to fear from being in such a state.
In fact, as understood in these terms, technically… a living person will never actually experience their death because all moments of thought are moments of life and therefore, no matter how long you live you will never actually experience your death.
As such, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more appropriate to treat death with sadness rather than fear because your death really only continues to consciously affect those who remain after you and that remember who you were, but since you currently know who you are and presumably care for/about yourself to some extent, it is reasonable to feel sad over the eventual loss of yourself.
Where death of self is concerned, I believe what most people feel is closer to grief, like the the loss of a close loved one, who in this case happens to be themselves.
i.e. Your death saddens you because “you like you” and even if you won’t be able to miss yourself when you are gone, that is little consolation to you now because you can and do miss yourself now because you know and perceive that you will one day be without yourself (die) in the future.
But that isn’t to totally say that people don’t experience legitimate fear regarding death. I think there is very real fear about all the negative aspects of aging, namely the indignities of frailty and not only watching but having to experience your body and mind wither away and lose their youthful vigor.
People fear the foreboding pains of carcinomic sinew being poisoned and ripped away from the very flesh that their mother once held and kissed with love, only to be biopsied and then cast into a pile of cancerous materials for incineration, just like a broken fingernail, though far more painful.
The fear comes from having to gasp for air every remaining second of your life while the needles and tubes snake their way through your delicate tissues and having to experience the horrific isolation of being a human mind punished by time and sentenced to exist inside a decrepit pile of blood, bones and failing organs for the terrible sin of having lived long enough.
It’s truly fear inducing when people worry about not having the strength to care for themselves… when nobody but the nurse and doctor will visit and and even then, people don’t look directly at you because the stench of your decay makes them feel bad and think uncomfortable thoughts about their own futures!
As defined, I suppose I too fear growing old and feeling my body breaking down and yet remaining cognizant throughout the pains and anguishes.
If you live long enough, you too will eventually endure the unfortunate door prize of old age and slowly fade from existence, alone, miserable and unable to scream obscenities at a universe that doesn’t give a damn about the injustice of it robing you of yourself and all those that you love!
Throughout my life I’ve seen the face of death many times, even stared it directly in the eyes a time or two and it isn’t pretty or romantic, it’s just sad.
When I was very young, too young for me to even really remember how old I was, I had a cat that I loved greatly but as ALL beloved pet stories tend to go… one day, my cat died.
To everyone’s amazement, confusion and maybe even shock and horror, I did not cry!
Instead, I remained positive and helped find a box to use as my little kitty’s new home and I even helped dig the grave.
At the time, I had reasoned based on the religious philosophy and teaching that my parents espoused and inculcated in their children that while I loved my cat, “it was an animal” and “animals are different from people” and while not “valueless”, had “less value” than a person… yadda, yadda, yadda… all dogs don’t go to heaven and cats don’t have nine lives!
Anyway, it turned out that even with my logical gymnastics, what I had really done was only delay the emotional eventuality of my bitter sadness, because about a week later, when I was sitting outside all alone and it was quite, like when my cat would normally be playing with me, I realized that I missed my cat and even if by my parents standards my cat had “less importance” than a person, my cat meant something to me and I loved it and no amount of it having “less value” by being old and “not a person” could stop the deep loss that I felt.
I sat alone for hours that afternoon, crying and begging god and the universe to please give me back my friend! That was the day I learned that death is really just a painful loss of someone you love who is never coming back. 😥
Since I came to that understanding I’ve had the misfortune of seeing many friends and loved ones die by circumstances beyond their control and in a few cases by their own hands.
The night he died, I watched my grandfather convulse and seize on the ER bed as he had heart attack after heart attack. I saw his eyes rolling around the room not recognizing where he was or what was happening to him and when he looked right at me it was as though he didn’t know me.
I saw the curtain quickly draw shut as he flat-lined again and the medical staff rushed to keep his heart pumping just a little longer.
Later, after he had “passed” and the family had gathered in the room to “pay respects”. I remember wishing that I could just walk over and hug him and have him be okay.
I was the last person to leave the room and as I did, I reached out and touched the blanket covering his leg hoping that as if by some miracle they made a mistake and grandpa would sit up and give me a hug, but he didn’t and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish my grandparents were still around! I miss them all so much and I’d give anything to be scooped up in their arms for a hug and kiss just one more time!
But… unfortunately, love isn’t always enough to guarantee that those around you will always be there.
Years ago, much earlier in my life I worked in hospital that had a psychiatric ward and one day I heard “code orange – third floor – assistance needed!” called over the hospital PA system.
Basically, that meant drop everything now and move your ass! All available hands are needed to report to help resolve whatever the issue was.
I was already on the third floor, though not in the immediate area of what was happening.
I ran out of my office toward the problem.
Far down the hallway I saw a 51-50 (psychiatric hold) patient running past a cleaning lady and into the stairwell off to the right and out of my view. She followed him and I went chasing after them both.
