- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (27 Dec. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1560259841
- ISBN-13: 978-1560259848
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 20.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,294,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection Paperback – 27 Dec 2006
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A Profiles in Courage for the creative set: As we leave the Information Age and enter the Conceptual Age, the most important people, and certainly the most interesting, will be those who create inventions that change our ways of life and break new ground
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Top Customer Reviews
I will not spoil the read for you by giving a synopsis, but this book contains many gems. You will come across "The Epic of Gilgamesh" quite a lot - if you haven't read this, you should anyway. Also, there are sections on Quantum Immortality, some effects of (illegal) drugs, and a nice long discussion of "The Matrix" and its creators. Pen and paper at the ready - get reading!!!!
Apart from that the book is fine. Very interesting. But wrong about Capote. He was not a genius, just a narcissist. I wouldn't mind a few blank pages in his books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
One of the highlights of "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" is Chapter 3, "Gilgamesh, God, and the Language of Angels." Pickover confesses that the "Epic of Gilgamesh" is one of his deepest obsessions. And we get a feel for his zeal as he recounts the ancient Mesopotamian king's search for immortality. But there is also a lot of extraneous material in this chapter. It's a virtual Mind Salad of eclecticism. Pickover's brain is fizzing with ideas and impressions, perhaps as a result of his relentless work ethic and voracious reading habits, and they seem to inundate his consciousness as he writes. I find this stimulating. Others may differ, wishing instead for a simpler, more direct narrative line.
At his best, Pickover's mind is encyclopedic -- correction: it's Wikipedic! It's Google-alien! Who else would focus on "The Brain from Planet Arous" in a chapter about Truman Capote? But Pickover does, and it can be fascinating because you get a completely different mental picture once you exit Truman Capote's peculiar oeuvre and enter the zany universe of Fifties science-fiction flicks, of which Pickover is a connoisseur. He loves the movies themselves, but also their filmmakers and the whole idea that some P.T. Barnum showman could make some outrageous, low-budget, horror-show hokum with B-list actors and still turn a tidy profit.
But Pickover can also be deadly serious, and I find this quote from "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft, (which also appears in Chapter 3) to be quite haunting:
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We lie on the placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
After reading "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" you may suspect that Cliff Pickover actually wants "the human mind to correlate all its contents." Which could be precisely what happens to the most intelligent human beings in the 21st Century anyway. If so, what he has to offer in this book should be of interest to the armchair existentialists. We all want to live forever. But then again, maybe not.