Sunday, July 31, 2005
thoughts on immortality
I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her "What do you want?" She answered,"I want to die."
- Greek legend (hat tip T.S. Eliot)
Not having personally known any immortals, my images are all from popular culture, most prominently Highlander. In that series, you only became immortal once you die, so most of the characters died fairly young leaving a pretty non-corpse. What would have happened if you died of natural causes - say a brain tumour in your 90's? Would you have become an immortal then? Even if you now had the mystical ability to heal your ailment, it would kinda suck to be spend eternity as a decrepit old man. Would guess that you too like Sybil would wish to die.
Prompted by the reunion, I thought a bit recently that we should all get to experience 3 lifetimes. At the end of your life, you could look back on it & decide "you know at age 16 I wish I had _____ & my life would have worked out better" & program a few changes in your life to relive them. At the end of your 3rd lifetime, you could then see if your choices did truly give you a happiest lifetime. Of course if The Butterfly Effect was correct, it might take you 5 or 6 lifetimes for everything to come out right (and even that film on DVD had 4 alternative endings), and I would guess that at the end of 3 lifetimes, you'd still want a 4th or 7th or 10th to keep experiencing things
If you were immortal, would you end up sick of life as the character in The Seventh Sign? Always found that a bit hard to believe - wanting death even though you were eternally middle aged.
Now Hob Gadling seemed to be in a sort-of middle ground: a bit weary of life, but at the end of Sandman, still viewing death as "a mug's game". That seemed more believable - even an immortal has to get tired of life at certain points, has to be struck with a strong "been there - done that" feeling, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that death would seem preferable to you. Still I do wonder if each event in your life would be thinner - if any venture doesn't work out, no biggie since you've got hundreds of years in your future to make things right - and at some point, your life events just sort of blend together into some sort of ennui as Hob's seemed to be a sort of grumpy old man critiquing a Renaissance Faire for technical inaccuracies, but still refusing death's gift.