January 24, 2010

Martin Amis recommends "death booths" as a solution to the "population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops."

"I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years' time. There should be a booth on every corner where you could get a martini and a medal."

A martini and a medal and... death.  Picture it:

69 comments:

ricpic said...

Martin Amis is Kingsley Amis minus a heart.

rhhardin said...

That's the part of the film when you go out to the lobby for refreshments.

Joe said...

He'll change his tune in 10 to 15 years.

Were he serious, he'd kill himself now else become a hypocrite.

Rose said...

Sometimes I don't want to imagine the turns man's inhumanity to man might take.

When my own parents said rather resignedly that, of course, Obama was going to have to make tough decisions, and that older people like themselves weren't, AS A MATTER OF PRACTICALITY - a good investment of healthcare dollars - I cringe. And I rant. And I said, you may say that, but we aren't going to let that happen.

But it can. And when it does, it will be because of those who go complicitly, like that man. It will be the good people, the obedient law abiding good citizens who go along.

Not just this, - the same with 'the fairness doctrine' - shutting down free speech, gun control, nanny-state foods being dictated by govt... every day we see ourselves inching towards it - and we turn our own heads believing it will self correct. But will it?

Awesome said...

"Martin Amis is Kingsley Amis
minus a heart."

Ha ha! That's what makes Martin so great :)

Chip Ahoy said...

You know there's a measure of truth to that stinking up the restaurants quip. That happened once. It hit me as a warning to my future self as a thing to make sure to avoid.

Florida said...

What people really haven't realized is that the science of stem cell research is on the verge of changing mankind forever.

We are about to eliminate much of the disease that tends to thin our populations.

We are about to be able to regrow all body parts. Heart disease, the leading killer of people, is on the cusp of being a thing of the past.

We now have the ability to replace most of the parts of us that kill us. We have already passed the horizon where war thinned our numbers.

Soon, it will be very possible for people to live to be hundreds of years old.

At first, only the rich will be able to afford to have their parts replaced, but eventually, we'll all demand access to this kind of life-extending care.

When lifespans can be extended hundreds of years ... what then?

What about when the billion Indians and the billion Chinese demand this technology?

Palladian said...

"Sometimes I don't want to imagine the turns man's inhumanity to man might take."

We have two handy examples of the limitlessness of that inhumanity in our recent history: Nazi Germany and The Soviet Union.

Philip M said...

2BR02B that is the question.

I wonder how Mr. Vonnegut is feeling these days?

Palladian said...

"When lifespans can be extended hundreds of years ... what then?"

We need to find a way to spread out through the galaxy or your fantasy of macro-lifespans will never happen. Our finite resources here won't be able to sustain it.

I maintain that our destiny is not on the Earth. Hopefully we can avoid exterminating ourselves before we reach that goal.

"What about when the billion Indians and the billion Chinese demand this technology?"

With the way our educational system is going, and what has happened to our work ethic, and especially if the Democrats succeed in hobbling medical science in this country, the Chinese and Indians aren't going to be demanding anything of Americans. They'll be the ones to develop such a technology. We'll be too busy with our reality television and rock-star presidents and our post-gender sociology PhDs to notice.

jag said...

My father's dementia led me to question my stance against euthanasia. I still cringe at the idea but understand its dark appeal.

somefeller said...

Martin Amis is Kingsley Amis minus a heart.

And minus a genuine sense of humor, which Kingsley had (as opposed to being simply an acerbic ass).

Big Mike said...

When it comes to my turn, will it be okay if I grab a few members of the slacker generation and push them in instead?

Peter V. Bella said...

I have been advocating a sort of death boot since Global Warming became quite the quaint fad.

I called them suicidetoriums. Anytime one decided to reduce or finally eliminate their carbon footprint, they can do so.

Just go to one and do away with yourself. A true believer can create their own final solution.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Wow! No "evil" or "insanity" tag!

Kev said...

