Today, more and more of us face another uncanny valley: the uncanny valley of the shadow of death. It’s the domain of those, like Jahi and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (since a stroke in 2006), who suffer grievous injury and are kept on this side of life by elaborate and increasingly heroic medical procedures.
Unlike the real valley of the shadow of death, which every human society has known, this uncanny valley is one that we modern human beings have created for ourselves. Far from solving the problems we want medicine to solve–our vulnerability and mortality–it can actually heighten them, leaving us more vulnerable and no less mortal.
Life in this uncanny valley’s shadow is neither death nor life. It calls forth mourning but also forbids it. It offers the slimmest of hopes, but in many, if not most, cases it slowly squeezes hope out of life one mechanically induced breath at a time.