He was so forward thinking in terms of the human potential that he changed his name to FM-2030 and fiercely proclaimed his belief that he would never, ever die.
But on Saturday night, the Miami futurist – who taught a course on “transhumanism'” at Florida International University, died at a friend’s apartment in Manhattan.
Aware that he had pancreatic cancer, the 69-year-old, Belgium-born author, philosopher, and consultant to corporations such as Lockheed and Rockwell International, was still thinking of what science and the human spirit were capable.
He arranged to have his body immersed in liquid nitrogen – or cryogenically preserved – at a foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., convinced that science will one day bring him and his legendary joie de vivre back to life.
FM-2030 was born F.M. Esfandiary in 1930. Planning to live to be at least 100, he legally changed his name in 1975, using the date he would have turned 100 as part of his new name. The son of an Iranian diplomat was fluent in French, English, Arabic and Hebrew and worked for a while at the United Nations. It was an experience, friends say, that gave him a visceral distaste for argument and discord.
His book, Are You Transhuman? was published by Warner Books in 1989 and won him correspondence with such thinkers as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
His other books about the future, which earned him the attention of companies exploring space technology and teaching assignments at the New School for Social Research in New York City and at UCLA, included Optimism One and Telespheres.
The Los Angeles performance artist Natasha Vita-More – described on a European philosophy website as one of the world’s 75 most original thinkers along with Albert Einstein – was FM-2030’s lover for more than a decade until he moved to Miami.
She said Tuesday that FM, as she called him, will be sorely missed by the community of futurists – those who like to imagine such things as androids, a space Olympics, time travel and immortality.
His many friends loved not only the intense philosophical discussions at FM-2030’s gourmet dinner parties, but the chance to dance with the handsome, urbane thinker at South Beach nightclubs and at Los Angeles-area bistros.
“He defied death,” Vita-More said. “He thought it was a complete waste of time. He thought one day the news that someone died would ring around the planet because death would be so rare. He thought there would be a whole prosthetic body and that we would be able to space or time travel to all kinds of places.'”
Friends in Los Angeles, she said, were mystified by his decision to move to Florida in 1997. Vita-More said he had a large following there and that as many as 200 students signed up to take his futurist course. But he raved about Miami, she said.
Coral Gables resident David Bourgoigne, whose small company is planning for interplanetary Internet service, said he met FM-2030 at the beach.
“Here was this man young people were in awe of,'” he said, “talking to teens about ‘space surfing.’ One kid said to me that FM was the coolest old guy that ever lived.”
Vita-More said FM-2030 told her “He had this feeling you should never live in the same place for 10 years,'” she said, “as well as you should never get married (he never did) because no one should belong to another.
“We talked on the phone a lot,'” she said. “He loved the Miami night life. He was a nocturnal person. He loved the tropics. He thought Florida was the sine qua non.'”
Written by Paul Brinkley-Rogers and published by the Miami Herald on July 12, 2000