Alexander Aleksandrovich Bogdanov (1873 – 1928)
The latest inductee into our hall of fame is the Russian physician, philosopher, science fiction writer and revolutionary, Alexander Bogdanov.
A Belarusian by origin, Bogdanov was a leading figure in the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, being a co-founder. He became a rival to Lenin and once he had lost out to him he was expelled from the party in 1909. However, following the Russian revolution he became an influential opponent of the regime adopting a more purist Marxist position.
A doctor and psychiatrist by training, Bogdanov became interested in what is now known as systems theory and synergetics. He developed Tektology which was an attempt to unify all social, biological and physical sciences by considering them as a system of relationships. He was interested in trying to find the underlying organisational principles – a real life manifestation, perhaps, of what George Eliot’s Dr Casaubon was trying to do for Greek mythology.
The reason why Bogdanov warrants a place in our illustrious pantheon of misguided geniuses is because of his interest in eternal youth – on some days for people of my vintage this prospect can seem appealing. In 1924 he started a series of experiments involving blood transfusions in an attempt to achieve this state of nirvana or, at least, to achieve some degree of partial rejuvenation. Ironically, the sister of his great political rival, Lenin, actually volunteered to participate in the deluded scientists’ experiments. After eleven transfusions Bogdanov reported a number of positive developments including that his eyesight had improved and that his developing baldness had stopped. One of his revolutionary comrades reported that Bogdanov was looking 7 to 10 years younger after one particular session. Spurred on by his success he went on to found the Institute for Haematology and Blood Transfusions in 1925/6.
However, his experiments into blood transfusions caused his untimely demise. In 1928 he took the blood of a student who was suffering from malaria and tuberculosis and the combination of the diseases introduced into his system and blood type incompatibility did for him, Ironically, the student who received Bogdanov’s blood made a complete recovery.
A truly worthy candidate for induction.
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