How to achieve immortality?

Seriously. Not to get too Ozymandias on your ass, let’s assume that I would like to be remembered by future generations, in some form or other, and let’s assume I’ve written a long, reasonably entertaining account of my life. I could conceivably get this memoir published by a major publishing company and hope that it will be required reading for generations to come, but let’s be slightly more real. No publisher is interested in my memoir, nor should they be. (I actually had lunch last year with a top editor at a major publisher in NYC, a personal friend, who told me that he liked my memoir very much, and would love to do me the favor of publishing it if only it wouldn’t kill his career. The only way I will find a publisher for my memoir would be to host my own TV show or murder someone—he was joking but his point was serious.) So forget about publication for now: what’s the best way to see that my memoir remains available to readers in the future? Self-publish, and hope that someone preserves the books when I, and the hard drive my memoir is on, have long disappeared? Distribute online copies on some website? Or is my only chance of immortality to connive a way to get my own TV show AND murder somebody, preferably on-air? That seems like a lot of work to me.

I think you can get your biography published if you are well-known e.g Oscar-winning actor; top sportsman etc.

I assume you want to be remembered after centuries, so here’s a quick selection of those folk:

  • George Washington
  • Jack the Ripper
  • Archimedes
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Genghis Khan

So that’s one politician; one serial killer; one mathematician; one polymath and one conquerer.

Step 1: Don’t die.

Publish it online in the cloud? In 2003, when I moved from Alaska to New Hampshire, I closed my DSL internet account with ACS Alaska, a local telecommunications company. I had a small storage space I used for hosting photos and whatnot, and I assumed that space would go dark when I closed my account. It did not. Here, 18 years later, links to that space still work, and I can still add files and link to them. I can only assume this space has survived multiple server upgrades that must have occurred in the almost 20 years that have elapsed. I have no reason to believe it won’t continue to exist in perpetuity.

Maybe you’ll get unlucky and have a disease named after you.

I did have a doctor inspect my infected ear this week and say “Wow”–he quickly added, “I know ‘Wow’ is not what you want a doctor to be saying, but I’ve never seen such an infected ear before. You’ve got stuff floating around in there that I’ve never–just WOW.” I might go back to him and ask if I can have this condition named in my honor.

He’s also got this going for him:

Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, may have done more than rule the largest empire in the world; according to a recently published genetic study, he may have helped populate it too.

An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today. SOURCE

Was your condition in any way contagious? You’d have to give it to other people before it can properly be named after you.

If you murder someone, pick someone really important. Aim for being another John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald.

Or, you know, invade Poland and France.

So far, so good!

Build an extremely powerful laser and carve your memoir into gigantic letters on the moon.

Most of the above ideas are unlikely to actually succeed, and even if one succeeds, they are unlikely to garner the kind of attention that the OP might seek.

My suggestion is to forget about the kind of fame that lasts centuries across many nations. Instead go for the memories which will probably last a good number of decades, and be very intense albeit for a small number of people: make a very strong impression on your children and grandchildren. Tell them stories, and tell them to repeat those stories to their children and grandchildren. If possible, leave a good number of artifacts - not just pictures of yourself, but of things you’ve made or written.

James Joyce re: Ulysses:

I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.

We’re talkin’ Gengis Khan here, buddy. And also that guy who invaded Poland and France.
Big time stuff.

Oh, as for the OP’s book of memoirs: If you really want it to be around for a long time, try this:
Pay a professional print shop to produce a hundred copies of your book, bound in leather … Give yourself an almost-real Library of Congress catalog number, and write it with a sharpie on the binding.
Now go visit a hundred large universities. Wander through their library stacks, and when nobody is looking, put your book on the appropriate shelf.
The books will still be there long,long after you are gone.

Maybe not immortal, but, hey, that’s what happens when you don’t pillage neighboring countries… :slight_smile:

To be clear: Do you wish for copies of your memoirs to merely exist and be available to be read, or do you wish for people (at least a few of them) to actually read them? The former is much easier than the latter.

Oh, that’s a good point! You could buy 100 million copies of your memoirs and have it be number one on the all-time bestseller lists, only behind the Bible and Harry Potter…

There are sites which archive internet content. The site is one place that saves websites. Usenet newsgroup (kinda the original message board system for the internet) posts are archived in places like Uploading your memoir to the web in a place where it’s archived is likely going to cause it be preserved for a very long time. Even if those original sites go down, likely other archives of that data will persist. Who knows if anyone will ever go into the archive to read your memoir, but at least it will be out there if anyone wants to look for it.

Arnold something, iirc.

Well, then we’ve already done it! Click here to see the General Questions board on Apr 5 2001. (Chronos has been moderating for a long time!)

Have to post the quote from Woody Allen

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”

Getting Shakespeare to write a play about you would work also.