By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
Exercise three says,
Accept the longevity hypothesis. Imagine you are going to live at least 300 years. How much of that time do you want to spend loafing? How many different jobs would you like to work at? How many sports, arts or sciences you never had time for, would you then find the time to enjoy? (pg. 255)
Well, I just turned sixty. Thinking of Tim McGraw’s song “My Next Thirty Years”, I think about “My Next 240 Years”. I would like to spend a fair amount of time loafing which will also involve watching the world change. I have grown tired of most of my jobs, although I still love teaching my college classes, especially when I returned to the classroom after a over a year on Zoom due to the pandemic. I suspect I will have to work for a good part of the next 240 years. I do enjoy working a lot of the time. Perhaps I will work 42 jobs; perhaps retirement, writing and teaching will take up a good share of my time.
I suspect I will continue to practice tai chi, and I suspect I will explore other martial arts and complimentary practices like kettlebells in the future. My wife suggested I buy a basketball for when the grandkids come over, so their taste in sports will likely affect my taste and practice of sports. I suspect I will keep writing and trying to improve my writing. Ezra Pound emphasized how language study can help one’s writing, and I suspect I will keep learning languages for the rest of my life. I find it interesting how some skills erode over time if one doesn’t nurture them. I look forward to experimenting with various learning processes over the coming centuries. These days I study Arabic a little bit every day. Perhaps I will eventually become fluent and will nurture my Arabic skills as well as my skills in other languages, and I will see how that affects my writing.
I also suspect I will play music, and perhaps I will practice more regularly at various times in the coming years. Perhaps I will go back to ballet, or I might work on drawing. Who knows? It would not surprise me if I die before I turn ninety. If I keep on living, various passions and curiosities will likely emerge. Of course, I may spend my time foraging for water and food in a climate change nightmare with little time for poetry or architecture.
I haven’t taken a science class since 1980. I started school as a math major, but I have neglected math and sciences over the past forty years. Bob Wilson got me to read about quantum mechanics, but I have not done much of that this century. I remember reading that in the fifties Isaac Asimov found himself on a panel with Philip Jose Farmer. Someone asked how they stayed current with science. Asimov thought to himself, well, I have a Ph.D. in chemistry, this question doesn’t apply to me, but he liked Farmer’s response. Phil said that he read Scientific American every month. Asimov realized that a lot had happened in science since he got his degree, and more and more would continue to happen, so he decided to follow Phil’s example and he subscribed to Scientific American. Perhaps in a few years I will subscribe to Scientific American (if they even continue to publish a paper magazine). Of course, passions have tended to drive my education. Sometime in the coming centuries I may develop a passion for some science that will get me to study a lot.
Wilson was also a SA subscriber. I enjoy it. A bit overly political these days but then again, that seems to be the trend.
PR chapter 6, exercize 5: "buy a copy of Scientific American and read any article in it. Ask the following questions: Why do they sound so sure? Does the data support dogmatism at this point, or is dogma a primate habit (defending headspace)? Will these theories still be believed in 2011? In 2593?"
Perhaps they won't be overly political anymore in 2593?
Once again you outdid yourself with this post, Eric. And a happy birthday to you! I do not know if you'll make it to 300, but I wish you at least 60 more happy years of learning and loafing.
A record producer gave Keith Richards a turtle recently and Keith asked how long would it live? 300 years was the answer. "See that's the problem," said Richards, "you get attached to your pets and then they go and die on you."
If the longevity hypothesis has a breakthrough and proves right and I do stay alive in this current meat carcass for 300 years or more, what I do will likely depend on my circumstances. The main circumstance being financial. I would like to do a lot of writing. I currently have 3 specific books to write in mind, 2 of them I've started. I would also like to do a lot of reading and rereading and rerereading and even some rererereading, etc.
I enjoy traveling and would do more of that, hopefully extra-planetary at some point. I would continue recording interesting ambience on my travels and put together sound collage and avant garde music journeys. I would go to art and anthropology museums all over the world. I would continue as a musical expeditionary, to use Bob Dylan's phrase, and seek out all kinds of noncommercial music to educate my soul.
I consider it a high probability that consciousness can survive outside the body and brain ala Antonin Artaud's "body without organs" which Gilles Deleuze, with Feliz Guattari appropriated for philosophy and psychoanalysis. 300 years gives a lot more time for working to make that a reality.
Living for 300 years or more, I would undoubtedly fall in love over and over and over again, in parallel fashion, not series, speaking electrically. With humans, the type of love would largely include philos (brotherly/sisterly) and agape, along with eros.
Outside of this exercize, I don't know if DNA has any need or interest for humans to live in the same body much longer than they do now. I enjoy being alive in this body even as it ages, almost 63 now. I intend to reside here until at least age 90, I think I could reach 100. Other times when I push myself, I feel I could die at any moment which I would prefer over an extended illness.
Apparently, from my Science Fiction sources in the Higher Dimensions, the first thing most people do right after a nonviolent death is turn around, look at their former body and exclaim, "what the hell was I doing in that thing?"
Thank you, Spookah, and thanks to everyone for their comments over the past 22 months. Strange to think we have almost finished the book. Of course, one could spend decades (centuries?) more on the exercises.
These words below from William S. Burroughs seem relevant to the exercize. They come from his book The Western Lands. I recently listened to a recording I made of him reading it for the album Seven Souls by Material (Bill Laswell):
"Danger is a biological necessity like sleep and dreams.
If you face death, for that time, the period of direct confrontation, you are immortal.
For the western middle classes danger is a rarity. It erupts only with a sudden random shock.
And yet we are all in danger at all times since our death exists. Mektoub it is written, waiting to present the aspect of surprised recognition.
Is there a technique for confronting death without immediate physical danger? Can one reach the Western Lands without physical death?
These are the questions of Hassan I Sabbah esq.
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