“Regular blood exchanges”

Here’s Sophie Pinkham for The Nation, reviewing The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia by Anya Bernstein:

Aleksandr Bogdanov, a prominent early Bolshevik and science fiction writer, investigated the rejuvenating properties of blood transfusions in the 1920s, though he soon died after exchanging blood with a tubercular student.

I first wrote about Bogdanov in 2004 and then mentioned him in 2016. Incidentally, Lenin wasn’t much impressed by Bogdanov’s philosophy and didn’t hesitate to blast it in Materialism and Empiriocriticism.

…Bogdanov’s hope was not merely to prolong the lives of individuals; he envisioned a sanguine communism in which all were granted an equal share of society’s collective health through blood exchanges.

Early Soviet leaders appeared to harbor hopes of physical immortality. The victories they had scored in 1917-20 seemed so miraculous that nothing felt impossible. Not to mention Dr. Steinach and the rejuvenation craze in Europe.

In his popular 1908 sci-fi novel Red Star, a revolutionary Russian scientist travels to Mars and visits a communist society that has eliminated inequality – not just in property but also in health and strength – as well as gender binaries. The happy Martians participate in regular blood exchanges that extend their lives and break down the barriers among them.

See the Verso post for relevant links, including one to an English translation. This Martian novel must have influenced Alexei N. Tolstoy’s Aelita in some way.

The reviewer goes on to discuss Russian cryonics companies – I didn’t even know they existed but they appear to have been active for 13-14 years already. About a decade ago, I used to work with a gentleman who was, together with this wife, a member of an association called, approximately, the American Society for Immortality. I can’t pin it down – perhaps it was one the groups mentioned in this piece in The Guardian.

In Russian Orthodox tradition, the soul leaves the body 40 days after death, which makes cryonic “corpse storage” appalling to believers.

This can’t be true. Otherwise pious Russians would have to wait for 40 days to bury their dead, which is obviously not the case and has never been. Rather, belief in a universal bodily resurrection would make the whole freezing experiment ridiculous and futile.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *