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Skloot sets up this frame of reference — the multitude and magnitude of HeLa cells in medicine and society — with the woman they came from and her surviving family members. Companies have made billions buying and selling HeLa cells. These cells have made invaluable contributions to the most effective and radical medical advances of our time, therefore helping countless people.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot - A Wandering Reader

They are trapped in the same cycle of poverty as their mother, as companies and labs profit off of the cells — the flesh — of their mother. It is both eerie and infuriating. I remember learning about HeLa cells in biology, as have many people. Scientists, biologists, researchers, doctors the list goes on have studied these cells for decades, yet until this book, many did not know of the origin of the cells and the woman from whom they came. Deborah and I came from very different cultures: I grew up white and agnostic in the Pacific Northwest, my roots half New York Jew and half Midwestern Protestant; Deborah was a deeply religious black Christian from the South.

She grew up in a black neighborhood that was one of the poorest and most dangerous in the country; I grew up in a safe, quiet middle-class neighborhood in a predominantly white city and went to high school with a total of two black students. Including me. The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - Official Trailer

Ultimately, this book is the result. Read a 5, word excerpt from the book , which ran in O, the Oprah Magazine. Photos, videos, and more for teachers and students. Reading group guides, videos, photos, and more.

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Keep up-to-date on Rebecca's next book. Use our form for media inquiries, film rights,speaking engagements and to get in touch with Rebecca. The Henrietta Lacks Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without their knowledge or consent.

Her real name is Henrietta Lacks. I followed Defler to his office. That was it.

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Book Special Features Reading group guides, videos, photos, and more. Forthcoming Book Keep up-to-date on Rebecca's next book. Get in Touch Use our form for media inquiries, film rights,speaking engagements and to get in touch with Rebecca. Subscribe to the mailing list: First Name. One might think, how interesting to now be making similar interpretations of new tax laws; or, perhaps more reasonably, one might wonder how to get off this infernal merry-go-round.

Perhaps EM could experience afresh the pain and joy of childbirth, but if she is at the same time forgetting the ends of that pain and joy, she is replacing an independent-of-self meaningful value family with a dependent-on-self less meaningful one pain and joy.

He observes that short term desires, such as sex and eating revive after being satiated, and so too can longer term desires, such as gardening and teaching. No doubt contingent desires can be satisfied and then rejuvenated after a while, but can the same be said for categorical desires eternally?


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If there is the chance that categorical desires can be exhausted at any time , then one should not want an eternal life. And since eternity is forever, it is inevitable that at some point there will be no categorical desires, even if they could be rejuvenated at a later time. How plausible is this claim? But Williams is pointing out that it is inevitable that one will exhaust categorical desires, not that there is a risk of it, in an immortal life, because we know some people do appear to exhaust their categorical desires in less than year-old lives and commit suicide.

Therefore, there is a quantifiable risk per year, so in an eternity of years, there will be an incidence of categorical desire exhaustion. So Williams demands that boredom be unthinkable. One episode of categorical desire exhaustion must be avoided even if some desires might subsequently be revived. I suggest this is because meaning involves looking forward with hope, and should categorical desires the reasons that drive us on be exhausted at any time, we will fall into despair, with nothing to bridge the period of ennui until a categorical desire rejuvenates.

What is the attraction of an immortal life if we know at the outset that we will, definitely, fall into despair at some point? Looking at my life today compared to my life as a teenager illustrates the point. I engage in many activities reliant on technological innovations, such as social media and 4GL computer programming, which were almost inconceivable when I was a teenager. Innovation generates new experiences that might provide a basis for new categorical desires. As Bruckner writes: Riding a bicycle is good as a means of transportation and of exercise, but is also enjoyable in its own right.

First, if we take computer programming, for instance, our categorical desire may be to write a ground-breaking piece of software that mediates all international disputes to the satisfaction of all parties. Or, it may be to achieve world peace. The first looks like a new desire, but is in fact a way of achieving the second, pre-existing, desire. The suspicion is that however much technology advances it just provides new ways to pursue a finite list of human categorical desires.

Unless the nature of humanity changes, these desires will not, and part of being recognisably human is to have a certain limited set of categorical desires. We have finite tools at our disposal; a brain limited to the power of its thinking ability, a body limited to its physical constraints, so it may be safer to conclude that our ingenuity is finite too. Conclusion Williams provides an account of meaning which exists outside individual lives but is not everlasting. Bruckner counters by offering reasons to believe that desires giving meaning will recur indefinitely. Bibliography: Belshaw, C.

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The Philosophers' Cocoon.