Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part I: Something Rotten Is Atwitch

BookOn Friday, June 14, 2013, sometime after 05:30 pm MDT, I read this in Salon: Russians who raised the dead.

The expertly titled to titillate, Salon’s article enticed me to click on it almost instinctively. Not because I want to be risen from the dead when dead becomes my state, but because it’s “ethnic designation”. Russians? Another “look at ‘em weird Russians” stuff?  Some revelation National Enquirer style – can’t even think of anything appropriately witty to mock this respectable publication where everything is true, just ask the Men In Black.

For once, I was wrong. The article is an excerpt from How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Controlby Frank Swain, the book that is coming out tomorrow, June 19th from Oneworld Publications.

Another titillating title, but we understand, don’t we, that the writer tries to shock the readers or else they turn to something with the title like… well, use your imagination here and come up with a pop-science book you couldn’t resist for the title alone.

From the Oneworld Publications’ press release:

Join a notorious pop science punk as he investigates real zombie reports from around the world.

The search for the means to control the bodies and minds of our fellow humans has been underway for millennia, from the sleep-inducing honeycombs that felled Pompey’s army to the Voodoo potions of Haiti. Now, Frank Swain, the force behind Science Punk, has joined the quest, digging up genuine zombie research:

  • dog heads brought back to life without their bodies
  • secret agents dosing targets with zombie drugs
  • parasites that push their hosts to suicide or sex changes
  • the elixir of life hidden in an eighteenth-century painting

This mind-bending and entertaining excavation of incredible science is unlike anything you’ve read before.

 All right then, unlike anything you’ve read before. Perhaps. Or maybe not.

The excerpt is a mere page or two of the book. The narrative has to do with experiments  conducted between 1924 and 1929 by the scientists of the Soviet Russia to revive fish and dog heads, and even a human being (bold verbiage is a quotation of the Salon’s article bi-line).

In the last nearly 100 years, nothing much changed to ease or alleviate human desire to conquer death. Interestingly, people of means (particularly of enormous means) and people of power   (particularly of enormous power) expressed especially urgent, I’d say, vital interest in retaining youth, virility and, better yet, living forever, not necessarily in mausoleums. If your life is constant suffering, you may not be all too eager to prolong your agony ad infinitum. But even this is debatable and very personal matter of choice.

Research paths to immortality may have changed, but the plea remains: As a king (dictator, president, ruler, fearless leader etc),  having the power to send millions of people to their deaths,  isn’t it ironic that, eventually, I have to die just like any other downtrodden SOB?

Or this: I have wealth that equals to yearly GDP of a small country, surely about twice that of Nepal, can’t I live at least twice as long as average Nepalese? Better yet, can’t I live forever? (See my blog Vox Populi And Dalai Lama’s, Too: 2045 on how some small billionaires deal with this big dilemma, searching for paths to immortality where no surgeon dares to tread.)

The new leaders of young Soviet Russia, I surmise, were no different from other mortals with power to wield. God knows, they wanted to see their ideas to conquer the world, thus needed to live a little longer, like, say, forever.

That’s where science comes handy. In the first decades of 20th century medicine was that science. Scalpel was that instrument. Electricity was that power. Surgeon, chemist and engineer were those magicians. Medical lab, operating room, whirl of engine – and something dead is suddenly atwitch.

Below is a 2.5 minute long excerpt from the documentary film «Experiments in the Revival of Organisms» (1940) about Sergei Bryukhonenko’s experiment with the dog’s severed head attached to autojektor.

This post is titled fetchingly, I hope.  Coming soon is Part II, called Stellar Moments of Humanity, Part II: Monkey Nuts.

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