(the other kev)

Old people are crafty Martin. One of them would stick signs on the death booths reading "Free MP3's," and the youngsters would all unwittingly march into them.

mariner said...

Amis is a "liberal".

That means he wants other people to go into that booth, but he sure as hell won't volunteer himself.

Synova said...

I guess that's how you get to be "brave" these days. Willing to speak the truth and not comfortable falacies. Willing to go with reason and science and at that "good" stuff like eugenics and euthenasia and whatever "eu" is next. What is it about England anyway.

Wanna know what would happen? Geez, I should write a dystopia, even though I hate them.

Put euthanasia booths on the corners and two out of every three people who walk into them for a martini and a medal will be teenagers.

Synova said...

Teenagers and Avatar fans.

David said...

Will the booths have panels? Glass or wood?

Palladian said...

I don't think Amis could be described as a liberal.

He did spend $20,000 to get his teeth fixed, so apparently he's pretty liberal with money.

Rialby said...

If Lefties like Mr. Amis keep shooting their mouths off about their euthanasia schemes, Sarah Palin is going to be our next POTUS.

Trooper York said...

"We have two handy examples of the limitlessness of that inhumanity in our recent history: Nazi Germany and The Soviet Union."

Don't forget Brad and Angelina.

WV:Antring, a sex toy used by insects. Titus will explain.

MaxedOutMama said...

What's most interesting about his position is this part:
"...the typical grey death will be that of an old relative whose family gets rid of for one reason or another..."

So, like, if the usual such exit is going to be an unwilling death (according to the proponent), does this guy have any ethical lines he wants to draw at all?

It would certainly be unwise to leave money to your family in such a system. You'd want to rig it so that while you lived, they got some sort of stipend, but after you died it went to the old cats or the Red Cross.

What I got out of it is that he hates and fears the thought of growing old, but he's too cowardly to off himself, and so he wants someone else to do it for him.

Sofa King said...

BENDER: I'm a bender. I bend girders, that's all I'm programmed to do.

FRY: You any good at it?

BENDER: You kidding? I was a star! I could bend a girder to any angle: 30 degrees, 32 degrees, you name it! 31? But I couldn't go on living once I found out what the girders were for.

FRY: What?

BENDER: Suicide booths! Well, Fry, it was a pleasure meeting you. I'm gonna go kill myself.

The Crack Emcee said...

Several thoughts:

1) Soylent Green is People! is a great conservative battle cry - you've got your soy in there, the green label, and finally, a clear reference to the liberal capacity for eating it's young.

2) This video is obviously of a NewAge death, where the soon-to-be-deceased is supposed to be comforted by shots of Gia and shit, instead of conservative revenge fantasies, film of George W. Bush mangling the english language (for a few chuckles) and ending with Charlton Heston saying, "From my cold dead hands,..."

All this crock did was make Edward G. Robinson think bad thoughts, and then try to send a final message on how to stop it. Not how I want to go.

3) Everybody's death should feature Dick Van Patton.

Pogo said...

I'm not dead yet. I'm not! I'm getting better. I don't want to go on the cart. I'm not dead.

It was funny when the Python boys wrote that a long time ago.

Now, not so much.

blake said...

Nobody mentioned Futurama?

The great thing is, it'll only cost $0.25 to kill yourself!

dbp said...

""There should be a booth on every ­corner where you could get a martini and a medal," he added."

Mr. Amis must be a liberal to have not considered the impracticality of his proposal: It is really the kind of aged who have trouble getting around who are in most need of such booths. How will they get to the corner?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Ryan said...

Why limit the booths to use by the old? Shouldn't we be encouraging the chronically publicly supported of all ages to use them? Those on welfare? Everybody with one of those pre-existing medical conditions? Certainly you'd want to include the mentally challenged.

Damn! I almost forgot! Lawyers! You'd have to encourage lawyers to use them too.

Besides, this doesn't sound so much like Soylent Green as it does Logan's Run.

