A Life Without End by Frédéric (Frederic) Beigbeder
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.3 MB
What does the man who has everything―fame, fortune, a new love, and a new baby―want for his fiftieth birthday? The answer is simple: eternal life. Determined to shake off the first intimations of his approaching demise, Frédéric tries every possible procedure to ward off death, examining both legal and illegal research into techniques that could lead to the imminent replacement of man with a post-human species.
Accompanied by his ten-year-old daughter and her robot friend, Frédéric crisscrosses the globe to meet the world’s foremost researchers on human longevity, who-from cell rejuvenation and telomere lengthening to 3D-printed organs and digitally stored DNA-reveal their latest discoveries. With his blend of deadpan humor and clear-eyed perception,
Beigbeder has penned a brutal and brilliant exposé of the enduring issue of our own mortality.
The lobby of the Geneva University Hospital was filled with antique radiotherapy machines, strange outmoded contraptions, early precursors of scanners. The nuclear medicine of the 1960s has given way to infinitesimal manipulations that are much less cumbersome. Outside the hospital, groups of medical students were sitting on the grass, while, inside, young interns wearing white coats were bustling around bubbling beakers, test tubes, and petri dishes of cells. Here, people were accustomed to domesticating the human animal, trying to correct the flaws of Homo sapiens, perhaps even enhance the aging vertebrate. Switzerland was not afraid of post-humanism, since it recognized man as imperfect from birth. Here, happiness looked like a cool campus, the future was a teen movie set in a medical facility. Romy was spellbound: in the middle of the gardens was a gantry hung with swings, a trapeze, competition rings, there was even a merry-go-round.
The Genetics Department was located on the ninth floor. In his bottle-green polo shirt, Stylianos Antonarakis looked less like Doctor Faustus than a cross between Paulo Coelho and Anthony Hopkins, with all the benevolence of the former and all the magnetism of the latter. The president of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) stroked his white beard and polished his wire-framed glasses like an absent-minded Professor Calculus while, in a joyous and relaxed manner, he explained how humanity was going to mutate. Romy was immediately struck by his new-age approach: the benignant gaze, the friendly smile, the idyllic future. His office was an indescribable mess. A huge plastic model of a double helix lay on its side on a wooden trestle. I glanced at the spines of the books: History of Genetics Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5 … Even recent genomic discoveries were ancient history to this international specialist in the field. A disembowelled computer had been transformed into a jardinière in which some post-atomic designer had planted steel stems blossoming with Nespresso capsules to create a bouquet that would never wither.
“Thank you for setting aside a little of your precious time to meet with us, Professor.”
“We have all eternity ahead of us …”
His glacier-blue eyes perfectly matched the sky outside.
“Could you explain DNA to my daughter?”
“We are each born with an individual genome: a vast text that runs to three billion characters multiplied by two (half from your mother and half from your father). We are all unique individuals because our genomes are unique—except in the case of monozygotic twins. Once we are born, we are subject to somatic mutations caused by the sun, by air pollution, by the food we eat, the medicines we take, and our general lifestyle. This is what we call epigenetics. Aging is also dependent on the individual phenotype. Some people age more quickly than others.”