The introduction to this book announces for “the need for an open debate” and begins with the following quote: “in simple and blunt terms, this operation involves cutting the head off of an animal, and maybe even a human someday, and keeping the severed head alive. Now you know why it’s going to cause controversy.” Sorry, Chet, I don’t, and apparently neither do you. Today, transplantation and xenotransplantation of both human and animal parts is commonplace. Some dialysis machines contain live pig kidneys that are attached to human beings. Pig valves are used in artificial hearts. Many other experiments are taking place to sustain body parts for transplantation and life extension. But today’s modern scientist is governed by large corporations whose only interest is adding to their financial portfolios. If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive… is a big thick book filled with sophomoric observations about the evils that may arise from this experiment, i.e., what if it had been done to ruthless dictators like Hitler and Stalin? Let’s see, the world would be controlled by a giant head?
Fleming misses a few fundamental points about the world we live in. Everything is ruled by the almighty dollar. Evil will always exist. Whether it is kept alive by a perfused head, printed in books, touted by hatemongers or any other way is completely irrelevant. The other missed point is that even if we could keep a severed head alive, there will always be ways to dispose of it. You could embarrass it with a bad haircut, pull the plug, put it in a box, make it wear funny hats, or bring it to trial for any crimes it may have committed with or without its body. Even if Hitler shaved his mustache off, it would be difficult for a severed head attached to tubes, wires and other life-support machines to blend in or hide. If you ignore the author’s personal observations, If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive… provides an interesting history of people who have attempted discorporation with various animal heads.
Hardback: 461 pages