For those who might not know, cryonics refers to the practice of freezing a human corpse at extremely low temperatures immediately after clinical death using cryoprotectants to preserve the body and brain in the hope that advances in bioengineering and nanomedicine will resurrect the deceased into, hopefully, eternal physical life.
For the unfrozen life of me, I cannot think of a fouler reductionist, positivistic, and atheistic practice than cryonics. Cryonic proponents essentially want to be Lazaruses without the inconvenient metaphysical strings attached. Setting metaphysical, transcendent, and religious considerations aside and focusing purely on the material aspects of what cryonics purports to offer, I cannot conceive why anyone in their right mind would want to go into a deep freeze after death in the hope of physically returning to this world of ours. I admit, as a sci-fi/fantasy story, the premise is an intriguing one, but in real life?
What do these Popsicle Lazaruses hope to gain in the end? Immortality? And what would that amount to? More chances to eat at McDonalds and shop at Walmart (or their future equivalents)? Endless sexual encounters with hybrid space babes and future hunks? More opportunities to see Cirque du Soleil (this time with photon lasers and cyborgs)? A never-ending treadmill of sunrises and sunsets?
I have to admit, those who go in for cryonics are an optimistic bunch. They love life so much they simply refuse to let it go, even after death. The promise of a future material utopia beckons, one in which all pain, suffering, and death has been conquered leaving nothing but an endless chain of pleasure and joy. Even if this utopia comes to be, Popsicle People (assuming they can be reanimated at all) will wake up in a world where they will instantly be out of place, out of time, out of step, and out to lunch. It could take several lifetimes just to adjust to the new conditions that await them.
But what if the utopia they imagine does not materialize? What if the world resembles a dystopia – like something out of a Mad Max film? What if future humans incorporate cannibalism into their cultures and reanimate the Popsicle People for the sole purpose of consuming them as gourmet delicacies on special occasions like Trans-trans Day or The Night of the Thousand Orgasms? What if our technology regresses and the frozen corpses simply thaw and stink up the joint something awful once the power goes out forever? What if cryonically suspended corpses become nothing more than zombies once they are brought back to life?
I admit it; I don’t understand those who yearn for this kind of immortality. I have been on this planet for nearly half-a-century, and though my life has been a blessed one and I still have a great deal to live for, a part of me increasingly yearns for something more. Not more of the same, or more of the same with a different wrapping, or more of the same with all the negatives removed, but something else entirely. I can sympathize with the cryonic impulse to conquer death and achieve everlasting life, but I am averse to the kind of everlasting life cryonic proponents relish.
For me, cryonics is simply a matter of choosing the wrong after-death insurance policy.
Which makes me wonder – who is more pitiable? Cryonic enthusiasts who hope to conquer the void by extending their physical existence into perpetuity, or the hopeless nihilists who simply wish for annihilation without a trace of desire to continue at all, either physically or metaphysically?
I accept either if that is what a particular individual chooses, but both personally strike me as anathema.