Booty, Sex, Black and White

Meghan-Trainor

I don’t tend to keep up on popular music much, but there are two videos that have popped up in my newsfeed recently that are similar in many ways and different in one key way. Both of these songs are sung by women, include a variety of female backup dancers, celebrate female sexuality and bodies, and focus heavily on butts (particularly big butts). But there has been remarkably different response to the two videos: one of them has been censored in a number of places, derided as disgusting and objectifying, and has provoked a great deal of controversy among some who believe that it’s inappropriate. The other (at least in all of the responses that I’ve seen) has been lauded as a feminist anthem that celebrates a variety of body types.

I’m going to leave the two videos here, and we’ll play “see if you can spot the difference”.

Now I can see some of you saying that one is more explicit than the other, that women have more clothes on in one, blah blah blah. Let’s be honest. Race is at play here. A white woman who proudly proclaims that she likes to shake her booty is treated significantly differently than a black woman who does. No woman is exactly encouraged to embrace her sexuality, but the coy, modest version of white sexuality that is on display in All About That Bass is clearly far more palatable to our society than a black woman who is oozing joy in her own body. Don’t get me wrong: I love both of these videos. I love the self-love that shows in both of them. I love the celebration of women and women’s bodies. But it’s no surprise that I like All About That Bass better. I’ve been trained to do so.

Time to start questioning.

A Bit of Poetry

Hello friends. As part of transitioning to Ireland, I’m trying to get back in my normal blogging habits. Unfortunately I’m completely emotionally drained which means that my ability to a. think of anything I care about and b. form coherent thoughts is not at its height. So for today I will leave you with a few poems that I’ve been loving recently. I picked up a book of Rumi’s work a few days ago and I can’t get over it, so here are some of my favorites.

“The Fragile Vial”

I need a mouth as wide as the sky
to say the nature of a True Person, language
as large as longing.

The fragile vial inside me often breaks.
No wonder I go mad and disappear for three days
every month with the moon.

For anyone in love with you,
it’s always these invisible days.

I’ve lost the thread of the story I was telling.
My elephant roams his dreams of Hindustan again.
Narrative, poetics, destroyed, my body,
a dissolving, a return.

Friend, I’ve shrunk to a hair trying to say your story.
Would you tell mine?
I’ve made up so many love stories.
Now I feel fictional.
Tell me!
The truth is, you are speaking, not me.
I am Sinai, and you are Moses walking there.
This poetry is an echo of what you say.
A piece of land can’t speak, or know anything!
Or of it can, only within limits.

The body is a device to calculate
the astronomy of the spirit.
Look through that astrolabe
and become oceanic.

Why this distracted talk?
It’s not my fault I rave.
You did this.
Do you approve of my love-madness?

Say yes.
What language will you say it in, Arabic or Persian,
or what? Once again, I must be tied up.
Bring the curly ropes of your hair.

Now I remember the story.
A True Man stares at his old shoes
and sheepskin jacket. Every day he goes up
to his attic to look at his work-shoes and worn-out coat.
This is his wisdom, to remember the original clay
and not get drunk with ego and arrogance.

To visit those shoes and jacket
is praise.

The Absolute works with nothing.
The workshop, the materials
are what does not exist.

Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.
Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing,
where something might be planted,
a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.

 

 

“I Have Five Things To Say”

The wakened lover speaks directly to the beloved,
“You are the sky my spirit circles in,
the love inside of love, the resurrection-place.

Let this window be your ear.
I have lost consciousness many times
with longing for your listening silence,
and your life-quickening smile.

You give attention to the smallest matters,
my suspicious doubts, and to the greatest.

You know my coins are counterfeit,
but you accept them anyway,
my impudence and my pretending!

I have five things to say,
five fingers to give
into your grace.

First, when I was apart from you,

this world did not exist,

nor any other.

Second, whatever I was looking for

was always you.

Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?

Fourth, my cornfield is burning!

Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia,

and this is for someone else.

Is there a difference?

Are these words or tears?
Is weeping speech?
What shall I do, my love?”

So he speaks, and everyone around
begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,
moaning in the spreading union
of lover and beloved.

This is the true religion. All others
are thrown-away bandages beside it.

This is the sema of slavery and mastery
dancing together. This is not-being.

Neither words, nor any natural fact
can express this.

I know these dancers.
Day and night I sing their songs
in this phenomenal cage.

My soul, don’t try to answer now!
Find a friend, and hide.

