Like me, Cohen is dubious that drugs will be able to give us extended life without dieting and, indeed of the whole project of life extension:
Monkeys’ emotions were part of my childhood. My father, a doctor, worked with them all his life. His thesis at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, was on the menstrual cycle of baboons. When he settled in Britain in the 1950s, he had some of his baboons (average life span 30) shipped over, ultimately donating a couple to the London Zoo.
Upon visiting the zoo much later, he got a full-throated greeting from the baboons, who rushed to the front of their cage to tell him they’d missed him. Moral of story: Don’t underestimate monkeys’ feelings.
Which brings me to low-cal Canto and high-cal Owen: Canto looks drawn, weary, ashen and miserable in his thinness, mouth slightly agape, features pinched, eyes blank, his expression screaming, “Please, no, not another plateful of seeds!”Well-fed Owen, by contrast, is a happy camper with a wry smile, every inch the laid-back simian, plump, eyes twinkling, full mouth relaxed, skin glowing, exuding wisdom as if he’s just read Kierkegaard and concluded that “Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward.”
I don’t buy this gain-without-pain notion. Duality resides, indissoluble, at life’s core — Faust’s two souls within his breast, Anna Karenina’s shifting essence. Life without death would be miserable. Its beauty is bound to its fragility. Dawn is unimaginable without the dusk.When life extension supplants life quality as a goal, you get the desolation of Canto the monkey. Living to 120 holds zero appeal for me. Canto looks like he’s itching to be put out of his misery.