"The Possibility of Immortality..."
An interview about FM-2030
with Flora SCHNALL: p.II

Interviewed by Bircan ÜNVER

For Part I:

"He'd like us to mobilize our collective intelligence to format new modular durable brains that will enable us to trans-live across all space and all times."

In this part of the interview;  Flora SCHNALL talks to us about some of the trends anticipated by FM-2030 such as his philsophy, the "Up-Wingers" organization, his cryonic-suspension, and his books, as well as her involvement with FM-2030.

Can you scientifically define what is meant by "gestation outside"?

"Gestation outside" the body means that the eggs will be fertilized by sperm outside the womb (outside the body) and grow to maturity outside. We already have "invitro fertilization", where eggs are fertilized in a laboratory and then planted in the womb. No human experiments are ongoing but the 'cloning of  animals' certainly is.

What developments did FM-2030 envision in the 21st Century?

In the late 90's, FM was interviewed by the Miami Herald along with Alvin Toffler, and an another futurist. He said that we are "on a whole new trajectory propelling things we can only perceive daily  - new exciting and empowering institutions, healthy life spans of 120 years or more, thereafter -physical immortality, abundance and limitless wealth.

Here is what FM sees over the next 10 to 20 years:

* "George Jetson" - style computer guided individual air cars;
* Micro-computers floating in your veins monitoring your health.
*  Unlimited abundance and freedom.
* A 'fluid' personality is the greatest virtue, instantly adaptable to job-hopping, name changing, and ideology shifting.
* Government by electronic, nationwide town meeting, and turning the U.S. presidency into a figure head position.
* He then listed the things that "are coming":
* Nuclear families outmoded relics of the dying industrial age.
* Central governments-- made obsolete by global communications.
* Hard work as a virtue, while robots can do it for us. 
* Hospital based healing; when doctors can monitor your health from a distance.
* School based education, when you can get it on the internet.
* Left and right wing ideology being relics of industrialism.
* The sinfulness of sex replaced by short-term couplings.
* Patriotism; as communications erase national boundaries.
* Male superiority; who needs him when kids can be cloned?
So these were just some changes he envisioned.

Cloning is particularly interesting to me, what did he think about it?

Since they are now able to clone sheep and other animals, that they ultimately will be able to clone humans. And probably be able to tinker with them and design a child with blue eyes, brown hair, long limbs just about anything else you want. However, FM looked beyond just cloning human, which he thought to be too fragile, too susceptible to disease and accidents. He envisioned the human brain with its intelligience, memories, emotions in a "total body-prostheses."

How did his hypothesis about merging humanity with technology develop?

He was asked about psychedelics and transcending time and space and he said that biochemical tools that help us tamper with our chemical brains are at best amusing. "I look forward," he says, "to something infinitely more radical, the transformation of our brains into something more manageable and versatile."  He wrote about this in his book, "Up-Wingers" in the 70s. "At this stage, we know very little about our semi-intelligent brain but we want to relocate into other kinds of brains.  A leap that I would like to see. Everything else is child's play.  I have very little to say about this monkey brain of mine.  I can't manage it, people like to delude themselves that they have free will, but we are manipulated by biochemical and genetic forces. Nothing short of a massive relocation of our minds will do."  He'd like us to mobilize our collective intelligence to format new modular durable brains that will enable us to trans-live across all space and time."

"Are You A Trans-human?" was published in 1989. Today it is still far ahead of our time. What is the basis of this book?

The basis of the book is to point out the sweeping social, economic, medical, political and technological changes which lie ahead and discuss how these changed will affect the way people live. The book is designed to monitor and stimulate your personal rate of growth in a rapidly changing world. It is also a fun book to read. There are monitors such as:
"How Future Oriented Are You?"
"How Global Are You?"
"How Ecology Conscious Are You?"
"How Immortality Oriented Are You?"

The principle purpose of the book is to help people accelerate change and align their rates of growth. To help determine if their lifestyle needs realigning:
* How aware and open to new new methods of procreation are you? 
* Are you aware of and open to new options for shared parenting and new network intimacy?
* Are you sufficiently fluid in an increasingly fluid world?
* Does your appreciation of art and culture need updating? 
* Does your ideological orientation need adjusting? 
* Does your level of humanity need refining?
* How competitive are you?
* How mobile and telecommunitized are you?
* Are your loyalties and commitments keeping up with an ever expanding global environment?
* In an age of information, how information enriched are you?
* How updated are you on the accelerating pace of advances in all areas of life?

FM asks the question:

Are you a biological fundamentalist? He says: "In the 1950's the idea of synthetic replacement parts for the body was considered at once a bit far fetched and repulsive.