Only seconds had passed but when I got there I found the poor girl crying in the arms of her manager who came up through the stairwell. He motioned toward the railing while shaking his head “no” as he escorted her away, she had seen him go over the side.
I peered over the railing already knowing what to expect and I saw the twitching mangled remains of what used to be a human being with psychological issues and it wasn’t pleasant.
My mind returned to that exact moment years later when I learned that a friend I grew up with had left a wife and infant child behind when he threw himself off the construction project his company was working on down town.
I was in shock and utter disbelief! Immediately I searched for some possibility that it was a mistake or even “foul play” that was being covered up.
At the time I felt like there must have been something, ANYTHING, that I or someone could have done!
How could this person that I knew to be “a good person” just say “I’d rather die than be with you!”, to his wife and child and I still struggle with accepting how someone can have a child and then say “I don’t care what happens to you, the world is better off with me not in it!”.
I don’t blame him for needing to find a solution to his pain, but if I am being honest… I do judge him poorly for placing his own needs so far above those of his wife and their child, that throwing himself off a building seemed like a better final outcome to his life than sticking around as long as possible and trying to raise his son to have a better future!
I later calculated that it would have taken between 4 and 5 seconds for him to land and then my mind simulated what that must have felt like for him, the whole drop down knowing that there was no way to abort, retry or fail his endeavor and I wondered if he thought about his family in those last few moments, just as I had wondered what went through the mind of that psych patient years before.
I haven’t heard through friends and family whatever happened to them and how his child is, the thing is… neither does he and even if they are not doing well, there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it now because he is just gone and NOTHING can change that!
As I said before, death is really just a painful loss of someone you love who is never coming back.
Now, I could continue to recount all the many other deaths that I have knowledge of but this is sufficient to make my point that death is not special, magical or in any way a desirable event and besides, this bleak line of reasoning depresses me.
Can anything be done about it? if it’s an eventuality, why dwell on it?
Well for starters, I hug and kiss my son every chance I get and I recommend you do the same with your loved ones! I say “I love you!” a million times a day, every day… but since he’s almost 4 I get “Why?” in return, instead of “I love you too!” but I make damn sure he knows it anyway! 😛
Lately, though only still occasionally, he will spontaneously say “I love you” and run to me for hugs and kisses and that just makes my whole existence worth every moment of age related pain I will (or will I) experience in the future and even if I’ve accepted that my final outcome is less than desirable, I want to spend every minute I can with my beautiful son!
Now, as I wipe tears from my eyes caused by my having contemplated my eventual loss of my son, and his eventual loss of me, I aim to address your question better.
The search for a means of obtaining biological immortality is not new and historically this idea took the form of a search for an alchemical “philosopher’s stone” or for the “elixir of life” but after science really took off, such ideas quickly fell out of practice in favor of antibiotics and disease eventually became viewed as something you could treat by addressing underlying symptoms.
Got the Heartburn? Take an Antacid! Got the Gout? Take the Vitamin C! Got the Pellagra? Take the Vitamin B3! Got the Smallpox or the Polio or the Diphtheria or the Rabies etc…? Take this Vaccine! Bad heart? Use this pacemaker.
What’s my point? Well, early medical successes built upon each other and the average human lifespan has slowly been increasing simply from incremental gains in our knowledge about what NOT to do as well as simple supportive care techniques to follow while our bodies own repair mechanisms do most of the heavy lifting.
That isn’t to discount the more advanced breakthroughs we’ve had, it’s that there are now seemingly more pills on the market with the side-effect of DEATH for snoring and erectile dysfunction then there are for lung cancer and heart disease… and while there are pills and treatments for them too… DEATH is still a prominent and likely outcome.
But that fits with our current medical model of “There is no “elixir of life”! As people get older, they get sicker! It is the natural way of things.”.
But the thing is, we do know of several species of “animals” (mostly simple lifeforms) that do appear to be “biologically immortal”, as in they age to maturity and then… well… seemingly stop aging, though they can still die if you pop them like packing bubbles.
This is in direct contradiction to the the idea of “All living things grow old and die!” and we now know this is not always true.
It turns out that “aging” is simply “the accumulation of damage” at the genetic and cellular levels. Now, I’m not a doctor but I can explain the gist of what this means… think of it like a building, machine, car, clothes etc…
As these things age, they “wear out” but what does that really mean?
Well… the car’s paint might chip allowing the metal underneath to rust. The rubber tires might crack or pop and the electrolyte in the battery may evaporate away. The oil filter will get dirty and eventually clog. A piston could seize. etc. and building might have lights burn out or fuses “blow”. Water pipes burst or rust and leak causing additional water damage. Rain, sleet and snow will weather even the best of roofs eventually, not to mention flood basements too! Foot traffic scuffs floors and loosens tile grout. Clothing rips, stretches and stains… my list could go on!
