Thursday, March 1, 2012



Professor Levitt stood at the podium looking out on the amphitheater of students. Approximately 120 degrees of faces. His eyes panned them. They were all busy chattering to one another as though there was a mating ritual going on. Shuffling their papers. Slugging bottled water. Some human. Some not. The ones that were not, were there to mentor their assigned humans.
"LOOK!!!" he suddenly shouted at the top of his lungs into the microphone. There seemed a moment of gasps, and knee-jerk exclamations, and then the room fell vacuously silent. And his audience seemed frozen and were looking unblinkingly up at him. At first he just looked around nodding, then bent to put his lips close to the mike.
"Yes," he said almost in a whisper. "Do you feel that too? A sudden collectiveness? A convergence of some kind? A synergy. 327 faces with pairs of eyes and the minds behind them converging on a point? A single point. A point right about here," he said tapping the middle of his forehead with his finger. "A point just above and just between the eyes, and just a little back there in my skull somewhere. And in that moment I saw what each and every one of you was thinking. You were thinking, 'Get on with it you old fart, I have bigger fish to fry.'" He paused as a stereophonic gush of sputtering laughter, and sudden exclamations burst out and echoed around the room. And then he began pacing the floor, his hands clasped behind his back. And the room fell silent again.

"We find it easy as humans, to be distracted. Disorganized. It is such hard work to focus our attention. Difficult to get organized. Always running along behind the course of entropy stumbling over pieces of our own stuff. We find it hard at times to keep it together, as the saying goes. And so, we honor today the revolutionary mind of Vladamir Karpov who has changed all that by redefining the very structure of the human clone. Today the clone is the whole person re-invented. A replica of you, mind, soul, and body. A you that lives on after you die. And a new you that accomplishes now what you as a mortal found it difficult to accomplish in your brief fleshly lifetime."

Professor Rupert Levitt was loved and revered by all those attending the academy. He was practically an urban legend. Transfer of Being 101 was a required course, unless one had a death wish. And while there were a half-dozen professors who taught it, Levitt was the one everyone wanted to get. The student's eyes followed him as he walked from one side of the amphitheater to the other. Their heads slowly turning in unison. He wielded a large piece of chalk in one hand, and seemed to be gesturing with it as though in imaginary conversation. He removed the microphone from its stand on the podium as he passed it, and continued walking.

"Vladamir Karpov. He's the one who started it," he said, in a quiet monotone. "Some eight decades ago now. To be more exact, it was precisely at 13:35 Coordinated Universal Time, October 23rd, in the year 2,121. A holiday now. The Day of Crossing. And now on this day in 3001, you come to learn of how it is that one can decode the heart and digitize it. And how one can replicate not only one's memories, but the very manner in which you think. And most importantly, how one can transfer all that into the empty heart, the empty mind, the empty soul of a bionic clone one day," He paused on his stage and looked about.

"A clone, who can continue being you after you cease to be," he continued. "I assure you, it is not for the faint of heart. Many choose to remain mortal. That is their right. For now, I assume most, if not all, of you want to go on. I recommend that you put away your pens and pencils and jack your micro-computers into the ports on the back of the seat in front of you before I proceed. He walked back to the podium and poured some water from a pitcher into a glass. He took a long drink, and wiped his mouth.

"Now then, let us begin at the beginning. With Vladamir Karpov. He was a spindly frail kind of boy. Gangly and awkward. And he was prone to illnesses of all kinds. Most of his boyhood he spent in bed. And yet, he was quite sharp, and a voracious reader. He would lay in his bed day after day, poring through texts of all kinds, interrupted only now and then by his mother bringing a tray of food. At the age of 19, the same year he wrote the now classic Comprehensive History of Atheism, he realized he had been stricken by an aggressive mutant cancer that was immune to treatment. There was nothing that could stop it. Quite feverish most of the time, he still managed to map out the paradigm that would change all life as we now know it. Today one can see his original manuscript at the State Museum. It is entitled, 'The Transfer of Being', and it was scrawled out in his own tembling hand as his condition worsened . Unfortunately, Vladamir did not live long enough to see this hypothesized transfer take place. He was dead at 23. But then came Svetlana, his lovely daughter who began to explore the many pages he had written. She had been but an infant when her father died. We will pick up on Svetlana's devotion in our next session." He stood there before them, his arms limp at his side. Still clinging to the big piece of chalk he never used.


(to be continued...)