People believed that such interventions would turn us into robots.  Today, tens of millions of people all over the world are alive because we are able to replace non-functioning body parts with effective substitutes.  If we want to extend each life far in the future, we need to make more radical changes.  We can't live for 100's of years with these fragile, limited bodies.  Those who want to live forever should be prepared to except profound transformations in all areas of life."

What is the concept of the "Up-Wingers" organization?

The Up-Wingers manifesto developed by FM is on his web site, The Up-Winger philosophy is a "new philosophical threat" -beyond Right and Left- beyond conservative and liberal and conventional radicalism. Beyond existentialism. "Up" is committed to the next stage in evalution and in history." The Up-Wingers philosophy is: optimism, abundance, universalism, immortality.

Some of the ideas it is devoted to are as follows: space colonization, new forms of relationships, new forms of government, and vegetarianism. Up-Wingers sponsored a vegetarian festival in Long Island with about 300 guests. We had wonderful speakers from the Human Society of America, PETA and other animal rights organizations. We had an excellent and delicious vegetarian feast. We also had animals so people could see that when they eat chicken, they're killing this nice hen. When they have a lamb chop, they are killing a lamb. We had animals there so that the guests could see exactly what it was they were eating. And the reason for FM's & Up-Wingers vegetarianism is -Humanitarianism. He was a vegetarian because he was against killing.

FM had been a vegetarian since he was a young boy. His family had a pet lamb, which he and his sisters watched as it was slaughtered. They never ate meat again. His grandfather tried to pressure him to eat, but he never did again. In fact, he never killed an insect, he'd just throw it out.

When was "Up-Wingers" founded? Who is in charge of it today?

Up-Wingers is a non-profit tax exempt charitable organization established in the 70's by FM, a group of intellectuals and futurists. Today many of the founders and Up-Wingers are still involved in its activities. It's latest project involves a web site in honor of FM2030.

What was the starting point?  As a futuristic outlook or just opposing what was happening in the world at that time?

No, I would say that the starting point was to change the world. Something easy like that.  So we sponsored seminars,  festivals, and 'discussion groups' to promote change.  Things that we believe in and things that would make the world a better place. Scientific research investigates the conquest of disease, promoting the monitoring of 'illnesses' by developing "body" suits to monitor & protect humans. We spent considerable effort trying to develop the "body suit" --it would keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It would monitor any irregular heartbeat.  It would be something not cumbersome to wear.  Something similar to what astronauts wear, of course more manageable. A protective garment that would make life simpler.

Do you agree how one reporter describes FM as a "chronic optimist"?

Definitely, his first non-fiction book was called,"Optimism One" and it was based on his optimistic approach to life, to humanity and to mankind's future. I always saw him optimistic even in the face of adversity.

Then, how did he evaluate the World's ongoing events like war, crime and etc.?

I think he looked back and saw conclusively that things were much better now and things were improving. When there was a genocide in Kosovo, the World knew about it, and perhaps they were slow to take action, but they did act. It is hard to keep information from getting around the world today. So, you know that if people are committing evil acts and wrong doings, that the world is going know about it and that they will take action. I think that's a very important fact in the past when a message might take three months to get from Europe to North America, and now it takes a second. So you can't do evil things without the world organizing and world opinion influencing events. Why did a powerful president of the United States seek re-election? Because of the opposition to the war in Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson was forced not to seek a second term by public opinion. Today many significant ideas and movements are originating outside of the government. For example, many grassrootgroups such as:  -the feminist movement, the greenpeace movement, the civil rights movement... These are important powerful forces that did not emanate from the government, but from elected leaders. I think we'll see more and more of this because of the power of the Internet and the effect of globalization. "Optimism One" contrasted the world of the past and the world of today and how many things have improved.

How long before did FM decide for his cryonic-suspension from the actual fact?

He signed with ALCOR over 20 years ago. FM decided to be suspended rather than die. He did it when he went to California. FM was always very supportive of cryonic suspension. Up-Wingers sponsored a number of discussions about cryonic suspension. ALCOR representatives attended several meetings to talk about suspension.

Did he know that he had cancer when he signed up for his cryonic-suspension at that time?

No, there was no connection. FM was a very healthy person. He never smoked, and never drank. He was an athlete, and a lifelong vegetarian. I think he expected to live until the year 2030.  His father lived well into his 90's. So, it was quite a shock when he became ill.

Being suspended was very important to him. He always felt he had nothing to lose by being frozen but much to gain.  But he would ask people "Do you want to live forever?"  Some people might say "oh, no", but I always I wanted to live forever.  I want to see how the world evolves. I want to visit other planets. I find the idea of physical immortality very exciting.

I assume that, you have a very similar idea with FM-2030, because your e-mail screen name ends with four digits as 2050. Perhaps, you planned to live until 2050?

The year 2050, yes, but perhaps longer. FM was 2030, then I became 2050. You can have a new name as well. Everybody can pick the name. What name would you like?