But what can stay hidden?
Love’s secret is always lifting its head
out from under the covers,
“Here I am!”

Why I Ship Spuffy

spuffy

One of the oldest debates in fandom is Spuffy vs. Bangel. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer immediately and then report back. Done? Ok, good. Now I realize that this debate hasn’t really been active in quite a while, but it’s one that’s close to my heart and one of my friends recently told me that he doesn’t think Buffy and Spike should be together. I immediately told him we could never speak again until he changes his mind, and in the spirit of that I will now definitively tell you why Spuffy is the best ship ever (ok maybe not, but I do think there are some truly beautiful things about their relationship).

Now I am the first to admit that in season 6 their relationship is abusive. Wholly abusive. Spike does not in any way understand consent (he badgers her until she has sex with him many times, will physically restrain her when she tries to leave his presence, and regularly ignores her requests). Buffy on the other hand just uses him and then proceeds to insult him, berate him, yell at him, beat him up, and generally act emotionally abusive (“you’re not a man. You’re a thing”).

But Spike is right when he points out that they understand each other: both of them are broken people who don’t understand how they fit into the universe and are attempting to fulfill roles that will never be quite right for them. Buffy will never be the perfect, motivated, “good” Slayer that she was before she died. Spike will never be the big bad that he was before he got his chip. Both of them are struggling with feeling pointless, and both of them see themselves in the other. Spike has always had a talent for truth telling (see season 3, Love Walk, when he tells Buffy and Angel that they will never be friends) and he is the only of Buffy’s lovers that doesn’t idealize her in some way: he sees her dark bits and he loves those bits. He loves her complexity and her struggle because it makes her human, it makes her relatable, it makes her stronger: he sees that she has to choose over and over to continue in a life that isolates her, and she does it because it is right. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat that fact for her, he simply reminds her that it makes her an amazing human being.

Beyond their recognition of similarities in each other, one of the more amazing things about Spike is that he actually improves himself because of Buffy: he goes to get his soul. Some people might interpret this as the ultimate nice guy move (I got my soul back for you, now date me!), but if you look at his face after he realizes that he nearly raped her, he is fully disgusted by his own actions and wants to change. His motivation is more that he doesn’t want to hurt her anymore. There are few examples of relationships in media in which one party recognizes that they have behaved badly towards the other and then chooses of their own volition to make serious changes to their self and their life in order to be better and do better. I am amazed at the strength of Spike’s love that it allows him to do this. Not even Willow could. When Tara left her over magic using, Willow kept on going. But Spike, the moment he realizes how seriously his lack of soul is fucking up his relationship with Buffy, makes a change.

Once season 7 rolls around, things are very different between Buffy and Spike, not only because Spike has a soul, but because both of them have healed somewhat as people. Any relationship between two individuals who are deeply depressed will be fucked up. So while season 6 is part of their history, I don’t see that relationship as the best representation of what they can be together, because it isn’t the best representation of either of them as people. So let’s look a bit at season 7, shall we?

Once it hits this season, Spike has fully recognized Buffy as an autonomous person. Angel, Parker, Riley (especially Riley), all try to manipulate Buffy’s actions in some fashion. They want her to love them or not to love them or to be less strong or fulfill her destiny. Spike does none of these things. He backs her up, he challenges her when he disagrees with her, but he truly recognizes that she can exist fully without him and that he does not need to get her to behave in any particular way. Buffy in return begins to see Spike as someone deserving of compassion, someone with a complex history whose heart has been broken over and over and who simply needs love (see: “Can we rest now?”). While she doesn’t know if she can love him, she is content to be with him in a wholly present fashion that is incredibly healing for Spike. From the looks of it, no one else in his life has ever done that (certainly not Cecily and Dru was never really what you’d call present).

There is a great deal of tenderness in their relationship in season 7. Each of them has moments of complete vulnerability during which they show the parts of them that hurt the most, and in return the other listens, holds them, and simply reminds them that they are worthy. Each of them has come through a great deal of loneliness (Spike in his human life and when Dru left him) and confusion, and this gives them far more understanding of what the other is going through. What’s beautiful about this is that it shows how deeply two broken people can love. While season 7 doesn’t contain any crazy sex or passionate kisses, I would argue that it has the most passionately loving scenes in the whole series. In the last episodes when Buffy stays in an abandoned house with Spike, he gives her a bit of a pep talk. It is honest, loving, intense, and emotional. It is perhaps the most passionate thing I’ve ever seen in my life. That mix of gentleness and deep passion for the other person is what makes their relationship work so well. They hold each other so carefully because they know what it is to be hurt.

