Sunday, May 07, 2006


I guess I'm what you might call an ex-extropian. Extropianism is a kind of futurist philosphy. Extropians are into like body modification, smart drugs, longevity, and maybe someday uploading their minds into computers in order to cheat death.
It may shock you to hear it, but as a young human male I was rather fond of the concept of immortality.
Over time my concept of death and identity has changed. I am no longer convinced that the entity in the computer would be me, and I'm no longer worried that the me I am now might cease to exist. I want to live because I have stuff to do, but if I can achieve even a fraction of my goals, then I can die happy.
I am a major packrat. I will keep broken things because I might someday have use for the parts, given enough space I would probably never get rid of anything. Being a packrat isn't all bad, it's as much a virtue as it is a vice. We wouldn't have much of history if there weren't people who kept useless things. I think fundamentally the same instinct drives packrats and environmentalism. Save it before it's too late!
A few months ago the thought crossed me that if you took detailed records of a persons experiences and personality, or at least their memories and whatever you could peice together of their life, and got a blood sample, you could clone them and run the clone through experiences that would produce a very similar personality and memory. Like The Boys from Brazil but with you or me, instead of Hitler. Naturally, for best results you would want to have every possible record and artifact of their life.
This is an interesting [thought] experiment for the extropians, because it offers essentially the same kind of immortality, but it is entirely doable with modern technology. Personally, I think I'd get a better form of immortality simply by having children, but this idea did resonate strongly with my packrat-nature.
I do not have an infinite storage facility, so I've been cleaning out all my old junk. Every time I would throw something away I'd think "Oh no, there goes a little peice of me that future generations will never be able to reconstruct, if I throw this away, this memory will be lost to eternity!"
Externally, my life is a mess, even beyond all the junk. Internally, I am pretty happy with who I am and what I am doing. I am under some pressures though- money, biological imperatives, some social aspirations. A big part of me wants to kick off, head for California and be some kind of itinerant prophet. But for a number of reasons (about 13,000) I'm stuck in normalcy. So I sit at home and clean.
Partly to help resolve those pressures by streamlining my life, and partly to become less materialistic, I've committed to getting rid of things that don't have genuine practical or sentimental value. I still get that twinge that a little peice of me is passing on, but I burst right through, and throw it away.
But my question now is, is my new effort of cleaning a symbolic form of suicide? I'm basicly saying to myself "Yes this will mean I die, and I don't care." Is this my way of dealing with my strong desire to escape?
I'm not actually suicidal at all, I realized long ago that under almost any circumstances, heading to California is infinitely better than death. (Maybe I should submit that to their department of tourism. (or immigration!)) But I can't go to California, so maybe I'm just trying to get rid of what I have here.
I know cleaning is a fairly normal way to deal with stress, but it's not normal for me, So I'm kind of puzzled.


At 11:27 PM, December 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over two hundred years old?
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