Raging Against Aging

One of the needed shifts in our culture is to move away from the dominant themes of apologism and acceptance of aging - this is a necessary precursor for widespread support of longevity science, to the level needed to raise up rejuvenation biotechnology research to match cancer research or regenerative medicine in funding and enthusiasm. So more of this sort of thing is welcome: "In 1981, five days before cancer killed him, the life-loving writer William Saroyan told the Associated Press: 'Everybody has to die, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?' There it is: 'Now what?' That is the great question growing all the greater for being asked by the biggest, most self-conscious and possibly most self-deluded generation in American history, the baby boomers. The youngest of them are middle-aged now, taking a hard-headed look at old age and asking: Now what? Some are also taking a soft-headed look, as if they were already demented beyond grappling with reality. Some of them like to think of old age as 'elderhood,' which is thinking of old age as just another stage of life, like childhood or adulthood. But then what? Surely not deathhood. Or afterhood, or oblivionhood. No, a lot of people are making a lot of money promising immortality. But I digress. Then again, digression is the essence of William Ian Miller's book about old age. It answers the question of 'Now what?' with its title: 'Losing It.' ... The point, if I may dare to sum up: Old age is an annoying, ridiculous and pathetic decline toward the state of a turnip softening in a compost heap, if death is not kind enough to intervene first. But why write a book about it? ... Mr. Miller wants to express his contempt for the positivity crowd that echoes 'grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,' in the words of Robert Browning, one of the softer turnips of 19th-century English poetry."

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204226204576601162391437564.html

Comments

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.