William said...

The Romans chose crucifixion as the most painful form of execution. Crucifixion used the victim's wish to live as a way of torturing him to death. The condemned pushed against the spikes and the pain to take one more futile breath....Recently, when I visited someone in a hospice, I thought of crucifixion. They say that in hospice care they treat the pain and not the disease. Right. She was not in pain, but there was considerable discomfort. You had to squirt water through a syringe to relieve the dryness in her mouth. I stayed by her bedside for several hours. She was heavily medicated but came alive to say two coherent sentences: "I'm sad." and "I want coffee."......She had fought a long, losing struggle with cancer. At the end, she only weighed about sixty pounds and still she struggled to take one more shallow breath. The cancer had metatasized to her brain and was inoperable. She knew she was going to die and still she struggled to take one more, shallow breath. Perhaps the morphine dreams made the game worth the candle, but it was something awful to watch.....I know there are all kinds of slippery slopes involved, but it was not a decent way to die.

rhhardin said...

I'd think a proper death booth should have a babe with poisoned lipstick.

Get Smart had an episode with the poisoned lipstick trick.

Synova said...

"but it was not a decent way to die."

Dying slowly of old age and a few wasting diseases is the price we pay for not dying gloriously in war, in child-bed, of pneumonia and dysentery, and flu epidemics.

Titus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

Kev said...
(the other kev)

Old people are crafty Martin. One of them would stick signs on the death booths reading "Free MP3's," and the youngsters would all unwittingly march into them.

--------------
Then bitch to their codger friends in the park that their social security and Medicare Plus bennies and Senior Center all lost significant funding that "seniors were owed".

=======================

Florida, moby he is, alludes to the truth.

We ran out of phony bubble scams that gave us the illusion of the false prosperity of "the state" with an infinite budget for affording necon nation-building wars, use of medical technology to "Save!!!" the Terri Schiavos and Alzheimer patients decades longer than the weeks to months they used to have...and extend the dehabilitated painful dying process from cancer out to years from months..

This opens up a big can of ethical worms....but we just can't afford to give an indigent a lung cancer med costing 200,000 a month...Or for the young workers be ruined by huge taxes to pay for someone else's granny's 3 month hospitalization while granny can pass on her San Franscisco houses and estates to family tax-free.

Joe M. said...

Southpark, Grey Dawn

Paul said...

Florida said...When lifespans can be extended hundreds of years ... what then?

I think life is just about the right length. Thomas Sowell wrote something years ago that stuck in my mind, perhaps not word for word, but it was something like, "The disappointment and disillusion we experience over the course of our lives gradualy reconciles us to our mortality."

It sounds depressing, but I think it's realistic. I can't imagine having my 58-year-old brain transferred to a 20-year-old body and going through everything again. You lose too much innocence along the way. Can you imagine being 250?

Life needs an end, otherwise there's no sense of urgency. Like trying to get a project done when there's no deadline. Also, one of the reasons people do wonderful adventurous things like sail solo around the world is that they know they're not going to live forever anyway, so why not take a chance? But what if the alternative to taking risks in life was that you might actually live forever? Wouldn't people get insanely cautious?

Andy Warhol had a great suggestion in "From A to B and Back Again": Why not wait until people are 40 before you tell them about sex? That way, just when they're getting kind of bored with everything, they've got this great new thing to get excited about.

Rose said...

No, life is not the right length. there is too much to do! I want 300 years.

I would spend the first 100 years accumulating wealth....

The second hundred years the wealth would sustain us as we raised a family, put them thorough college, and all that...

The third hundred years would be for traveling, and we could go anywhere and do anything, spending what was left of the money.

As it is we have to cram it all into 100 years, and it's often not in proper order.

bagoh20 said...

I would suggest we cull the herd of murderers, rapists, trolls and double dippers before we go after the innocent.

PDG9 said...

