Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Juxtaposing some thoughts...

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I want to pull a couple of things together, here, so I can look at them side by side.

Start with Walter John Williams' observation on Escaping History:
“If we ever succeed in populating other worlds,” I said, “the first thing they’ll do is lose interest in Earth history, because none of it will be relevant.”
Now set that next to John Rogers' observation that Immortality is So, So Creepy:
Even pseudo-immortality, the thousand-year lifespan, has a nasty ring to it.
Not just because of what it might mean for the individual who's rocking the forever-life, either -- and there have been plenty of discussions of that idea, both in the vampire myth and in science fiction.
No, what's even creepier to me is what a society of such people would be.
...People are people, and the vast majority of we humans formed our core values in our adolescences, locked our social and political opinions in our early 20's. Grudges dig deep. To call out a specific example: no matter who you voted for, wasn't it a little goddam tiring in the 2000 election to still be refighting the 32-year old Vietnam War records of the two candidates for the US presidency?

Now imagine it was the Civil War.
These observations don't strike me as contradictory or incompatible. But place them side by side and they're... interesting. A society of immortals, or even near-immortals, could easily end up locked in a sort of social and cultural stasis. If they were still having children - population pressure concerns aside - you could easily hit a point where the only way for the younger generations to effect social change would be to rise up and murder their elders...

Or go elsewhere. Another planet, say. Someplace so completely distant, and (perhaps more importantly) so completely different, that new insights and new ways of doing things might become possible again.

If they could manage it. If they could gather the resources and develop the technology. If the eldest among them didn't forbid it, or couldn't prevent it. (And here we raise the specter of bloody rebellion again...) If they could find a suitable planet, or planets, and if they had a compatible ecosphere or some means of terraforming.

Nobody talks about the history of Earth anymore. Hell, nobody talks about their own history. People come to the outer planets to forget...

I think I'd like to read that story. Which means I think I'd like to write that story - in my copious free time, of course. I even have a title for it. I'd call it Gerontyranny.

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