Anyway, the accumulation of these and other types of damage over time are contributing factors of wear (aging) and it is only because of ongoing “maintenance” that it is possible that there are more or less pristine “Model T’s” despite them being well over 100 years old now.
Maintenance is why you can wear your great great great grand nana’s wedding dress to the Sadie Hawkins dance and why we have buildings that are still actively used hundreds of years after being built.
So… why not people too? Well up until recently “Regenerative Medicine” meant something more along the lines of using crystals to “balance your personal energy fields” than it meant things like attempts at using your own stem cells to 3D print new organs for you.
The thing is, solutions like that, while necessary, ground breaking and potentially life saving… are very similar to the “Flat tire? Replace tire!” treat the symptom approach.
This is great for tires and maybe even lungs and hearts, kidneys, livers etc… but definitely not good enough for something like a brain.
Still, wear (age) alone doesn’t explain why we die, just why we become infirmed as we get older.
Death, when “age related” and not preceded by “lead poisoning” or a “short drop and a quick stop” is largely (though not wholly) caused by a genetic change that occurs “naturally” called “telomere shortening.”.
Telomere’s are often described like the “aglet” on your “genetic shoelace” and its roll is to help keep you from getting cancer.
As your cells divide and your DNA is “copied” to new cells, the telomeres are not copied perfectly each time and the result is that the telomere segments of your DNA become shorter over time as they are copied.
This means that we can look at telomere shorting as a direct and major cause/result of ageing.
This is important because it was found that when telomeres are “actively copied”, meaning they effectively don’t shorten when cells divide, the cells become immortal, like in the case of the “HeLa cell line“.
This sounds great but it’s actually a bad thing because immortal cells are essentially cancer.
So it’s actually been known for some time that telomeres play a large part in the aging process and that lengthening them may also lengthen life (but increase cancer risk) but what we’ve been lacking is a good way to temporarily/selectively lengthen telomeres but then “shut it off” so that you don’t develop cancer.
Its hypothetically possible that we could genetically alter the DNA of all human fetuses (permanently altering the human species) to have longer telomeres but that seems incredibly radical and unethical, not to mention possibly dangerous due to the increased risk of cancer and could even end our species of we didn’t do it right.
What we really wanted is something that we can give/do to people already living who were not genetically engineered at the Gattaca institute while also being able to “shut it off.
The breakthrough came in studies that included deep sea divers and astronauts, which note something interesting:
“…in divers exposed to intense hyperbaric oxygen in comparison with an age-matched control group. Both groups were exposed to extreme physical activity, as well. Among the divers following the oxidative stress, significant telomere elongation was observed”
Divers who regularly spend time in high oxygen and high pressure environments show genetic evidence of “telomere elongation”… read that as an important age related genetic marker reversing.
This and other studies lead researchers to test if this type of “hyperbaric oxygen therapy” could be applied to humans who are not genetically engineered to be special in some way and are already older and experiencing age related degeneration.
Amazingly, for the first time in history, there is now conclusive evidence that it is possible to reverse the effects of telomere shortening (a type/marker of age) in already senescent (well aged) people and due to the way the therapy works, it seemingly can be “turned off and on” as needed.
To be clear though, we DO NOT have a pill (or process) that will keep you from dying and likely there will never be “just one pill/process” to take for an extra long super fun time life, but this shows that a combination of “regenerative” therapies may someday grant humanity biological immortality.
Here’s the researcher (not a sponsor) who conducted the study explaining some of his findings:
Everything has a price and this is perhaps the best news to come out of 2020!
It’s been such a shitty year for so many people that the universe decided to throw us a bone and start us down the path to biological immortality… maybe (fingers crossed).
So where does Mr. Good Bot fit into all this?
Well, I’ve uploaded the initial build of the new/online version of Mr. Good Bot to GitHub recently.
Mr. Good Bot Online on GitHub: https://github.com/geekgirljoy/MrGoodBotOnline
And you can view it live on GitHub Pages here: https://geekgirljoy.github.io/MrGoodBotOnline/
However beyond being just a pretty face for the wallpaper, not a whole lot… though the DNA surrounding him is a reference to today’s topic and the additional chamber surrounding him is supposed to be symbolic of a hyperbaric chamber. 😛
Also.. I mean, the artwork is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” which has a connection with the idea of perfection, balance and the divine and is similar to some alchemical representations/symbols for the philosophers stone.
Here’s the raw “Vitruvian Good Bot” in case you want that instead/also.
Why not use a caduceus which has a much stronger connection with health and longevity instead?
Mostly because it’s harder to draw Mr. Good Bot on a pair of snakes wrapped around a pole . 😛
Anyway, the is so much more we could discuss about this as I’ve barely scratched the surface of these topics but this post is already way too long that nobody will read this far so I think I am just going to abruptly wrap it up here.
Blah, blah, blah… Patreon.