205 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Eric S. Rabkin It is for the same reason that Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker praises not swarming “hive minds” that obliterate the indi- vidual but the “intricate symbiosis” [19, pg. 255] represented by a perfect marriage, by that “prized atom of community” [19 pg. 257] in which two may depend upon each other – and procreate – but in which each maintains essential individual- ity, and risks individual death. Against this view, we have Blood Music, in which Greg Bear lets loose a plague of “intelligent leukocytes” and the world is transformed, all of us ultimately parts of a planetary hive mind. The protagonist says, “if I die here, now, there’s hun- dreds of others tuned in to me, ready to become me, and I don’t die at all. I just lose this particular me […] it becomes impossible to die” [20 pg. 197]. Bear’s protagonist may believe that, but identical twins do not: no matter the duplication of information in another copy, the death of the individual as contemplated by that individual is death indeed. And the capacity to die is a great, self-defining freedom, the ultimate existential freedom according to Sartre and Camus and the very ground of conflict between the individual and the state, as seen in the hospitalized, limbless combat victim in Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun [21], in Brian Clark’s tube-fed paraplegic in Whose Life Is It Anyway? [22], and in D-503, the protagonist of Eugene Zamiatin’s We, after the “splinter [of imagination] has been taken out of [his] head” and he is reduced to a permanent, idiot grin, for “Reason must prevail” [23, pg. 217–218]. This happy state of inevitable obedience is the ultimate Eden, and the splinter removed from D-503 is the “thorn” of the plant Gilgamesh sought, its prickle remind- ing us that we are alive as individuals only when we are subject to death. It  is  said  that  when  Michelangelo  completed  the  ideal- ized Medici tombs ordered by Pope Clement VII someone remarked on an absence of realism. “Who will care,” the great