Martin spent $20K to have his teeth replaced. He no longer had any teeth once his jaws collapsed. As he put it, he didn't spend the money to enhance his smile, he did it so he could eat.

As for whether he's a liberal, they don't think so in the UK, not anymore, but who cares? The suggestion of death booths is satirical. He's serious about the terminally ill having euthanasia options, but not about having death booths on street corners with martinis inside.

Synova said...

"But what if the alternative to taking risks in life was that you might actually live forever? Wouldn't people get insanely cautious?"

I think so.

I reject the idea, though, that we'd get bored. I can't imagine being bored.

kasommer said...

From Vonnegut's "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse" I memorized this over 30 years ago in 6th grade.

I did not sow. I did not spin.
And thanks to pills i did not sin.
'Neath purple roof I've come today,
to piss my azure life away.

Virgin hostess, Death's recruiter.
Life is cute but you are cuter.
Mourn my pecker purple daughter
For all it passed was sky-bue water.

Methadras said...

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!!

jaed said...

it was something awful to watch
it was not a decent way to die.

These are not equivalent statements. Not everything is about [the generic] you, and the fact that death is hard to watch doesn't mean it should be hurried up so the watchers don't suffer any unnecessary distress.

Anthony said...

Amis is a weird guy. The big literary story in the UK this week is that Amis is writting a novel he claims is autobiographical, in which the main character claims a sexual encounter ruins his life for 25 years. Considering that Ami was connected at times to several important literary women (including Tina Brown and Winston Churchill's granddaughter) there is a lot of speculation as to who the woman is.

Nichevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichevo said...

Raskolnikov looked curiously at the speaker. She was a pock-marked wench of thirty, covered with bruises, with her upper lip swollen. She made her criticism quietly and earnestly. "Where is it," thought Raskolnikov. "Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!... How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature!... And vile is he who calls him vile for that," he added a moment later.

From CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
By Fyodor Dostoevsky
Translated By Constance Garnett
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2554/2554-h/2554-h.htm

liamascorcaigh said...

Amis fils used to be an "enfant terrible" now he's just an "anus horriblis".

Salamandyr said...

If old people living longer is such a problem, why the hell do they spend so much effort forcing us all to stop smoking and drinking?

prairie wind said...

Not everything is about [the generic] you, and the fact that death is hard to watch doesn't mean it should be hurried up so the watchers don't suffer any unnecessary distress.

That is right. Can't tell you how often I've heard people say that they didn't visit someone dying because they "didn't want to remember them like that."

I'm raising my kids so they are accustomed to being around imperfect people, old people. When I'm old and dotty, I want them to come spend time with me. I don't want them to be such pansies that they can't stand the idea of seeing me "like that."

Mike@ said...

It's not even such an original idea. Bioy Casares, an Argentinian writer and a close friend and collaborator of Borges, beat Martin Amis in 1959 when he wrote Diary of the War of the Pig with essentially the same young-against-old theme.

And the "death booths"... i've seen them before in "Futurama", coin operated and with your choice of "quick and painless" or "slow and painful".

So -10 points to Amis for selling stale stuff.

Paul said...

The government can't, hardly, execute criminals, and in good gov fashion, it takes all day, a doctor, and like ten staff.

Come to think of it, Death Booths might be the employment project we are looking for. In theory, say ten workers per day per death, thats rougly, 200 deaths per year per ten man team. How many people 'need' to go every year? Say, a million. Thus we would get 50,000 jobs. With benefits, of course.
We'd need 5,000 doctors, but we already have a shortage, so let's knock them down to EMT's. Plus admin, relief crews, new buildings, stimulus for the local community.

I'd say Government Death Booths (GDB's) would have a stimulus effect of 100,000 jobs per million off'd. Plus or minus.

If we need more jobs, we can hurry up some people, plus the crips, fatties, Down Syndrome, seriously wounded vets that can't go out in public...stuff like that.

miriam said...