Spuffy has always given me hope that even if we have a past of pain and cruelty and confusion, we can learn from those things the compassion to love imperfect people. It doesn’t pretend that either party is good. It recognizes each of their faults and allows them to exist as they are while still loving each other, and even to love each other because of their faults. I don’t like aphorisms about learning from your pain or how bad things make us stronger or better in some fashion. But if there is one relationship in all of media that would convince me that having hurt in your past can expand your ability to have compassion, to care deeply for someone, and to make yourself vulnerable, it would be this one. The quiet moments in which Buffy simply asks Spike to hold her show so clearly how two people can take care of each other in the worst of situations.

If you’re not convinced of the beauty of Spuffy at this point, you have no heart. And so I will leave you with the most touching speech I know of, from Spike to Buffy.

“You listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine, and done things I prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood, which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain. So I make a lot of mistakes, a lot of wrong bloody calls.  And 100+ years, and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of: you.  Hey, look at me. I’m not asking you for anything. When I say, “I love you,” it’s not because I want you or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me.  I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re a hell of a woman. You’re the one, Buffy.”

The Logic of Fear

cry

I’ve been a bit quiet lately and a big part of that is that I’ve been in the midst of a move to Cork, Ireland. I’m finally starting to get settled (I’ve been here for 3 days) and process this fairly large decision. Part of this has been a great deal of panic, anxiety, and worry. I’m feeling the beginning of a serious depressive episode creeping into my mind, and I’ve been fairly vocal to friends and family about my worry that this was not a good decision for me. Many of them have responded (quite logically) with sentiments like “you’re more than your emotions”, “you don’t have to let feelings dictate how you behave”, and “feelings will pass”.

These things are all true, but they haven’t helped me to feel any less afraid and they don’t get to the heart of why I’m afraid, or even address what I believe is a very real and logical worry that is at the heart of the anxiety and distress. For most people there is a limit to the harm that emotions can do. You might feel something unpleasant for a while, and then it will pass. However I have very real evidence that my emotions are not something to be taken lightly, and that “just emotions” can make things a living hell and seriously endanger my life.

There is something very logical about being wary of anything that might disturb your emotions when you have a history of severe depression. I have had active depression for nearly five years now, and only just started to move into recovery in the last six months or so. I once spent a full semester in the midst of complete suicidal ideation, isolation, lack of pleasure in anything, and utterly overwhelming anxiety. I remember almost no moments of even contentment or neutrality: it was all overwhelming emotional pain. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I have friends who were there and know just how nasty it was. It was bad.

So while it might seem irrational to let anxiety or worry dissuade me from an amazing opportunity like this, I am risking a great deal more than most people would who try something new. I can feel myself falling into depression, and I know just how bad it can get and how long it can last. Beyond the emotional toll, there are also very physical results to my depression: while I have more skills now than I did in the past, I don’t trust myself to weather a full depressive episode without hurting myself or restricting my food and putting my body in serious danger.

When I see the potential for my mental health to fall apart, I see the risk of repeating the worst depression I’ve experienced. It is quite literally what would be termed unconscionable torture were it to be enacted on another human being. There is a great deal of logic in being deeply afraid of this possibility and in wanting to hold on to the things that have kept it at bay.

To get very dark for a minute (and let’s be honest, a lot of the things in my past have been fairly dark so I guess this is just being straightforward), when you have sat with a razor blade poised against your wrist for hours at a time, replaying the scenario of what it would be like and how hard you’d have to press over and over, and only dropping the blade when you think of the one friend who would inevitably find your body, the stakes of having some level of comfort and safety, having people you know and love around you, become much higher. This is not even an extreme possibility: this is a regular part of my history.

For some people with mental illness who have reached a stage of recovery, individual coping skills and tactics are a lifesaver. For those people, being on their own in a new place might not be as big of a deal because they know what is helpful for them and how to manage their emotions effectively. For me, the best buffer I have against the nasties is having a good support crew: friends who keep me grounded, people who challenge my ridiculous pessimism, people who know me well enough to call me out when I’m being cruel to myself, and people who I am comfortable enough to simply be around without feeling pressure or anxiety, people I can feel safe with. I do have other skills that are helpful, but so far this is the single most helpful thing that I have found: it gives me a reason to bother with caring for myself.

