Between Eternal Life and Death Wishes: Imagining Transhumanism in Popular Culture. University of Zurich 19 June 2020

Ad Vitam (France 2019) Screenshot

Recent TV series such as ALTERED CARBON (USA 2018) or AD VITAM (France 2019) do not just portray the possibilities of eternal life through technologies often imagined in transhumanist discourses (cloning, mind transfer, cell regeneration), but more importantly they discuss the tensions between wanting to live forever and wanting to die.

In particular, in the first few minutes of AD VITAM, an advert for a referendum on birth control to address population growth sets the scene. A disillusioned young generation seems to be increasingly at odds with their older generation that has decided to stay young forever.

Religious groups, sects, and fanatics feature in both TV productions as the predominant context in which opposition to eternal life flourishes. This paper will explore the “religious” a a means in popular culture to engage with both transhumanist ideas of eternal life and its critics. It will explore the question if there is anything we can learn from the category of “religious fanatics”.