What's wrong with spending money to preserve your teeth? I spent more than Martin Amis--at least $23,000, and I'm happy.

Brian said...

the picture of the author in his rocking chair holding his chin as a sign of concern and deep thought is really quite lame and shallow.

The generation (of which I am a part) between the baby boomers and their kids is smaller than both of them. The BB will demand I pay for their everything and have the numbers to get their way. When my cohort gets old, the BBK will outnumber me and then they will have their way.

rjschwarz said...

Make Heroin legal for anyone in an old folks home and the same result will occur, except aging hippies will go out happy.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Futurama Did It

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

The Nazis actually had a project much like Martin Amis suggests but the project was shut down due to public outcry within Nazi Germany. Of course, modern day England and America are not like Nazi Germany so perhaps Mr.Amis suggestion might be more successful here today.

Ice Nine said...

OK, I'd never given it a thought but after (re)watching Sol going gently I've just decided that - death booth, hospice, whatever - when check-out time comes, it couldn't get much better than with Beethoven's divine Sixth wending through those old, crumping neuro-auditory circuits. (scratching addendum on Living Will...)

OSweet said...

Saw 'Soylent Green' when I was about 9 years old and believed it was a true and unavoidable picture of the future, circa 2020.
(Then did every book report or persuasive speech assignment throughout school years on Ehrlich's 'Population Bomb').
Seems time's running out now if we're gonna get there.

traditionalguy said...

Going from a tradition of families protecting their own, and hiring medical care when money was available, to a world where the money is free but the family cannot say what only the the Ethics Panel For Early Deaths to Save Money can say is bad enough. But the industrialised assembly line approach to murdering the Extra People is 100% Nazi Ideology in action. People who ask for that Solution are the ones who need killing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A good friend of ours died this weekend. He would be considered, by this dripping dickwad, as fodder for his death booth.

However. Our friend was 90 years old. Even though shrinking in size, his mind was sharp and he was still working in his plumbing/well business until the very last moment. He had a wealth of irreplaceable knowledge, almost a century of memories, sharp sense of humor and enjoyed a highball with us once in a while. He was a child of the depression and made every penny count, never let an opportunity pass him by. He missed his last appointment with a client to service the pump because he died that morning.

He died with his boots on.

This is the type of personality, work ethic and the lifetime of experience gained the hard way that these soulless liberals want to extinguish. These are the people upon whose shoulders we stand.

Martin Amis want to kill people because they are old, attractive and in the way.

Sickening. I can't think of anything worse to wish on the Marin Amis' of the world than that they live to be discarded like used tissue paper in the same way they want to inflict that fate on our friend.

Casper said...

The strangest thing about this line of reasoning is that it begins with the idea that
"I am my brother's keeper."

From there we go to "so my brother has a responsibility not to be burdensome or act unreasonably".

Finally it's "time for my brother to be put down".

So from a perceived responsibility to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, we go quickly to a responsibility of others to sacrifice themselves for the good of us. And we feel virtuous.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

errr.. old UNattractive and in the way.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What's wrong with spending money to preserve your teeth? I spent more than Martin Amis--at least $23,000, and I'm happy.

Goodie for you.

I doubt that you are advocating that everyone else who has dental problems should just have their teeth pulled though...are you.

After all it is inconvenient to have all those people with dental problems plugging up the dentist's office and their teeth are soooo ugly. Maybe they should just die anyway since it isn't really cost effective to fix up their teeth. Just think what other problems they may have in the future.

If they had any decency the tooth challenged would off themselves to make room for you to get your teeth lightened to a shade of white that blinds the room.

Paul said...

Casper--that's a brilliant insight. I wish our representatives could think as clearly.

Rick Saunders said...

He's hardly the first. Robert Heinlein wrote of a "suicide switch" in his novel "Time Enough for Love" in 1973.

Anthony said...

Rick -- and Logan's Run came out in 1967. That imagined a world where suicide at 21 was considered your public duty.