201 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Eric S. Rabkin extreme unction. Indeed, on a subsequent visit, the narrator elicits vibrations from the tongue of the unbreathing, cold Valdemar, and they say, “I am dead” (pg. 277). Finally the narrator decides to try awakening his subject. The story ends with this paragraph: As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejacula- tions  of  “Dead!  Dead!”  absolutely  bursting  from  the tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole frame at once – within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk – crumbled – absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome – of detestable putridity. (pg. 280) At the most obvious level, this ending suggests that there are  some  things  “that  man  was  not  meant  to  know”;  that primal disobedience, such as seeking immortality, may appear to  work  for  a  pregnant  while,  but  ultimately  the  divinely- ordained human dissolution will have its way. But at a deeper level, this is a grotesque, dirty joke. The ejac- ulations of the tongue parody the ejaculations of a penis and the quick, spasmodic shrinking “beneath my hands” equates unnatural  science  with  masturbation.  Instead  of  describing fertile seed, the story reveals its narrator’s own anxieties by ending with “a nearly liquid mass of loathsome […] putrid- ity.” In Genesis, the very instant Adam and Eve ate the apple, “they knew that they were naked” (Gn 3:7). With mortality comes sexuality; those who seek immortality, the power of the gods, seek, perhaps unknowingly, to exchange procreation for creation. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [11] can restore dead flesh to what may well be permanent life, but the monster, more human than his creator, seeks only a bride, while Victor, like Poe’s masturbatory narrator, holds off death with his own hands  alone.  In  Interview  With  the  Vampire,  Anne  Rice’s