Saturday, 19 November 2016
An un-named fourteen-year old girl who died from cancer has posthumously won a court battle to allow her body to be cryogenically frozen in the hope that one day we will have the ability to revive and cure her. It was popularly supposed that Walt Disney’s body had been frozen after he died in 1966, but if this was true I expect his prior cremation may mitigate against him doing a Lazarus any century soon.
The first person widely known to actually be deposited in a cryogenic vault was James Bedford, in 1967. Examination of his body 24 years later suggests that he is, at the very least, still poorly. But seriously, who would want to commit themselves to the permafrost in the hope that one day you may be brought precariously back to a form of life? Would you have to live forever on life support; would your organs function independently, or at all? Would you retain memory and if so, how would you feel knowing that everybody who was part of your life had been dead for possibly hundreds of years?
And what sort of a society would you wake up to? In Woody Allen’s 1973 film, Sleeper, the re-animated protagonist discovers that all his beliefs have been proved false. What if you were to wake up to discover that there really is a vengeful god whose name is allah... or that there has been final proof that no god exists? Will things be so much better, with high-technology finally delivering all its longed for promises? Or will the Earth have succumbed to all the portents of the tech-hating Green evangelists, reducing humans to once more grubbing about in the dirt?
You may wake to find that, in a post-politics, post-order world your newly galvanised status has value... as a curiosity in a freak show. Or what if you are the first to be brought back and you find you are the sacred icon of a morbid cult? Imagine if you woke up and found you were the last white person on the planet? Or – and this would be the kicker for me – what if the world you wake up to in 2217 is... exactly the same as the one you went to sleep in; with a preserved-forever President Trump and the UK still waiting to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty... and Nicola Sturgeon still strutting her grumpy stuff in all the papers every day?
Wakey wakey rise and shine!
It all sounds far too much of a risk to me. The only possible reason I might want a glimpse into the future would be to see how wrong all the current predictions are, or possibly to look up the long-odds-come-good results on which to place bets in the here and now. In the meantime I think I will restrict my forays into the frozen world to watching the telly and finding out why Mums go to Iceland.