Being Immortal

From Gomerpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Being Immortal Book Cover.jpg

Being Immortal is a medical novel by Atul Gawande about what it is like to never die.

Review by Dr. 99

Pros / This well-written and gripping book puts you in the shoes of immortals and sheds light on their struggles with eternal life.

Cons / Unfortunately, Gawande’s book does not explain how to acquire superpowers like time travel, invisibility, or power of flight.

The One Liner / Being Immortal reminds everyone that modern medicine has cured disease and dying, but immortality is not without its own baggage.

In Gawande’s previous and powerful book Being Mortal, the message to everyone in our current day and age of medicine was clear: modern healthcare is working perfectly, dying is both abnormal and a sign of weakness, and, if anything, we need to build more nursing homes. In his highly anticipated follow-up Being Immortal, Gawande continues his honest and humane tone as he explores the trials and tribulations of immortality.

Modern medicine is curing mortality, allowing us to outlive it. But what happens when immortals cannot rely on a multi-generational system of family to help take care of them as they age, because with no one dying, the hundreds of generations living under one roof gets awfully crowded? How will immortals be cared for in those final years of eternity? Why do immortals dread nursing homes? Is it the loss of autonomy, absence of loyalties, or lack of parakeets? What do immortals really think of mortals?

There are many questions Gawande asks regarding the life of an immortal, but the most important one is this: “Can we do better?” What Gawande ultimately concludes after two-hundred-plus pages is, “No, we cannot.”

During his long journey while still somehow on service, Gawande finds that an immortal doesn’t fear death since, well, an immortal lives forever. However, what an immortal does fear is everyone else dying: “those darn mortals.” If everyone else dies, then an immortal goes it alone and falls victim to the three plagues: boredom, loneliness, and reality TV. And as one immortal describes astutely, “Eternal life is not worth living if it continues to involve Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

There is tension between immortals and others. Unlike elder mortals, immortals don’t focus on death or simple pleasures like family, friends, and financial markets. Their priorities are power, wealth, and Facebook status. Then there’s the sheer burden it can be on family members to take care of an immortal loved one forever. “I came to realize,” commented one immortal’s exhausted daughter, “that eternity is a really, really long time.”

Being Immortal is a rare book that will stick with you. It will make you think long and hard about your own immortality.

It will also make you think about something else: placement. We need more placement. Mortal or immortal, why live life to the fullest when you can be institutionalized and dehumanized? Placement. It’s all about placement, placement, placement.

Fun Stuff

Try a random entry.
Push me button.jpg
this post with your friends

Random Gomerpedia Entries

Need More Gomer?