A friend suggested that “corporate personhood” shouldn’t transcend the length of the human lifespan. She was generous, and suggested 100 years as a good round number, after which corporations would be liquidated. All and all, it seemed somehow fair that legal personage be subject, like us, to the laws of nature. Then it occurred to me that, once Disney’s lawyers got involved, they’d do the same number on the human lifespan as they did on copyright extensions with the result being the legal lengthening of our lives. Fine by me, as long as I can show the statute to the Grim Reaper when he comes and explain that the Mouse House says I’ve got another 50 years, or whatever.
I rarely think of immortality as an abstract construct, at least not since the ’80s, when every girl’s bedroom I wandered into boasted Natalie Merchant’s “Tiger Lily” CD and a copy of Milan Kundera’s “Immortality.” Even the Goth girls, with whom my pursuit of a “little death” was most aptly aligned, had copies of “Immortality.” Of course, they all grew up to be vampires and real estate agents.
Suffice it to say, back then, preventive health care had yet to be invented, my high school still had a smoking section and there weren’t any helmet laws. We weren’t the “Young Invincibles” upon which health insurance is apparently dependent. We were future organ donors.
I don’t mind getting old. It’s the aging that’s killing me. Deathlessness is nothing without agelessness. Imagine living to 150-years-old. You’d look like a walking corpse. And, as these matters go, you’d also boast about how you drink two dry martinis and smoke a pack of Virginia Slims everyday. (Sidebar: Seriously, has there ever been a centenarian who didn’t brag about their daily drinking and smoking?).
At present writing, the oldest person alive is 160-years-old – if you believe the translations by a journalist who interviewed Ethiopian farmer Dhaqabo Ebba in his native language of Oromo. Online photos of the dude look like those of an average 80-year-old who put in a few shifts too many at the local tannery. He’s a human jerky stick. But he has vivid memories of the 1850s, which is better than a lot of Sonomans can say about last night at the Blue Moon.
If you really want to make a stab at longevity, consider publishing your autobiography. Under current copyright law “copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.”
Yes, your autobiography will be copyrighted longer than your life. It’s a form of quasi-immortality. I plan to write mine as pure fiction, making improvements as I see fit for the sake of future readers who will surely demand more of a yarn than the little baubles I write for the papers.
Ironically, anonymous works get a bonus 25 years of copyright protection and can go as far as 120 years “from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.” So, basically, publish your autobiography, don’t put your name on it, then, as a precaution, you should also incorporate as a legal entity. That way, you can exist (on paper) forever until an overly ambitious hedge fund manager tanks you on a bad bet.
Of course, you also will have pulled the ultimate Disneyesque hedge: instead of getting deep-sixed, get the deep-freeze like Uncle Walt. Good cryogenics can outlast a celluloid mouse any day of the millennium. Just ask Dhaqabo Ebba.