Removing myself from this support system gives my depression and anxiety an opening. The fear and worry and desperate desire to go home that I feel right now is not simply loneliness or the discomfort of a new place. It is at least partly the recognition that I could be in serious danger and the strong desire to go back to where I am safer. There is nothing illogical about that. That is not just an emotion, and it is something that should be taken into account when I act because it is truly important information. While I have not let this information dictate my behavior (I am still here and accomplishing all the tasks I’ll need to be able to stay), it isn’t something that I’m simply going to try to put aside. It’s something I want to remain acutely aware of, because ignoring it is putting myself in danger. Taking your emotions seriously as a force to be reckoned with is fully logical and truly important when you have a history of mental illness, and it’s a privilege to be able to set emotions aside or take actions without making certain you take them into account.

Change, Expectations, and Spoons

spoons

One of the most challenging things in life is dealing with the expectations of people around you. Most people feel this the strongest when they feel pressure to get something done or accomplish in some way. Sometimes it’s the expectation to be a certain person or follow a specific path. Lately, I have been feeling this in the pressure to have certain emotions.

I’m about to embark on a great adventure, and when people hear that I’m moving to a new country, they immediately remark on how exciting it is. They ask about what I’m most excited for, about what I’m going to be doing. They engage deeply with the idea that I should be feeling incredibly positive about the experience. Rarely do they even contemplate that I might be somewhere else emotionally: their expectations are so strong that they can’t even imagine something else.

In reality, I am not feeling good at all about this step. Intellectually I think I’ve come to the realization that it’s a good choice for me, but emotionally it feels horribly wrong. I am afraid and sad and lonely and worried. So when I mention to someone that I’m taking this trip and they immediately pour out their own excitement, I am left trying to find a way to validate their expectations as utterly rational and legitimate, while still making space for my own feelings.

I’m allowed to not want to go. I’m allowed to wish I had made a different decision. I’m allowed to hate myself for this and hurt and cry and complain. And it’s still allowed to be a good decision that I go through with. The hard part is finding a way to communicate all this to someone when their expectation is so vastly different from the reality, to find a way to politely and subtly let them know that they are deeply mistaken and that their expectations are putting a great deal of pressure on me to perform an emotion that I’m not having (which basically sucks balls).

Thus far I haven’t found a way to do this that doesn’t involve performing excitement on some level. It’s an immediate expectation: show me this emotion! Feel this with me! Be in this space together! Unlike most unwarranted expectations in which you can try to set some boundaries before you’re expected to do something, the expectation of emotions is at such a fundamental level that it’s extremely difficult to temper or question those expectations. Oftentimes someone doesn’t even realize that their expectation is exerting pressure on another person to behave or feel a certain way, so it’s nearly impossible to tell them “your reaction of excitement implies that I should be excited too”. They get to feel excited for you even if you don’t feel excited yourself. How do you accept that kind emotion and not invalidate someone else while giving yourself space not to feel it too?

I see a lot of parallels here with accepting compliments, in that I have to accept something as someone else’s truth, something that they can honestly believe or feel and that my own perceptions of a situation don’t mean they’re lying to me or that they’re horrifically wrong. Just because not everyone agrees with me that ice cream is the greatest thing ever doesn’t mean it’s some kind of long con that they’re using to fuck me over emotionally. Similarly, just because someone is excited where I am not doesn’t mean that they’re trying to convince me that I have to be excited and love this trip regardless of my actual feelings.

A big part of this has to do with assumptions about change and difference, and the values that lie therein.

One of the things that we seem to place an unquestioned value on is newness: things that are different, variety, change. When someone makes a big change, we’ll accept “I needed a change of scenery” or “It’s something new” as reason enough for the change. Oftentimes we don’t even ask why this thing in particular would be good: a new computer is always better than an older one. Partially it’s novelty. We don’t know the downsides yet.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me how exciting it is that I’m going somewhere new, that I’m making a huge change. For the most part, they don’t ask more than where I’m going and what I’m studying. They probably have never been to Ireland and know nothing about it. But it’s supposed to be a good thing because it’s different, it’s a leap of faith, it’s the challenge and the excitement of seeing things you’ve never seen before and meeting people unlike the people you already knew.

This kind of positive is seen in prioritizing “diversity”. The idea is that having a variety of different perspectives, minds, and types of people will give us a wider pool to draw from that enriches everyone’s experience and creates better ideas and solutions in the end. There is supposed to be something good about having differences around. We criticize those who live in echo chambers, surrounded only by like minded individuals.

