My friend David has become interested in Transhumanism – especially its quest to stall the aging process and to allow individuals to achieve immortality.
He told me that, at a recent party of the Transhumanist Party, doubt about the imminence of future immortality for humans was regarded as a great joke. I responded with an off the cuff remark about vampires. He asked me about it in an email and this is what I said…
Vampires are undead, living for ever, feeding on the life-essence of living creatures.
Transhumanists focus on how immortality could be achieved through technological enhancement or manipulation of human biology. The body is envisaged as a vehicle for, or obstacle to, the particular individual’s eternal will-to-power.
Less attention or thought is given to evolution of societal, psychological or ecological systems, were such ‘advances’ to be made available to all humans. Unless we ban birth, these would have to be coupled with a plan for a massive programme of space travel and interplanetary colonisation, to avoid a concomittant clogging up of the earth with aging human souls. (It turns out that space travel is one strand of the Transhumanist project that I wasn’t aware of).
Bram Stoker’s vampires are descended from violent overlords who feed on the life-blood of the local peasants (until they travel to Whitby to feast on the English middle classes).
The Transhuman vision is emerging from the centres of Western (and mainly white and male) knowledge and power. It hardly considers the potential cost to the mass of human and other life-forms and is necessarily a vision for the birth of a new hyper-elite (think Count Dracula and vampire descendents) whose survival is prioritised over all others.
This transhuman/vampire outlives their family, generations of human lovers and friends (while they can still be bothered with humans)- the transhuman may outlive their body. Human temporality and spatiality becomes alien to them- the passing of the seasons, human love, everything but the hungry, survival of the individual becomes irrelevant.