Sunday, January 14, 2007

Me and Immortality

There is an extract from my book in The Sunday Times today. This will at once make it apparent why you must buy it at once. The fine spelling is an additional bonus.


  1. Too modest. There is also a very fine photo of the author which will appeal to necrophiliacs everywhere.....

  2. They are always pestering me. Dark.

  3. 'Immortality'? Bryan, just perusing recent press there appears an epidemic of cancer in the U.K., and at best medical science treats the symptoms. Not that I don't find your writing worth reading, it's just the concept, given the implicit hubris, is troubling.

    Interestingly, 'unorthodox' methods are repudiated, i.e., the work of Peter Duesberg.

    In the event, I hope you come to the below conference, even if your usual well founded skepticism is on display:

  4. There is indeed a VERY large, colourful photo of his Bryan-ness, sporting a large grin.

    Excellent article, actually. Typically well-balanced and informative. But now that I've read the best bits, do I really need to buy the book as well? :-)

  5. I don't think I've ever seen someone look so smug in a graveyard. The extract has whetted my appetite - for muesli, salad and exemplary spelling.

  6. Bryan, after reading your excerpt, I hate to say that the subject itself is not of interest to me, despite the quality of writing. Just as computer graphic imaging has improved visual effects in film, but the writing is far inferior to the works of Homer or the bard, it seems humanity as well is lacking the ability to ask the question 'How do I live well?'

    Instead, there is the fear of death and this futile hope for 'immortality'. Yes, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, Bush and Blair, even Bin Ladin, here on earth forever.

    Whilst your editor may have recommended this topic, The Science Delusion , a follow up to your brilliant Understanding the Present - Science and the Soul of Modern Man would have appealed to me more. I wonder what your editors would think, and your readers.

    I don't know if you feel competition with other essayists, but I do enjoy, even if I don't agree all the time, the essays of Theodore Dalrymple.

    I can't think of living for centuries in the world, as it is now, with its architects of fear, as anything other than hell.

    As Dalrymple wrote:

    There has been an unholy alliance between those on the Left, who believe that man is endowed with rights but no duties, and libertarians on the Right, who believe that consumer choice is the answer to all social questions, an idea eagerly adopted by the Left in precisely those areas where it does not apply. Thus people have a right to bring forth children any way they like, and the children, of course, have the right not to be deprived of anything, at least anything material. How men and women associate and have children is merely a matter of consumer choice, of no more moral consequence than the choice between dark and milk chocolate, and the state must not discriminate among different forms of association and child rearing, even if such non-discrimination has the same effect as British and French neutrality during the Spanish Civil War.

    The consequences to the children and to society do not enter into the matter: for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility, and to ameliorate the emotional, educational, and spiritual effects by an army of social workers, psychologists, educators, counselors, and the like, who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.

    Ultimately, the moral cowardice of the intellectual and political elites is responsible for the continuing social disaster that has overtaken Britain, a disaster whose full social and economic consequences have yet to be seen. A sharp economic downturn would expose how far the policies of successive governments, all in the direction of libertinism, have atomized British society, so that all social solidarity within families and communities, so protective in times of hardship, has been destroyed. The elites cannot even acknowledge what has happened, however obvious it is, for to do so would be to admit their past responsibility for it, and that would make them feel bad. Better that millions should live in wretchedness and squalor than that they should feel bad about themselves—another aspect of the frivolity of evil. Moreover, if members of the elite acknowledged the social disaster brought about by their ideological libertinism, they might feel called upon to place restraints upon their own behavior, for you cannot long demand of others what you balk at doing yourself.

    There are pleasures, no doubt, to be had in crying in the wilderness, in being a man who thinks he has seen further and more keenly than others, but they grow fewer with time. The wilderness has lost its charms for me.

    I'm leaving—I hope for good.

  7. Brian, just started to read the article. A quick remark. If you want to see graphically why your contention looks on the mark, have a look at Prof Hans Rosling's website ( and click "Has the world become a better place?").

    Basically, average life expectancy around the world has shot up, but it has moved very little in the developed world. Those who are mathematically inclined here would recognise that this is S curve-behaviour and we are close to the top!

    Enjoy it while it lasts and have your glass of red wine a day!

  8. Yaiks, Bryan -mea culpa - I spelt your name wrongly in the earlier message! Sorry thousand times!!!

  9. I *love* the excerpt! But please don't die before I have met you. At any rate, I am just now back in the U.S. of A. and I shall proceed to buy your book via my credit card.

    BTW, do you address the fact that people who smoke do NOT get Alzheimer's? I keep waiting for the tobacco companies to light up the market with that fact. (True: It's a medical study my smokin' brother just told me about. He swears he wasn't making it up.)

  10. That's great news, Susan. I mustn't forget to let my wife know. She gives me such a hard time about my smoking. Every time I cough, she gives me this look (a "just think of the kids" look).