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Accepted Paper:

Death as a mere interruption of life: the techno-scientific road to eternity.  
Eric Orlowski (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

My Swedish techno-utopian interlocutors often invoke ‘the ancients’ to legitimise their wish for human transcendence, but with added technoscientific jargon. This paper looks beyond this universalising language to consider how their future narratives are constructed and maintained; by and for whom?

Paper long abstract:

“Have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh?” my informants often ask me. These Sweden-based techno-utopists tend to rhetorically invoke ‘the ancients’ with the hopes to legitimise their wish for human transcendence through technoscience, though they prefer euphemism to such fantastical claims. In their preferred nomenclature “eternal life” becomes “(radical) life extension”, or “resurrection” becomes “cryonic suspension.” They aim to hide fantastical claims behind a veneer of technoscientific objectivity and clarity: to simultaneously legitimate emergent science and paint their quest as a universal human drive. We, humanity, have always wanted this – as evidenced by Gilgamesh – and it is finally within our grasp; or so the narrative goes. Speaking to this panel’s interest in narratives, I wish to engage the narratives my interlocutors’ attempt to construct for a post-death world. Such a focus forces one to look beyond the universalising language, which is especially critical as these are narratives constructed and maintained by comparatively small group of individuals. How are these narratives for a techno-enlightened future constructed and communicated; and by and for whom? When looked at in this light, it becomes clear that my interlocutors lack a clear narrative for what the future will be like. Whether cryonically suspended, or through other means, life will merely go on, and death will be a mere interruption of life. Such unclear narratives recast their future hopes in a fundamentally different light: one in which they have failed to learn the lessons that Gilgamesh had to learn: eternal life can be empty.

Panel Narr02
Uncertain death: narrative and physical death and the spaces in between
  Session 2 Saturday 10 June, 2023, -