When did you first meet him?

I met FM in the late 60's. I met him at a party. He had just published his last novel.

Which one was it?

"Identity Card" and he had a different first name as well as a different last name. His first name was not one that I had heard of before so I asked him: "So, how do you spell your name?" He took out his card and handed it to me. Now this is in the 60's when girls did not call boys, and I looked at his card and saw a telephone number on the back of the card. I said "What's this?" and he said "Well in case you want to call me or anything."  I was quite astonished. Later he had a different interpretation of the event. He said I had come to the party with another man and he was trying to be diplomatic and discreet. This was his version. So of course I did not call him because as I said, girls did not call boys in the 60's. Nice girls didn't call boys. But, we did have a lot of mutual friends so we did meet again until later on when we became very close friends and our lives together were interlocked even though we lived in different cities,and did not have an exclusive relationship. Neither of us married or had children.  We were like Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.  Although, I have yet to write my first book.  We did have a very close, intimate relationship, sharing ideas and goals. He was one of the kindest men I've ever met and people all around the world  constantly sought him out for advice and guidance. He was a very wise person, and while he did not train as a psychiatrist, he was, I would tell you as good as it gets. He was compassionate, he helped young people, he helped people change their lives.  While he didn't believe in marriage, he helped to save marriages. It was hard to keep up with him. He was constantly changing, constantly moving. And I am by nature slightly conservative, so maybe it was a good combination.

What sort of ideas struck you as first?

Well, I liked his ideas. I thought they were very exciting. When I read his novel, I sat down and read it through. I couldn't put it down. It was just gripping. I was really surprised when he decided he would write non-fiction, but he felt he didn't want to dramatize his ideas; he wanted to write about them. And I'd help with research and it was exciting the way he developed his ideas. I don't know how he developed them, but he did a lot of research himself, reading scientific journals and newspapers and magazines and he was one of those uncanny people who could put their finger on trends, see how things were changing, anticipate them and hopefully, at times, guide them to where he thought they should be.

I read a report which emphasizes that most scientists, intellectuals and especially his students who had taken his courses and seminars, kept in touch with him...

He was a mentor to hundreds of people. Many of his former students have established themselves in the field of future planning and they have been very successful at it. FM gave many lectures and seminars to governments and industry. Last February, in Tallahassee he delivered an all day seminar to the Florida Department of Justice.  District attorneys & police chiefs from around the of Florida attended.  And he was invited by banks, by architects, by economists and by all kinds of organizations to consult with them and deliver lectures. It was important for these organizations to determine what lay ahead in their planning for the future of their businesses.

This may be a little difficult to talk with you but I would like to know more about his cryonic-suspension process. In general, are there any special regulations to apply to be frozen?

Well, I am not a scientist, but basically blood is replaced with a fluid and the body is cooled. If you go to ALCOR's web site, WWW.ALCOR.ORG, there is great deal of information about cryonics and pictures of the containers in which people are being suspended. I don't think they're calling it frozen, they call it suspended. There is a film, "Immortality on Ice" that was shown on Channel 7 it shows the process.

What is its policy and process? How does this process work officially? Who can be eligible?

Anyone is eligible to be suspended. One signs a contract with ALCOR or another cryonic organizations where payments are made through life insurance. FM wore an ALCOR bracelet. If something happend to him, the braclet had a telephone number to call.  So if something happens there is a phone number to call because its very important to have the body cooled in time and to get it to the ALCOR facilities quickly. They've developed a standby team so if you know you're terminally ill, this team of doctors and scientists can stand by to make all necessary arrangements.

Are there any obstacles in terms of law?

There are no obstacles that I know of but there aren't enough doctors familiar with the process to be helpful. If there is a hiatus between death and delivering the body to ALCOR's facilities. Getting medical cooperation in the future to preserve the body until the suspension process is underway, there will be a big improvement. So, yes there is a lot that could be done in the future to improve the process and educating more people about cyronic suspension. And also, there is the process of education.

I also read from one of the reports he was revising 'Countdown the Immortality' right before his cryonic-suspension.  Was this one his last book that he was working on?

FM was also finishing other books, "Healing of the 20th Century, The Coming Age of Abundance". All of FM's books will be republished by an e-publisher along with the unpublished books. Publication date is sometime next year.

As last, where can we find his books?

Well, I am going to republish his books. That's one of "Up-Wingers" projects to raise the money to maintain his web site and sign a contract to publish his books with an e-publisher. His books should be available in several months. For now, they can be bought on-line from any out of the print book web sites.

- . -

Special Thanks to Flora Schnall for her participation.

©Bircan Unver, New York, October 2000

This issue is dedicated to contemporary Turkish artist Erol AKYAVA┼×.
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