On the opposite pole of pessimists “à outrance” there’s a thought current that has a positive and maybe positivist attitude towards future: I’m talking about supporters of cryonics therapy.
Cryonics (sometimes called hibernation , cryo-preservation , bio-stasis and cryonics suspension) consists of the immediately after death freezing of a human body trated with peculiar protective agents to better assure the preservation of cellular tissues. The aim of hibernation is the hope in a technology to come that will make the maybe restored to youth (i.e. nanotechnology) body return to life. Hibernation is a common science-fiction subject (let’s think about 2001: Space Odyssey ) but the challenge to death is a constant in the human history (it is for instance testified by the mummification of ancient Egyptians). The first scientific work about hibernation is the book The Prospect of Immortality , published in 1964 by Robert Ettinger, a professor of physics and the first cryonics experiment dates from 12 th January 1967 in Los Angeles a patient was treated with peculiar protective agents and then he was frozen soon after his death.
Costs fluctuate from $20.000 to $30.000 not really within everyone’s reach because of the indeterminateness of preservation time: fifty, one hundred or a thousand years for the rehabilitant technology to come? Go to the Cryonics — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page if you have more questions to ask.
There are a lot of organizations offering this therapy. The page www.cryonet.org/orgs.html gives us a brief list. The most famous among them is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona . All these are American organizations because in the US there’s the possibility for the doctor to immediately intervene on the body soon after death (while in Italy and in Europe there’s a 24 hours wait). Timeliness is the essential element of the cryonics treatment.
Hibernation discusses the death traditional concept and life “natural” limits. The preservation responds to a precise death philosophy contained in the theory of information (the following quote is taken from the web site Estropico.com death is the irreversible loss of brain information mainly our memory and personality).
Ralpg Merkle, professor at the Georgia Tech College of Computing and member of the Alcor Foundation says in line with the information theory “A person is dead if his memories, personality, hopes, dreams etc. have been destroyed.”
What’s lacking in these discussions and theorizations is in my opinion a communitarian historical dimension. Death can’t be considered as a mere loss of information. The richness of a whole life experiences doesn’t die with the individual body, but it follows various social communication channels. Hopes, dreams and experiences of the individual even before he’s dead, become part of a familiar communicative process (let’s remember that communication always needs a reciprocal construction process, not transmission only) to become then collective.
From a collective memory point of view life itself can be considered as a process of reactivation of the existence of a community from time out of time codified in our society through funeral respect rituals that is not assimilating (at least not as a substitution) to the museum fossilized individual hibernation.