Volume 23, Number 3

Poem Ending with a Line by Shelley

Immortality becomes possible. The issues
of cost, overcrowding, resources, caste
are too awful to contemplate. The churches
complain it’s the wrong kind:
not posthumous in Heaven;
the secular undying, they say,
will kill themselves out of boredom.
At which the sort of people who speak in terms
not of the mind or soul but of the brain
ask Why? The thought of someday running out
of things to think or do (or feel,
a female researcher adds) may be
indefinitely deferred, the way
we currently put off the thought of dying.
And boredom itself may not remain
a problem. Like sexuality
or metabolism, it appears
a combination of genetic/synaptic
markers, some of which could be cut,
some spliced. That poem
(a scientist surprisingly states)
about really paying enough attention
in bed would become reality.
Explorers needn’t hibernate
on interstellar voyages, while here
we might learn to appreciate the moment,
to be still. But various left-wing bloggers
point out that the elimination of boredom
would mean the final triumph
of corporations, both over employees
and those who sit at home by their TVs.
Cultists would love it, and for that matter the churches,
for all best things are thus confused to ill.

—Frederick Pollack