There is definitely a relationship between change and diversity. Changes bring us to new experiences and people, they expose us to things that we otherwise wouldn’t see. And so change is good. Change is growth. Change is moving forward.

But is change for change’s sake worth it? Are things that are new inherently better than the old? Obviously not. Sometimes things exist the way they do for a reason: we’ve figured out the best way to make them happen, or we’ve found a place that is comfortable and happy, or the way things are already helps us grow by challenging and supporting us in equal measure.

Of course the problem is that we can’t know which is better until we’ve tried the change. We just have to give up what was working (if it was working) and hope. And many times we forget about the benefits of the familiar, the comfortable: we forget that humans are creatures of habit and that we need routines to function, we forget about our own idiosyncracies and the ways that people around us have learned to adjust to those, we forget what it means to have a history with people so that we don’t have to explain everything and we can just rely on them quietly in the ways we always have.

There is something to be said for the evil you know. You have the skills to manage it, you have the confidence to know that you have those skills, and you don’t have to use extra brain power discovering. There are so many downsides to newness, and perhaps they are just laziness or fear, but for some people those are legitimate concerns: how much of my mind do I have to use remaining functional here? For those without enough spoons, consistency and patterns can literally be a lifesaver. Rarely do we hear people sing the praises of consistency though. So for today, I am going to remind everyone to be thankful of the things that they do each day that they don’t have to think about or worry about or question, the things that are simply part of the scenery. Those things have a subtle beauty.

You Are Beautiful Because/You Are Beautiful Despite

beautiful

There are things on my body that are not typically seen as beautiful. Scars, stretch marks, places that reveal all that has gone wrong in my life. I am self-conscious. I am conflicted. I don’t want to forget, but some days I wish my skin were the smooth expanse that it was two, three years ago before I had these memories of self-hatred emblazoned on me.

I have been told that I am beautiful by people who see these scars. A friend drunkenly told me “I think you’re beautiful and your scars are beautiful too!” I was confused but felt a swelling of love that she accepted me with all the nasty bits and pieces that are my life. Skin tells stories and stories make us beautiful. I am beautiful because. Because of scars and the skin that has expanded and stretched and folded to fit my ever changing hips and the way that my hands shake when I forget to eat a meal. I am the stories I tell about myself and these are stories that are slowly wending their way towards triumph. They are memories of change.

Last night, someone tenderly held me as I whispered “I wish they were gone”. He squeezed me and reminded me “You’re beautiful anyway. You can wish something were different while also being wonderful the way you are.” Holding the dialectic is hard. When I’m yearning for wholeness, I forget that there is a body beneath the scars, a self that may in fact be loved. There is an ugliness and a hatred to scars left by your own hand, but no matter how much I want to change the past, I continue. I survive. I am beautiful despite. Despite the tears and the snot and the puke, despite the desperation and the hurt and the vulnerability, despite the ways that I have told myself over and over in the ugliest fashion possible “You are wrong. You are not deserving. You are bad.” But under all of these grotesqueries there is something beautiful, someone who may just be strong enough to move on and forget what it felt like to hold the razor to the skin. I want my body back from the memories.

Am I beautiful because or beautiful despite? Is beauty the depth of character that comes from knowing the worst thoughts that could exist in your mind and learning to smile regardless? Is beauty the push/pull of ruination and strength? Or is beauty tainted by the presence of darkness, hatred, violence? Who can look at a body marred by its own hand? Unnatural.

There is no peace with scars like these, no coming to terms with it by moving on or moving forward. There is no overcoming what happened because I am what happened and the mind that watched me bleed with a smile is always lurking just under the surface of things. I am the reason that bad things happened to me.

Of course the answer can always be both. Despite the moments of my life when I was full of hatred and disgust, I am beautiful. And because I was strong enough to live through those moments and at least try to turn my mind towards better things, I am beautiful. Beauty is a hard enough concept without physical markers of pain and difficulty. It’s hard to untrain our brains from the narratives and scripts of whiteness and thinness and youth and teach them narratives of diversity and ingenuity and strength and creativity. I don’t know if I can see any of those things on my body, especially when I look at the place I wrote the word “fat” in blood on my leg. I am the cruel individual who did that. But I am also the vulnerable and fragile person who was tortured with a razor blade and empty stomach. It is hard to feel whole with such disparate pieces.

