Raised without religion, Adam Leith Gollner was struck by mankind's tireless efforts to cheat aging and death. In a narrative that pivots between profundity and hilarity, he brings us into the world of those whose lives are shaped by a belief in immortality. From a Jesuit priest on his deathbed to antiaging researchers at Harvard, Gollner - sorting truth from absurdity - canvasses religion and science for insight, along with an array of cults, myths, and fringe figures.
He journeys to David Copperfield's archipelago in the Bahamas, where the magician claims to have found "a liquid that reverses genes". He explores a cryonics facility, attends a costume party set in the year 2068 with a group of radical life-extensionists, and soaks in the transformative mineral waters at the Esalen Institute. Looking to history, Gollner visits St. Augustine, Florida, where Ponce de Leon is thought to have sought the Fountain of Youth.
Combining immersive reporting, rigorous research, and lyrical prose, Gollner charts the rise of longevity science from its alchemical beginnings to modern-day genetic interventions. He delves into the symbolic representation of eternal life and its connection to water. Interlaced throughout is a compelling meditation on the nature of belief, showing how every story we tell about immortality is a story about the meaning of death.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
After making the claim that a lack of belief is a belief, it was hard to take this writer seriously. By that point I could not reconcile any logical explanations with presented facts without second guessing his every word. I half expected to hear about how that which is not blue is really just another kind of blue. This might have worked as a comedy (Monty-style), but as is, it was not worth the purchase.
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