Interview with director, Robert Kane Pappas, pt 1

February 10, 2010

Robert Kane Pappas

Q: You started out as a skeptic…?
 I tend to become a serial expert on whatever it is I’m making a movie about. My last film was about the news media—another simple subject. What I do is delve into these areas and then use my ignorance as my strength. I can connect dots partly because of my limited knowledge. When you know a lot about something, it’s actually harder to see the forest for the trees. . . . I can go on about this phenomenon but I won’t right now.

What I found out in this film is that evolution doesn’t care about lifespan per se, changing lifespan is not like changing the speed of light. Over the past 20 years, the scientists have been amazed at how easy it is to change lifespan in all the species they’ve experimented on. It’s true. The question is not whether they will be able to change human lifespan, but how soon and for how long.

I don’t think I’m an advocate. I went from skeptic—really my ignorance—to thinking that it is likely happening now, and trying to figure out what it will mean for people. After three years of making this picture, the science is just pointing in a certain direction.

Q: Isn’t that called the Stockholm Syndrome?
RKP: Ummm . . . The old self brainwashing thing, always a possibility. Or wishful thing perhaps? Or the Moses Syndrome? Seriously, there is definitely a psychological moment as you study this subject when you go “oh my god, the silly age-old Ponce de Leon myths may turn out to be true”—when you actually consider that . . . just let your mind wander and wonder. . . . like finding out there really is a Santa Claus, very odd.

Q: Do you believe it’s man’s destiny to live 550 years?
RKP: To 500 years . . . George Bernard Shaw suggested through his characters in “Back to Methuselah” that man needs to live to at least 300. That we die too young to do ourselves or society much good. Bless Shaw’s little iconoclastic heart. I do think “human nature” would evolve. In Shaw’s play, there’s this political leader who goes along with this line of thinking for a while but then catches himself and says something like “but this is pie in the sky nonsense.” If the queen of England had ball she’d be king…

But according to the esteemed evolutionary biologist Tom Kirkwood, the natural flow of evolution is in the direction of longer lifespan. Scientifically this is important. They already know that the germ is immortal, transferred from one generation to another.

Could the destiny of biological lifespan be immortality? Who knows.

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