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"Robbing from your future self"

He boggled. "You can't just take dope for the rest of your life, son. Eventually, something will happen to this body--I see from your file that you're stroke-prone--and you're going to get refreshed from your backup. The longer you wait, the more traumatic it'll be. You're robbing from your future self for your selfish present. (Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom 162)

This almost sounds like a conversation between a parent and child (the doctor does call Julius "son," after all). It reminds me of the kind of talk a parent would have with an irresponsible child who is 'throwing his life away' by refusing to grow up and take responsibility for his own wellbeing. It's strange, because you'd think there's no sense in distinguishing between your present self and your future self in Doctorow's fictional world--you never die--but for Julius, it's a distinction that makes all the difference. The doctor, too, seems like he's drawing a division between the two, but it's only for the sake of convenience; it really has nothing to do with the two very different lives of who Julius is now and who he might be when his fresh upload is complete.

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Comments

I had the same reaction, Kayla. But I think you hit the nail on the head. I guess just because you never die doesn't mean you don't grow wiser with age. After all, since they can live through multiple lifetimes, their memories and experience seem to accumulate without deteriorating or being forgotten altogether.

Good point, Kayla. Since there are many people around who remember what it was like pre-bitchun, age is at least some hint towards social attitudes. There was also a reference to "age-appropriate" stories on the Pirates of the Caribbean, so we see that immortality doesn't erase the value of age in the definition of personhood.

I'm surprised age even matters to them since they never die. But age must equal wisdom to them because he says things like: "Jeanine says it's pretty good, but what does she know? She's barely fifty."

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