Maybe someday I will write beauty on myself instead, over and around and through the scars so that I know I can be beautiful despite them and be beautiful because of them. Maybe someday I will be cohesive.

So You Want to Live Forever

arwen

In one of my recent posts I touched on the concept of living forever, and why we may or may not want to do so. Because one of my besties is quite enamored of the idea of living forever, I’ve been thinking a lot more about it and whether or not I would want to. But there’s an element to this that I hadn’t fully explored that hit me yesterday in a giant pile of “how did I not think about this?”

Is it ethical to live forever? If it is, how could we ethically enact a system that would allow people to live forever without ingraining oppressions even further? What are the possible repercussions of living forever, not just on an individual’s life, but on society at large? Even if we want to live forever, there may be good reasons to hesitate pursuing the technology that would allow us to do so.

On a larger scale, I suppose we have to question whether giving humanity a better chance of survival as a species is a good thing. There’s no particular reason to think that humans are all bad or all good. We haven’t totally destroyed the world yet (which is cool) and we’ve invented some amazing things and we are conscious and have culture and thoughts and emotions all of which are incredibly interesting and in many ways beautiful (is beauty a value we want to subscribe to?), but at the same time we’ve drastically reduced the amount of variety in the world (variety does seem to be a value to me), we’re short sighted, we may fuck up the planet enough that nothing can live on it anymore (and life, particularly conscious life as the universe’s way of recognizing and admiring itself seems to be an important value to me), and we are self centered and cruel in intentional ways that nearly no other species is…so it’s kind of on the fence for humanity.

Based on the mediocrity of humanity, it doesn’t seem as if there’s any particular ethical push either to live forever or not (unless we assume that we would leave a void that a superior species would fill, and I don’t see any evidence for that). So what about the logistics of living forever?

The first consideration that springs to mind is overcrowding. If people are living forever and still reproducing, where do we put all of these people? What happens if/when we run out of resources? There’s always the possibility that at this point we’ll be terraforming other planets and it wouldn’t be a concern, but without that outlet, it could mean lowering the quality of life for everyone if we continue overpopulating the planet. Another alternative would be to make people stop having babies, but ethically speaking I really can’t condone controlling someone’s reproductive system (see: eugenics and all the things that are wrong with it).

If we can get past overcrowding, another difficulty would be that one of the ways humanity progresses is through new minds that have different starting premises from their parents. This generation almost takes it for granted that marriage equality should and will happen, whereas the previous generation is far more hit or miss on that. People’s brains are far more malleable when they’re young, and it seems quite likely that changing our opinions becomes more and more difficult the older we get (this is not to say it’s impossible). It’s possible we may hit a limit to our ability to remember or even process new information. Before we attempt living forever we would likely need more information about whether or not human brains can continue to develop indefinitely (yes we can grow new brain cells. Slowly. Maybe the forever livers would have to forsake all things that can cause brain damage of any kind).

There are probably two considerations here: the quality of life of the individual who is living forever and whether that is constrained by the human brain (which we could potentially enhance), and whether or not we would be able to continue to improve society with individuals who grew up in worse times hanging around. While consideration 1 is somewhat important, as long as immortality was freely entered with the knowledge of how it would affect one’s brain, I can’t see it as nearly as pertinent as consideration 2.

Say we develop our technology to a point wherein the human brain and body will not decay in our immortality. We download our consciousness into robots and live forever that way. We’re capable of learning and processing new things, growing, changing, and developing indefinitely. How do we decide who gets to live forever? The technology would most likely be expensive and not available to everyone. Should we allow rich, horrible people to live forever? Should there be a mechanism to monitor who takes advantage of the technology so that people who are criminals or a drain on society (whatever the hell that means) or mean or unintelligent or whatever else we deem “not as good” can’t live forever?

Most likely any mechanism like this would feed immediately into systems of privilege that already exist and we’d end up with even older, richer white men. There is no feasible mechanism that would keep society progressing and healthy with some measure of equality in how people are allowed to live forever. Perhaps it would be a lottery system, but it’s hardly an ideal system that potentially could leave us without some of our best minds and humanitarians.

Overall the whole concept of living forever means trying to solve all of today’s ills before we could find a way to equitably distribute eternal life (haha that’s no big deal right?), so if I were given the opportunity, I don’t know that I’d be able to feel ok with myself if I took it.

What other considerations do you see?

Featured image is Arwen for choosing to give up immortal life (like a boss).