A piece on the fashionability of “prophetable” attire caught my attention recently.

Cambridge, England
If you wish to be a prophet, first you must dress the part. No more silk ties or tasseled loafers. Instead, throw on a wrinkled T-shirt, frayed jeans, and dirty sneakers. You should appear somewhat unkempt, as if combs and showers were only for the unenlightened. When you encounter critics, as all prophets do, dismiss them as idiots. Make sure to pepper your conversation with grandiose predictions and remind others of your genius often, lest they forget. Oh, and if possible, grow a very long beard.

You know what? If I did those things, I wouldn’t be taken for a prophet; I’d be taken for Charles Manson. Believe me, it isn’t fun.
I’m already inclined to sympathize with the misunderstood prophet:

By these measures, Aubrey de Grey is indeed a prophet. The 42-year-old English biogerontologist has made his name by claiming that some people alive right now could live for 1,000 years or longer. Maybe much longer. Growing old is not, in his view, an inevitable consequence of the human condition; rather, it is the result of accumulated damage at the cellular and molecular levels that medical advances will soon be able to prevent ? or even reverse ? allowing people to go on living pretty much indefinitely. We’ll still have to worry about angry bears and falling pianos, but aging, the biggest killer of all, will cease to be a threat. Death, as we know it, will die.

Much as I’d hate being seen as a Manson lookalike (and thus try to maintain a professional appearance), the idea of being a prophet of immortality instead of a prophet of doom appeals to my perverse side, so I’m liking this guy — even if the intent of the piece is to get me to write him off as a nut.

Ms. de Grey taught her husband genetics over the dinner table. She was amazed at how quickly he could absorb the concepts. “Very shortly we were able to have a conversation rather than a tutorial,” she says. While talking about her academic career and her relationship, Ms. de Grey is puffing away steadily on an unfiltered Camel. Mr. de Grey would like her to quit, but she’s been a smoker since she was a teenager and believes that nicotine is necessary to kick-start her brain. Unlike her husband, Ms. de Grey has no wish to live forever. She has not agreed to be cryogenically frozen when she dies. (Mr. de Grey has, just in case medicine does not advance speedily enough to save him.)
“I don’t think anyone would want to thaw me out,” she says and smiles, revealing a mouth mostly devoid of teeth.

She’s right about nicotine kick-starting the brain. It’s much better than coffee, and I used to use the former to force myself to write blog posts late at night. (Unlike coffee, the nic wears off and allows you to sleep. But it’s highly addictive, and I think it’s best saved for emergencies.)
I like the idea of the prophet’s wife not being a follower of the stuff her husband preaches, either. It’s elementary in propheteering that every good prophet must be rejected by those closest to him.
This guy just keeps looking better and better — no matter what they say about him!
And the ad hominem tone just builds and builds:

He also has a talent for drumming up publicity. His eccentricities (the long beard, the thrift-store clothes, the pub crawling) appeal to journalists looking for a colorful feature subject. There is also his willingness ? eagerness, in fact ? to explain his plan for fighting aging to any reporter with a notebook and time to kill. More publicity, he hopes, will lead to more donations. The donations can then be used to help finance the kinds of research Mr. de Grey believes are most important.
Not every article, however, has taken a gee-whiz tone. In February, Technology Review, which is owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published an article about Mr. de Grey along with an editorial written by Jason Pontin, the magazine’s editor. The article, by Sherwin Nuland, a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University’s School of Medicine and the author of How We Die, concluded that Mr. de Grey was “neither a madman nor a bad man” but that his plan “will almost certainly not succeed.” And, even if it did, Mr. de Grey “would surely destroy us in attempting to preserve us” because living for such long periods would undermine what it means to be human.

Oh please! Why don’t they just call themselves the Death Lobby, join forces with insurance actuaries, euthanasia advocates, and moral conservative Kass Klones, and be done with it?

The editorial took a more ad hominem approach. Mr. Pontin wrote that Mr. de Grey “drinks too much beer” and that even though he’s just in his early 40s “the signs of decay are strongly marked on his face.” He also called the potential social consequences of extending life indefinitely “terrible” and wrote that Mr. de Grey “thinks he is a technological messiah.”
The response to the article and the editorial was extraordinary and extremely negative. Mr. Pontin says he has received thousands of e-mail messages, many of them from “enraged” readers. “It was as if I was personally depriving them of the possibility of immortality,” he says. The online version of the article has been clicked on nearly a million times, making it by far the most-read article in the history of the magazine.

I’m liking de Grey more and more.

The question is whether that stuff will prove to be true. Gregory M. Fahy, a biologist and vice president and chief scientific officer of 21st Century Medicine, a biomedical research company, was very skeptical at first. While they still do not agree on everything, Mr. Fahy has been largely won over. And, like Mr. Finkelstein, he respects Mr. de Grey for his courage in the face of ridicule. “If you think you’re right, you have to stand up and say what you believe even if people think you’re nuts,” says Mr. Fahy. “Now, if they prove you’re nuts, you have to shut up. But that hasn’t happened yet.”

More than anything, I hope de Grey is right. It strikes me that presidential appointees wouldn’t be going on the offensive if there was no, um, future in immortality.
(But this post was only about immortal fashion. Life extension is Justin’s department….)